Sunday, August 11, 2013

REVIEW: Vortex by S.J. Kincaid

Vortex (Insignia, #2) Vortex by S.J. Kincaid
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I thought after the events of book 1 Tom would learn his lessons and be cautious and prudent in book 2. Nope. *anger eye-twitch* He acted the same as before. No character growth. No lessons learned. Dude was fucking TSTL.

*flips table*

Rambling rant ahead.

+ the main character

Tom pissed off every influential and powerful person he came across. He pissed off people he needed help from, people he couldn’t afford as enemies, people who could make his life very hard for him or put an end to his life altogether. They were bad people so I understood the reasons for his flippant attitude but that was no excuse to go and shake the fucking beehive.

Tom wanted to become an Intrasolar Combatant and fight epic battles among the stars, yet every single action of his showed otherwise. Dude was unbelievably self-destructive. I would admire his courage to stand up to the bad guys and fight for his ideals and not take the dirty path to attain his dream if he wasn’t such a filthy hypocrite. I was frustrated at how Tom never considered what it really meant to be a Combatant or realized the great depth of his hypocrisy if by some godforsaken miracle he does become one. To become a Combatant meant to become a pawn of the bad guys and perpetuate the corruption, oppression, and everything that is wrong with society and the world.

For someone who helped his father swindle, no matter if their targets were bad guys, Tom had little right criticizing others for swindling themselves. Yes, those people were evil capitalists, but that just meant they were swindlers of a much higher level. The point is that Tom was no paragon of righteousness yet he acted as if he was much to my irritation. Hypocrite!

Tom knew how things worked in the dystopian world yet he bumbled along through life like he didn’t. He thought he could just head-butt his way towards his goals. He was so astoundingly bull-headed that he took the phrase “dumb as bricks” to several new levels.

Tom failed to practice vital discretion with his technopathy because if people found out about his very rare ability he would get a one-way ticket to the laboratory. He never once thought to train his ability and use it to survive and get the upper hand. For instance, if he thought to use his technopathy for espionage, many bad things could have been easily avoided. So fucking easily.

Tom acted with no consideration of the consequences whatsoever, impulsive as fuck. He ignored countless pieces of advice and warnings, common sense be damned. He was so insufferably TSTL that when one of the bad guys made good on his death threat I felt no pity. I actually felt a little joy that it happened, a little disappointed that it didn’t happen sooner, and a bit surprised and befuddled that it didn’t happen more often considering the growing number of enemies Tom made as the plot progressed.

In summary, the main character was TSTL on so many levels, levels that I have not even begun to scratch the surface of, that hardly a chapter went by where I didn’t think he was an absolute waste of space. A discussion of Tom’s personality flaws and dumbass decisions could fill up a book on its own.

+ issues with other characters

I also took issue with other characters. Of course, they were nowhere near problematic as Tom.

Elliot was one of the cyborgs and Intrasolar Combatants, and I didn’t like how he was used as a prop character. He had no purpose other than showing up very conveniently to show Tom the errors of his ways and simultaneously show the readers how dystopian and shitty the world was. Just when I thought things couldn’t get more contrived with Elliot, it did. Elliot underwent a sudden change of personality for a dramatic scene towards the end. The scene was supposed to be this gleam of light in the dark, designed to bring a sense of hope to the story so the readers would believe things could change for the better. However, all I could think of was that Elliot got infected with Tom’s TSTL-ness. Holy hell, Tom’s TSTL-ness was contagious!

Heather was another cyborg and a Combatant like Elliot, and I didn’t like how she was portrayed negatively. Heather was self-interested, self-empowered, and a sexual character, and for these qualities she was inflicted with a Madonna-whore narrative complex. As one of the prominent female characters with Wyatt and Medusa, Heather was the one with the sex appeal and sexual interests, and she alone was made out to be a bitch. Nice.

Blackburn was one of the bad guys, a mad scientist trope. I found it very odd how things between him and Tom were, for the most part, drama-less. I expected the two to duke it out after what happened in book 1. Instead, I saw Blackburn helping out Tom a few times. The fuck? It was just very inconsistent how Blackburn’s character was established from the ending scenes of book 1 where his true self was finally revealed. Vengeful. Paranoid. Has a loose screw. The guy should be trying to get Tom on a lab table to be prodded, poked, and vivisected.

Last but not least, I wish there was more nuances to the evil capitalist bad guys. Not that these characters weren’t believable, but at their very core they all seemed to blend together and the traits that make them different seemed superficial.

+ characters I liked

About the only characters I liked were Wyatt and General Marsh. I liked Wyatt because among Tom’s cyborg peers she seemed to be the only one who had any sense and who took things seriously. She was one of the few characters who would be the least likely to make a stupid mistake and get killed. Quite pitiful the cast.

I liked General Marsh because he was a dimensional character. I saw him as a good guy despite the bad things he did. I didn’t like what he did but I understood his reasons. He fully understood the dystopian world and the necessity for change, and he didn’t hesitate to get his hands dirty. Whether readers like him or hate him, at least someone was doing something to change the world, something that was actually productive. I wished the book featured more of General Marsh. His appearances were very few for someone who was an important character.

In Conclusion

I rate Vortex 2-stars for it was okay. Despite the aggravation that was Tom, the book was engaging. I liked the science fiction elements and the world building.

If you like this series, check out Psion Beta and Data Runner.

Goodreads | Amazon

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