DNF Series Review: Insignia by S J Kincaid

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:


Synopsis for Insignia (from Goodreads):

The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S. J. Kincaid’s fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy perfect for fans of Ender’s Game.

The planet’s natural resources are almost gone, and war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning. The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn’t seem like a hero. He’s a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.

As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom’s life completely changes. Suddenly, he’s someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there’s a price to pay. . .


Series: Insignia
Author: S J Kincaid
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a novella, #1.5, Allies

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Teen, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2012 – October 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook


Disclaimer: I stopped reading Insignia (#1) at 51% (middle of Chapter 14). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I read (and simply ADORED) Kincaid’s The Diabolic in the summer of 2018, I was eager to check out her other works. This was the other series my library had and they had it available in audio (which is how I read The Diabolic) so it seemed like a good sign!

The synopsis doesn’t give much away but it sounded interesting enough and so I dove in immediately after DNFing another SciFi novel that just wasn’t working for me.

What I Liked:

–The Concept–

I really loved the entire concept of this story. Society is so advanced that we don’t use humans to physically fight wars; instead, they use machines to do it remotely. When I went through my anime phase in high school, Gundam SEED was my first and favourite show and they used mechas to fight; so the concept here gave me some great nostalgia.

And the simulations the kids do for training were creative and entertaining to read about.

–Despite the War and Premise, It Had a Lighter Tone–

I find most of my YA novels have a darker tone to them lately. I think part of that goes hand in hand with me growing up and where my interests lie when it comes to book. However, I enjoyed the lighter tone this novel had. Sure, Tom’s life isn’t easy and he is being recruited to fight in a war. But there isn’t murder behind every chapter or villains who will do anything at any cost. (I hope that makes sense). It’s got a more upbeat tone to it as Tom tries to navigate his new life and undergoes most challenges a 14 year old boy does in a futuristic setting.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lack of an Overarching Plot–

I should clarify that there are some overarching plots in this story. You’ve got Tom’s rivalry with Medusa and breached files for example. But I just kept waiting for this “big” reveal to get the plot really started. See I was halfway through and in some ways I felt like we just kept rehashing the same things over and over. I needed a little more to the plot besides Tom navigating school.

In a lot of ways, this book reminded me of the first Divergent book where you watch Tris train and find her way in her new faction. But where that book succeeds is in the inklings letting you know that something bigger is happening and as that gets revealed, you get more invested in the story. I didn’t get that sense that that would be the case here.

–I Felt a Little Old Reading This–

I’m a firm believer that you can read any book of any genre at any age; that YA and middle grade novels are not just for the targeted marketing audience. However, I do believe that there are some books you just might not enjoy if you read them when you are not  a part of the intended audience. That’s the case here.

I firmly believe if I read this book when I was in high school (ie when it first came out), this review would be completely different (namely, I would have finished the book). But as it stands now in my life, I didn’t really care for (what is petty to me now) issues that were plaguing Tom’s life like popularity and physical appearance. I crave something a little more cerebral than that when reading.

My Audiobook Experience:

Other than the wickedly long length of the audio version (it’s like 15.5 hours!) it’s a very well done production. I thought the narrator did a great job with the story.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. Perhaps the text version would be quicker for me to read but the sequel’s synopsis didn’t really interest me.

My Rating: DNF

Insignia  DNF | [Allies N/A] | Vortex N/A | Catalyst N/A


Perfect for fans of books in the Teen or younger YA genres! I’ve never read the Ender’s Game but what I do know makes me think this recommendation holds true.

Read if You Like: science fiction, dystopian
Avoid if You: like older (age-wise) YA titles




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