Author: S.J. Kincaid
Insignia (Book 2, see review for Book 1 here
Who’s it for? Teens
What’s it about? Vortex picks up a little while after Insignia finished off, with Tom spending the summer away from the Spire. But he’s soon back for his second year which brings with it greater responsibilities and more pressure on future careers as combatants. Yet friendships are pushed to breaking point as old mistakes and new threats promise to cost Tom everything.
What’s good about it? The characters. A thousand times the characters. They’re all so rich and detailed – nobody is good or evil just for the sake of it, they’ve all got their own motivations and needs – and I love it! It does mean you do kind of veer between wanting to slap Tom and wanting to hug him, or at least I did. He is ruthless, over confident and so very arrogant, but he still has that same sense of loyalty and fun. He grows a lot through the course of this and learns a lot of hard lessons. It’s brilliant.
What I loved most? Normally, it’s the world building – and it is particularly excellent here, better than the first because there’s more action taking place outside of the Spire – but in this case it’s that their actions have consequences. So many consequences! A decision made way back in Insignia leaves some lasting and terrible marks. Plus it’s finally brought home to Vik and Tom about how potentially damaging their actions could be.
Wyatt remains forever awesome. She’s fantastic and her relationship with Yuri is really adorable. Tom’s approach to his burgeoning relationship is quite sweet too.
In the first book I was reserving judgement on the idea of WWIII being fought in space, mostly I didn’t really buy it because so much was centred on the Spire it was difficult to actually see it as a war and not just as a series of skirmishes. However, now I can see it.
There is some beautiful writing here. Really, really beautiful. There’s a moment at the end of chapter 8 where Tom sees the Earth from space and he wishes that everyone could see past the skyboards, so they could see the stars. It was so lovely.
What’s bad about it? It took me a little while to get back into the story this time, but once I got going I couldn’t put it down.
The verdict? This is, for me, actually slightly better than Insignia. The story is engaging, the characters are fantastic – Elliot really stands out for me (but I don’t want to spoil people, so I won’t say why) especially because he’s such a contrast with Tom (who is possibly even more arrogant than he was before). It still has moments of levity and parts where I laughed out loud, but that didn’t undercut moments which were so lovely.
If you’ve been observant, and can remember certain details from the previous book, then you can see a certain twist coming. Knowing it’s coming, however, doesn’t make it any less shocking when it happens (I hoped I was wrong. I wasn’t though, and was then caught between shock, and triumphant at being right).
I loved this – I have theories! Many theories! And I’m looking forward to the next book. Definitely recommend this!