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Monday, July 2, 2012

Review: Insignia (Insignia #1) by S.J. Kincaid

Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: July 10, 2012
Pages: 444
Source: For Review from HarperCollins and Edelweiss (Thank you!)
Rating: 4 Stars


More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.
Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?

In short: Insignia by S.J. Kincaid is a seriously funny, seriously cool read with a fun cast of characters that you will fall in love with.
Ever wonder what it would be like to be able to think and learn like a computer? Such is the opportunity that acne-faced and regular kid, Tom Raines, receives when he is approached by the Pentagon to fight an intrasolar World War III. S.J. Kincaid gets major props for coming up with such a mega awesome concept in Insignia. Controlling robot spaceships in space using your computer-brain to fight the enemy? So cool.

That awkward moment when you burst out laughing on a bus packed with strangers? That was me while reading Insignia. Holy heck was Insignia funny. And I think it's often hard to get humour right in books, without it falling flat or coming across as cheesy. So it's really a testament to S.J. Kincaid's talent and her priceless sense of humour that Insignia was such a success in ensuring laughter throughout the entire book.

There were a few instances when I think the writing could have been a bit smoother though. At times, Insignia was bogged down by technological jargon that made the reading a bit rough. I was tempted many times just to skim over any extensive technological passages. Also, lengthy exposition scenes detailing the history of the Insignia world often read like a textbook, conspicuously placed in the text rather than smoothly integrated into the story. There were also a few noticeable plot holes that could've been ironed out.

Still, some bits of slow pacing are not enough to stop me from loving Insignia. I adored spending time with likeable Tom and the entire ensemble of Insignia's side characters. I am amazed, looking back, at just how many characters there are in Insignia and how each of them were so well developed and unique. I would especially love to be apart of Tom's group of misfit friends who, while they were constantly teasing each other, were ultimately a strong and supportive group.

Overall, Insignia was a hilarious read with a cool concept and an excellent cast of characters. Insignia is S.J. Kincaid's debut novel and I can't wait to read the sequels as well as any other books she eventually writes as she has proven herself to be a serious talent. Insignia will be published July 10, 2012. I definitely recommend it.

Other Reviews:
Eleusinian Mysteries
Icey Books
Poetry to Prose

Author Links:
Website
Blog
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Goodreads

30 comments :

  1. EEP I really want to read this! Cool sounds right for this book! It didn't really look like a funny book from the cover but I'm glad it is! Laughter and amazing characters? I'm in! Fantastic review, Aylee!

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    1. I was pretty surprised by how hilarious it was as well. It was one of the coolest books I've ever read! I hope you love it too!

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  2. This is funny? Wow I never would have though that from the cover and synopsis. Call me intrigued now! I love when the humor is done right minus the eye rolling cheesiness and the plot sounds really cool too! Great review I'm definitely gonna check this one out!

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    1. Yup, it was a big surprise for me too. That's not to say it was all fun and games, but it was fairly consistently funny. There was no cheesiness here so I was relieved!

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  3. It definitely is hard to get humor right. Like Giselle, I never would expect this to be funny. I always like a good laugh.

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    1. Exactly, which is why I was so impressed. S.J. Kincaid really captured the humour shared between teenage friends, I think.

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  4. I'm really excited to try this one, I love the sound of the premise and the fact that is has a male protagonist. The technological jargon and the plot holes sound slightly problematic, but obviously they don't detract too much since you sill gave it a 4. Thanks for the review Aylee!

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    1. Yeah, the jargon and stuff was boring but it was definitely not a major part of the book and no way would I let it affect my enjoyment of the book. I hope you really enjoy too!

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  5. Two words: Male. Protagonist.
    I am so reading this.

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    1. Yup, that's what sold it to me too :)

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  6. I'm so glad you liked it. I'm reading it right now and I'm about 30 pages in. It seemed way too similar to Ender's Game at first and I'm glad it gets more unique and funny as it goes on. Thanks so much for the review! :

    Jessica @ Books: A true story

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    1. Hmm, I've never actually read Ender's Game so I can't speak to how unique it is... but I do get the impression that Ender's Game is a much more serious book than this one ever was. I hope you like it more further in!

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  7. Awesome review! I came across this recently but hadn't heard anyone's thoughts about it. I'm glad it was a fun novel and I NEVER would have thought it was funny. I love humor in books.

    -Lauren

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    1. Heh, that seems to be what everyone is saying, that they never would have guessed it to be funny, and I agree. I was expecting the standard fare dystopian, so I was happily surprised that it had so much humour!

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  8. I agree with you on the pacing; there were moments (especially when the author was explaining the government/war situation) where I found my eyes glazing over. Haha. But overall, I LOVED Insignia. The characters were just so lovable! <3
    - Lauren

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    1. Yeah, I can't help but think there must of been a better way of approaching that, making it more readable. The characters were very readable though!

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  9. I'm intrigued! Despite the sometimes slow pace, this sounds like something I would enjoy. Long-winded, textbook-like explanations definitely make the reading difficult. One of the last books I read did the same thing right in the middle of the book - taking several consecutive chapters to explain everything.

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    1. Blah, that doesn't sound good. I'm not saying that I could do better, mind you - I think it must be pretty hard and take a lot of talent to integrate all that exposition into the text naturally.

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  10. If I was on that bus with you, I probably would have been trying to read over your shoulders because I would have been dying to know what was so funny!

    Yes, the concept sounds pretty awesome, and very unique. Though the technological jargon stuff would probably turn me off.

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    1. Oh whew! That makes me feel better that at least one person wouldn't think I was completely strange :) I'm glad the jargon didn't turn me off completely from the book.

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  11. Yay, I'm so glad you ended up enjoying it so much! As you know, I absolutely loved it and I'm so excited for its release so that I can finally gush about it with others. S.J. Kincaid has a great series in her hands and I can't wait to reunite with these characters!

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    1. Yes! I want more people to read it too! I also need to spend some more time with Tom, Vik, Yuri, and especially Wyatt! Such great, distinctive characters!

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  12. This book was so not in my radar but you made me curious, and I love that it's funny, :P I need some funny in my life just now :d

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    1. In that case, I definitely recommend it! I hope you fall in love with the humour and characters as much as I did!

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  13. The synopsis of this one just sounds so different from other YA novels! You know, I thought this one would be packed with action and more sci-fi-ish than humorous. I think if I hadn't read your review, the humour would have been pretty unexpected. I guess I won't be reading this one in public then; I have a hard time keeping a smile off my face or trying not to get teary when I'm reading something good or sad.

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    1. It was pretty sci-fi-ish for sure, but there wasn't a ton of actually serious battling and action - but I was fine with that. It was unexpected but in an oh-so-good kind of way. Good call on the not reading in public if you are easily embarrassed by that kind of thing :)

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  14. Yup, you're right, that is a very cool premise. I wasn't expecting humor from this one, but that's great! Definitely looking forward to read this.

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    1. Cool, I'll be curious to hear what you think of it!

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  15. Definitely want to read this one! Sounds a bit like Ender's Game (which I love) and I'm always looking for funny books! Definitely will be checking this out, and so happy to hear it's a debut novel too!

    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

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    1. Yeah, I've heard that Ender's Game comparison before... I should really read that book.

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