Vortex | SJ Kincaid | Book Review

It’s kind of fun to read a sequel to a book you read last year right around the same time. Last year, over the summer, I read Insignia by SJ Kincaid and found myself really enjoying it, except for not being a huge fan of the main character because he was kind of annoying. This year, I’m sinking my teeth into Vortex, the sequel to Insignia mainly because when Allison came over to my apartment, she practically stole Vortex right out of there, so that was the incentive I needed to get through it faster. In all honesty, my friends, I found Vortex to be a better read than Insignia. I think this time around, I was more invested AND I found Tom to be less annoying.

Vortex by SJ Kincaid | Good Books And Good Wine

Vortex opens when the students at the Spire are on vacation. Tom is with his dad at a casino, using his processor to help his dad win at gambling. He’s also busy pondering how unfair everything is because of the multinational corporations who own pretty much the world. Anyways, hijinks ensue and Tom finds his way back to the Spire. This year, he has moved up and is no longer at the bottom of the totem pole. He and Vik now have the power to kick lower level students out of the lounge. Much of Vortex is spent with Tom in classes as he learns new skills such as how to maneuver an exosuit among other things, like getting to do these sort of ride alongs with Camco. I do not want to spoil you guys, but there is lots of action and politics and THRILLS. Y’all, this dystopian, space thriller was a superb summer read. It’s like the movies everyone flocks to over the summer – explosions and bad guys, but in book form.

I remember in my review of Insignia I said something to the effect of I found Tom annoying. In the beginning of Vortex, I thought Tom was a little shit. He’s very stubborn, which I suppose some people take for being tenacious. Personally, I thought he was being pigheaded and immature, acting like a total teenager – which he IS. Which I suppose is a good thing. But, you know what, I have my preferences as a reader, and sometimes when a character is being a little shit, I don’t like them. I am not saying all characters need to be likable, I am just saying my preferences. Anyways, you guys Tom actually matures and grows some brain cells in Vortex. I found myself actually caring about him and feeling for his situation. I also thought I could understand him more and was able to empathize with him. Props to Kincaid for bringing on the character development and for allowing Tom to grow up a little bit.

I think that the future in which Vortex is set is an interesting one. It’s a world in which corporations have entirely too much power and one that, as a reader who also takes an active interest in politics and news, I can see. I mean, I read the book and thought about things like lobbyists and campaign finance reform, even though Vortex does not really have anything to do with that. I also think about things like outsourcing and big business like Walmart running many, many businesses out of town. What sparked that in me was reading about how in Vortex, one of the multinational corporations owns Yellowstone National Park. It’s no longer a park that belongs to the people, but instead something that only people who are high up in the company will be able to see. That makes me sad. It makes me sad that in Vortex, corporations are given more consideration than humans, and that’s something that I can see reflected in reality today. However, I will not bore you with my leanings and thoughts on that.

Instead, I want to talk to you about Kincaid’s writing style. Vortex is a long book, with tiny print. Yet, it is a hell of a read. It does not go by slowly at all. Instead, it was a book that I carried with me all over the house, and read while lying on the floor next to a fan because I just had to know if Tom would piss Vengerov off or if Wyatt was going to be okay or what Yuri’s deal was. I think that Vortex is a definite improvement from Insignia, and was a book that I am so glad I gave a chance. I am also glad that Allison was all like HURRY UP AND READ VORTEX SO I CAN HAVE IT as I likely would have missed out on the whole déjà vu isn’t this cool that I am reading the sequel around the same time feeling. Given that I did not love Insignia with all my heart, I would have just put Vortex off and off and off. Clearly, co-blogging friends are the best.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Other reviews of Vortex by SJ Kincaid:

Recovering Potter Addict – “Vortex was just as much fun as Insignia
Sash And Em – “I loved Vortex just as much as I loved Insignia
Nose Graze – “It was still a good book, it just didn’t have me screaming and shrieking like an excited, insane girl

Books by SJ Kincaid:
Insignia (Allison’s Review)

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I have some mixed feelings about Tom’s character, as well. It’s a mix between respecting how realistic he is as a teenage boy, but also annoyance and exasperation due to his immature actions. But he definitely had to learn his lesson the hard way and mature big time in Vortex. Good to hear you loved this sequel even more than Insignia! S.J. Kincaid is definitely a talented writer.

  2. I want this book so badly. I read Insignia once I found it from the library and I loved it. I’m totally the type that loves the movies with lots of action and explosions so I’m super excited for Vortex. I actually didn’t have a problem with Tom in Insignia; yeah, he was immature, but I kind of love that sometimes because some characters in YA seem too well put together. I’ll still probably enjoy his growth. I also love the political aspect of this series too. There’s an undercurrent of thoughtful that I always appreciate. Great review btw 🙂