The impossible was just the beginning. Now in their second year as superhuman government weapons-in-training at the Pentagonal Spire, Tom and his friends are midlevel 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.
©2013 S. J. Kincaid (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers
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 serious 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.
The characters I came to love from Insignia returned in all their glory, staying true to the people they were in the first book, growth included. Tom has evolved, but he shows he's still the boy from the very beginning of this series in the first scene. Vik hasn't changed, Wyatt is still as awkward as ever, and the whole cast is just plain amazing.
I do have to say, though, that Vortex has fallen into that same little pit a lot of second-books-of-trilogies fall into, at least in my opinion. Vortex felt a little slow and uneventful, especially compared to the awesomeness of its predecessor. I know that there was plenty that happened in this book, but parts of it felt like it was dragging, which left me a bit disinterested even while I knew I enjoyed these characters. The last fifth or so really picked up, though, and I was left satisfied with the ending. It definitely paves the way well for book 3, Catalyst, which I cannot wait to get into.
Vortex started strongly, I will say that. The newness of Tom and his friends being Middles rather than Plebes is refreshing, but I think my own personal sense of wonderment of Tom's world wore off toward the middle of the book, and it seemed like I wasn't able to find a thick thread of plot to cling to. The threads of conflict are there, but it took me a bit longer to find the real cable of problems in this book than it did for the first one. But when Kincaid brought us to a climax, she did so wonderfully, wrapping things up for this book while still leaving a need to get closure for book 3.
Hey there! I am a Fantasy/Sci-Fi nut. I also enjoy a good zombie novel or thriller now and then. My likes tend towards Young adult novels as I find most of the "adult" Fantasy novels to be uppity for lack of a better word. Follow me if you like the same as I intend to go back and review every book I had listened to on this site and will keep doing so.
I would certainly listen to Vortex again, though it will be some time. It is a great book but everything it has presents itself right up front, so unlike other books with fine detail attention you really would not find much you missed the first read.
Vortex runs along the lines of something like Ready Player One, you have the same sense of a man (or boy) truly interfacing with a machine.
Lincoln Hoppe does a great job of bringing to life each and every character. Yuri and Vic are done especially well. You never feel as if two people sound alike, which is a true feat in a book with so many different people.
This is a book I DID listen to in one sitting! It is a bit slow to start but picks up quickly and always has something going on that you just must find out what happens!
I highly recommend you read the first book of this series first. Vortex does stand on its own, and you do not NEED to read the first book in the series but it does add a lot to the second one.
If you enjoy virtual reality style books, or a well woven love story that is not the main point of the book, you WILL enjoy this book.
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