The Insignia trilogy by S.J. Kincaid is a fast-paced science fiction adventure series that has been nominated for numerous awards. The trilogy takes place in the future, in the midst of World War III. In the first book, Insignia, we are quickly introduced to the two duelling sides in the war. North America, allied with Europe, Australia and Central America, is now at war with the Russo-Chinese alliance.
A failing student living in poverty, Tom Raines has no hope for a bright future. While at a casino one night with his father, he is approached by a member of the U.S. military who persuades him to be trained as an interstellar combatant. The opportunity to fight in the war using virtual reality is just the break that Tom was hoping for.
Tom begins his training in earnest after receiving a neural processor (brain implant) allowing him to think at a much faster speed than the typical human brain. He soon realizes, however, that unlike the other cadets, he seems to have a special power: the ability to interface with machines. Using only his mind, he can seize control of any computerized device.
In the second book of the series, Vortex, Tom and his fellow combatants rise up the ladder to become mid-level cadets, also called middles. Here, Tom’s loyalty is tested and he is introduced to coalition executives who will decide whether or not to sponsor him. One can only become a true combatant in the war with a corporate sponsor.
The third book, Catalyst, provides a suspenseful and action packed conclusion to the trilogy. A complex plot involving the creator of the neural implants leaves Tom and his friends alone in a very new world, desperate to devise a plan to defeat a ruthless enemy.
The character development in this trilogy is excellent. Throughout the story, the reader sees Tom grow as he learns astonishing secrets about the war. The plot is well developed, and at numerous turns, our protagonist is forced to think big about the world around him. Consequently, readers wonder what the future will hold and whether computers are getting too advanced.
This series has a lot of action, but also incorporates interesting thoughts and concepts. The plot is unique. I also liked the fact that the story takes place in the future, one that could become realistic very soon, given our fast-changing society. One of the few things I don’t like about the series is that each book did not end with a cliff hanger; rather, it simply ends. The reader wonders what may happen next but it does not spark an instant need to read the next book. Still, the trilogy has a novel plot line, one that entranced me. I would recommend these books to anyone who likes adventure, fantasy or science fiction.
My overall rating is 4.5/5 stars.
Noah, originally from Toronto, now lives in the Greater Boston area.
He is a Grade 7 student who enjoys math, science, and engineering.
He loves to read, run and eat sushi, though not all at the same time!
He also plays the cello.
Noah has visited every Canadian province except Newfoundland.
More by Noah:
- Magic, swords and dragons: Christopher Paolini’s ‘Eragon’ soars, reviewer Noah says
- Noah finds excitement in Farley Mowat’s ‘Lost in the Barrens’
- Noah Raves About ‘Ready Player One’
- Noah Raves About Truancy
- Noah Finds Adventure in Shipwrecks
- Noah Reviews the ‘Insignia’ Trilogy
Meet our kids' panel: a savvy group of kids with a strong point of view about the media and the culture they consume. Culturally diverse, a range of age and interests, they'll provide you with an insight into kids' media ... what works, what doesn't and why. Check back every month for new reviews. We think you'll be inspired!