Vortex  - S.J. Kincaid Full review also posted here on TotalTeenFiction

Warning: This is the 2nd book in the Insignia series and this review will contain spoilers from the 1st book.

I absolutely adored Insignia and put a library hold on Vortex the second I'd finished it - before it had even been released! Vortex picks up with Tom in his second year at the Pentagonal Spire, now a newly promoted Middle which brings tougher training and new responsibilities.

As soon as I started Vortex I fell right back into that brilliant humour which was something I adored in Insignia. I loved that Tom and Vik start abusing their authority as Middles by bossing about the plebes almost straight away. And it wasn't long before the pranks and jokes between the guys and Wyatt started, and this time they were bigger and better! I was giggling throughout as they tried to outdo each other, and some of the new viruses the Middles start pranking each other were genius (there was one involving gnomes which was my favourite thing ever).

As well as the pranks being funnier than before, the technology has been ramped up a fair bit on Vortex too. I really loved all the cool gadgets and things in Insignia and in Vortex we're introduced to super cool things like exosuits (robotic suits that give the recruits super strength and power) and the Interstice which is a high speed magnetic train that can cross continents. I'm totally with Tom when he thinks all this stuff is awesome and starts having fun with it and messing about, even if it does get him in trouble! I really liked the new sims they take part in as well. I just think those are so imaginative and mean you can jump straight into some awesome battle and survival scenes right in the middle of the story.

One of the great things about Vortex was getting to learn more about the wider world that was established in the first book. I thought the moral issues surrounding the war were really interesting and led Tom to ask a lot of questions about just what's going on and what he's getting himself into, especially as you start to discover more about each of the big corporations. There was a real undercurrent of rebellion there, not just from Tom, but from others involved in the war effort. I think Vortex is a real turning point and I really hope it's setting up even bigger and better things to come in future books.

I loved Tom in Insignia and there was so much more to explore in his character this time around. He clearly has this potential that others can see in him, but he struggles to restrain himself and behave. It made for some hilarious scenes where he just can't keep his mouth shut. I thought it was so funny seeing him trying to impress leaders of the big corporations when he just can't stop putting his foot in it! I like that he isn't perfect and he breaks the rules.

The plot itself was gripping and complex.There are all these conspiracies going on so there was that mystery element to the story where you're waiting to find out just who is responsible for what. I loved the ongoing saga between Medusa and Tom and the how the relationship develops and what effect that has on their situations in the war. There were some parts that got a bit complex and I would find myself having to read back over bits to keep up with which characters were involved.

I think one of my favourite parts was seeing the friendships tested and issues of trust explored. Obviously there's a high level of secrecy when it comes to what Tom and the gang are involved in, and in this book it really proved that you can't always trust people you think you can. I enjoyed the reignited rivalry between Tom and Blackburn, plus there was a cracking storyline where Wyatt and Heather start rivaling each other too. Good to see the girls getting stuck in on the action!

Overall Vortex delivered bigger laughs, bigger pranks and even cooler technology. I loved the shift we're starting to see in Tom and how that rebellious side is still there. I can't wait to find out what happens in the next installment! It's a series I'll definitely be recommending to everyone from now on.