Vortex by S.J. Kincaid
Release Date: July 2nd, 2013
Katherine Tegen Books, 400 Pages
Sub-genre: Science Fiction
Source: Bought the Audiobook
Age Group: Young Adult
Series: Insignia #2
Follow up to: Insignia
Recommended for: fans of Ender’s Game
The impossible was just the beginning. Now in their second year as superhuman government weapons-in-training at the Pentagonal Spire, Tom Raines and his friends are mid-level cadets in the elite combat corps known as the Intrasolar Forces. But as training intensifies and a moment arrives that could make or break his entire career, Tom’s loyalties are again put to the test.
Encouraged to betray his ideals and friendships for the sake of his country, Tom is convinced there must be another way. And the more aware he becomes of the corruption surrounding him, the more determined he becomes to fight it, even if he sabotages his own future in the process.
Drawn into a power struggle more dramatic than he has ever faced before, Tom stays a hyperintelligent step ahead of everyone, like the exceptional gamer he is—or so he believes. But when he learns that he and his friends have unwittingly made the most grievous error imaginable, Tom must find a way to outwit an enemy so nefarious that victory seems hopeless. Will his idealism and bravado cost him everything—and everyone that matters to him?
Oh, TOM RAINES – what have you done to me? You make me crazy – between acting like the immature 15 that you are and coming to realizations that I wish you had come to way earlier – I still find myself absolutely loving you.
I loved Vortex just as much as I loved Insignia. All of the things that I enjoyed in Insignia were in Vortex – moments of hilarity (I lost count of how many times I laughed out loud), action action action! (the Simulations!), and cut-throat politicking (BUT FOR REAL). Each of the characters grow in their own way and some of them will surprise you with what they do – my jaw dropped a few times from the “WHAT?!”.
There came a point in the book, about half way, when I could definitely see a place where it would have been an okay place to stop but I’m so glad that there was more! I love that these books are 400+ pages – it really gives me a chance to dig in and spend time with the characters.
My favorite thing about this series is how it explores friendships – all kinds of friendships. The friendship between Wyatt and Tom (girl and boy), Vik and Tom (boy and boy), Yuri and the group (an “outsider”), Medusa and Tom (opposing sides of the war and opposite sides of the world, AND they’ve never met in real life). How do “prioritize” your friends, which ones would you try to save, and how far would you be willing to go? Would you commit treason? Would you betray them to make life better for yourself? And if you were the one betrayed, would you ever forgive them?
It has been a little over a year since I read Insignia and I couldn’t remember everything that happened in the first book but Vortex does a good job of hitting key points from Insignia in a way that doesn’t feel awkward. I wish I had re-read Insignia before starting Vortex but it didn’t spoil anything for me. If you’re looking for a series for a boy to get in to, this is the one. I can’t wait for the next book in this series!
Ps – I listened to this one on audiobook – and let me tell you – the voice actor was fantastic. I could distinguish characters’ voices (not just Vik and Yuri) but Wyatt, and Tom, and Blackburn – everyone had a distinct sound. He really brought the book to life for me and it was wonderful to listen to.