Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Age Group: YA
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
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.
I'm really enjoying this series! I love the characters, and I love this world. In Vortex, Tom is growing up a little, which means interesting character development. The series took a little bit of a darker turn (yes, even darker than Blackburn and the memory culling), and I'm loving it. Of course, Kincaid kept the lighthearted humor that I, personally, loved from the first book. The only difference is that Tom's problems are getting even more serious. He needs to stay alive, and we all know he's going to be a major player in the war. When and how? Not sure. But I know it's coming. If you've read the first book, you know its coming. And with that possibility on the horizon, Tom's mistakes are more weighted and have bigger consequences. The decisions he's faced with are heavier and more adult. How he deals with that is interesting, and I like reading about it.
Vortex only had one plot line, unlike Insignia, but I was still enraptured by the book, I was still on the edge of my seat to see what Tom's gonna do next. Tom, Vik, and Wyatt are all Middles now, which means new rooms. My favorite part of the whole book is when Wyatt sends out a program so that everyone will see pictures of her and embarrassing pictures of Vik all over the walls of his new room. They're all friends, and they play these stupid pranks on each other and I love it. In the midst of World War III, these kids (and we readers) need that lightheartedness to lighten up how serious the situation is becoming.
Yuri, of course, is still a Plebe, but he's there with the gang when most of the adventure happens. Yuri is so flippin cute. I love him. He's such a dork, but he's a smooth dork, and I love it (the whole horse face debacle is so funny). I feel so bad for him throughout the book, more than even in Insignia, because his friends are moving on without him. He's still positive, though, and that's really important. I love his addiction to working out, and how he's forever supportive of Tom and Vik. And how he's dating Wyatt (insert loud fangirling here). I just adore Yuri.
Even Elliot really grows as a character, and he's not around all that much. He's interesting, and his choices and influence on Tom are really important to the progression of the book. I'm really curious to see what happens with his character in the last book.
Blackburn is more complicated than I gave him credit for, after what we found out about him and the way he treated Tom in Insignia. I really, really liked him in the first book. And I still like him. It's like, he could be a villain, but he's so twisted and screwed up that I can't hate him. He does a lot of good things, and the way he treats Wyatt is really interesting. I have mixed feelings for Blackburn. The main villain continuese to be the corporations fighting in the war, no surprise there.
So yeah. I really love this series! Lots of actiony goodness, and pranks galore. Oh, and we get to see Medusa again (which is great, because I love her).