Vortex by S.J. Kincaid

Rating: 3.5/5

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?

Filled with action and intelligence, camaraderie and humor, the second book in S.J. Kincaid's futuristic World War III Insignia trilogy continues to explore fascinating and timely questions about power, politics, technology, loyalty, and friendship.

Vortex didn’t quite have the same magic for me that Insignia did. It was still a good book, it just didn’t have me screaming and shrieking like an excited, insane girl. Vortex had a bit of a slower start and I didn’t get fully sucked into the book until half way or 3/4 of the way through.

I kind of had a love/hate relationship with Tom in this book. He definitely came across very immature at times. It almost made me wonder, Was he always like this and am I only now noticing it? Or is this just a new thing in Vortex?

Tom could just be so arrogant, so cocky, and not consider the consequences of his actions. His teachers would specifically tell him, “Don’t do this, it’s dangerous.” Then he would turn around and do it, and something bad would happen (as promised). Another example: now that he is no longer a plebe, he and Vik got together and chased the plebes out of the common room area so they could have it all to themselves, just because “they could”. He just acted like an arrogant prick a lot of the time.

But on the other hand, I do really admire how he refused to suck up to the big corporate guys. Many of those guys were legitimately bad people, and I really appreciated that Tom didn’t kiss their asses just for the sake of his career. Instead, he acknowledged that they were bad guys and didn’t let them push him around, and didn’t take any crap from them. He told them exactly what he thought of them, and it was awesome.

My other frustration was with Medusa; her relationship with Tom was like whiplash. It was an annoying cycle of: they’re fighting, they don’t talk for weeks, they make up, later in that conversation Tom screws it up and they fight again, they don’t talk for weeks, etc. Rinse and repeat. As a result, it felt like Medusa was barely in the book and just popped in and out at seemingly random times. At least whenever Medusa did make an appearance she was kicking some serious ass.

Although the beginning of the book was only ‘okay’ for me, things really picked up at the end. The corruption and conspiracies finally started to unravel, driving some excitement into the story. There was more defiance, rebellion, and more “big reveals”. Those were the bits I finally loved!

Overall, I guess Vortex had a stronger focus on the politics. We learn more about the corporations that sponsor the fighters and what stakes they have in the war. It’s interesting information, but it wasn’t always the most exciting.

I am a bit bummed that I didn’t enjoy Vortex quite as much as Insignia, but it was still a pretty good book.

The Verdict

prettygood

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