Review: Vortex by SJ Kincaid

Vortex (Insignia #2) by S. J. Kincaid

People kill over money and over love, but nobody ever kills over gnomes.”

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books Format: Kindle eBook
Source: Bought Rating:  (5/5 Stars) Synopsis: 

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.

Vortex was much more thoughtful and darker than the first book, Insignia. It gets a lot deeper into the themes of the book and it tells us more why the way the world is organized is bad, and explains further how the world got to that point. The book also shows more on how Tom’s hatred of establishment and his complete lack of obedience (or filter) could entirely destroy his career in the military.

I loved every minute of this book. The deeper and darker themes in this second book made it almost better than the first, while expanding on Insignia and altogether making this a very successful second book of a trilogy.

Though some of the character’s actions in the ending of the book frustrated me a little bit, it all made sense, and really left me wondering what could happen in the last book.

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Under the cut I’m going to do some spoiler-y rambling. You’ve been warned.

Highlights of this book: 

  • Walton. If he was in a scene I knew it was going to be hilarious.
  • We learned a lot more about Elliot. In the first book we do see his softer and more normal side at points, but in Vortex we really learn that he does have problems with things that are going on. He’s just good at hiding it. This book made me really like Elliot. I’m glad he sort of got to become the hero at the end of it.
  • Wyatt and Yuri are just the cutest thing! They need a ship name. Yuratt? Wyri? Wyari? Yeah, I don’t know. I also think Tom and Medusa need a ship name, but I have no idea where to go with that one because I think it would have to be something more abstract than a combination of their names… If you have a ship name for any of the pairings please tell me!

Like I said before, I loved the whole thing. However, a lot of the parts around the half way point are just really sad. Vengerov trying to get Tom to attack Medusa and then Tom losing his fingers and then, after all that, Wyatt has to have seen the surveillance footage of when Blackburn put him under the census device.

But after all that sadness then we have this sweet moment between Wyatt and Tom where she manages to actually cheer him up and it was just so great. It made me realize that Wyatt and Tom have a much better friendship than Tom and Vik do. Because with Tom and Vik they’re always competing against each other and trying to be the best. They never show weakness in front of each other and they never want to let the other gain the upper hand. And that kind of friendship can be good in some ways because it’s fun and it can be good to be competitive. But Wyatt and Tom’s friendship is great because they really see each other for who they are and are comfortable being themselves around each other. They became friends because they helped each other, and while Tom doesn’t like Wyatt having seen the surveillance footage, he eventually isn’t as broken up about it because he knows that Wyatt still sees him as the same person and will continue to try to help him. Vik might be good for friendly competition and fun, but the friend Tom really needs to keep is Wyatt.

While I’m talking about relationships, I also really want to talk about Tom’s relationship with Medusa. I really love it. They have the whole star crossed lovers thing going on, which I normally find kind of cliche, but with them it WORKS. I love how they started off as friends just battling each other for fun but now they’ve gone through so much and they are so adorable together. Which makes it all the more sad that they keep hurting each other. Tom even says that it seems like he was made to be the bane of her existence.

I’m very glad that they were able to get past the whole ‘Tom seeing what she actually looks like’ thing. Because we knew the whole time that he didn’t really care. It’s just Tom is so bad with words and Medusa was so insecure about it with him, and there are lesser people who would care about how she looks, so I’m glad that she knows that Tom isn’t one of those people. Because they really are great together. I hope they get to meet in person in the third book or something. That would be great.

Oh  and Heather. How far we came with Heather. She went from the sweet pretty girl who coerced Tom into joining the program, to the ruthless politician who would hurt anyone to get what she wanted, to dishonored and dead. I did not expect that scene at all. I though we would have Heather through the whole trilogy. Blackburn was just cold there. I still kind of believe he’s the good guy, but now I think he’s a lot more ruthless than I though. I also think that without the Yuri incident Blackburn wouldn’t have gone that far to stop Heather.

The Yuri incident was by far the saddest part of this book. Not just because Yuri was controlled without his knowing and then badly hurt, which is really sad on it’s own, but also because of how much it ripped Tom and his friends apart. Heck, it even kind of broke Blackburn again. He had been doing well, helping Wyatt and Tom a lot of the time, but after the Yuri incident he gets all dark again and talks about how he doesn’t have any forgiveness left, even for himself. I close to crying during a lot of this part, but what really made me tear up was when Wyatt starts talking again. It was supposed to be going out of the gloom, and I know her comment about Tom never being a surgeon was supposed to be funny, but it just really hit me.

The parts near the end did manage to really cheer me up. I was smiling like crazy during the Capitol Summit. And I was happy when Tom and his friends became friendly again so they could go invade Obsidian to help save Yuri. It was hands down the best part of the book. The reveal about Vegerov was shocking though. It was pretty scary too. I’m definitely scared for what’s going to come out of that… And then Medusa saved them and then tells Tom she would’ve helped him anyways, which was sweet. Then Tom betrayed her again, which was flat out infuriating. And then Tom destroyed the skyboards, which was awesome.

So yeah- awesome series, awesome book, and I am so hyped for Catalyst.

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