By S. J. Kincaid, published by Hot Key Books.
Goodreads 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.
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?
My review: WOW! VORTEX was absolutely brilliant. I had high hopes for it, because I totally fell in love with the book before, INSIGNIA, about a year ago. So, for about a year, I’ve been impatiently tapping my foot for the release of this. So, as soon as I received it, I dived straight in. Well, it was so worth the wait!
VORTEX began with Tom, back in Vegas, visiting his dad on a break from his training. Right away I was sucked into his world, and holding my breath at the tense bits and laughing my head off at the humor that came shortly after. I’ll be honest- I had laughed about five times, before Tom had even gotten back to the Pentagonal Spire- the place where he trains to become a combatant. And that wasn’t even thirty pages. As Tom returned to the Spire, not only were there many more funny bits, but also arousing suspicion around lots of characters. Blackburn, a guy who was made out to be the antagonist in INSIGNIA, I instantly became wary of. Then, there was — who was so obviously a bad guy, and then one of Tom’s friends, who I won’t give the name of here because I’ll spoil things. But I will say that This Certain Friend’s betrayal made a really excellent, thrilling plot twist to an already action-packed plot.
The whole story was structured so well. There really wasn’t a single moment where I was bored, or uninterested. The story began with a big, funny event, and then after that, the pace of the story never slowed down, or lagged in places. It was just all so brilliant, and there was such a clever outcome.
Tom Raines’s character was, again, just so awesome. He was cocky, clever and mischievous, and all of that was really amped up in this installment. Although his back-chatting did annoy me in a few places, where I really wanted him to be focusing so he can save the world and stuff, I really did like that cheeky element in him. It just made Tom such a likeable, realistic character. I also saw a lot of his feelings about his dad in this book, too. I felt a lot of sympathy for him there! And, Tom definitely developed in terms of bravery in VORTEX- he underwent the most traumatic thing (which, again, I can’t really elaborate on because I’ll spoil stuff!) and still carried on, determined to save the day by all means possible. I really adored that determination. Finally, MEDUSA! For those of you who don’t know, Tom kinda fell in love with her in INSIGNIA. I really love the development in that forbidden relationship in this book. It was so heart-breaking, yet heart-warming at the same time.
Overall, VORTEX totally blew me away… just like INSIGNIA. The plot was so brilliant, I really can’t describe the amazingness that the author has packed into this 400 page masterpiece. Tom was such a great character, and I really loved his relationships with his best friends, as well as the mysterious Chinese combatant Medusa. VORTEX is great for sci-fi fans (but read INSIGNIA first!!), and I’d recommend it also to fans of Robert Muchamore. Go grab a copy of this and its predecessor now, they’re must reads for all young teens!
My Goodreads rating: 5/5!
I received VORTEX from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect what I thought of it.