Author: Julie Cross
Genre: YA contemporary, wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff, thriller, urban fantasy
Publication Date: January 15, 2013 (St. Martin’s Griffin/Macmillan – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided finished copy
Summary: Julie Cross’s Vortex is the thrilling second installment of the Tempest series, in which the world hangs in the balance as a lovelorn Jackson must choose who to save
Jackson Meyer has thrown himself into his role as an agent for Tempest, the shadowy division of the CIA that handles all time-travel-related threats. Despite his heartbreak at losing the love of his life, Jackson has proved himself to be an excellent agent. However, after an accidental run in with Holly—the girl he altered history to save—Jackson is once again reminded of what he’s lost. And when Eyewall, an opposing division of the CIA, emerges, Jackson and his fellow agents not only find themselves under attack, but Jackson begins to discover that the world around him has changed and someone knows about his erased relationship with Holly, putting both their lives at risk all over again.
☆: 4/5 stars – a great (but confusing) follow-up to “Tempest”!
Review: Okay, I’m going to admit it – while I loved “Tempest” because it made everything so easy to understand when it comes to time travel/alternate universes, “Vortex” was a bit of a mess when it came to that. Just thought I should get that off my chest. However, though the mess/confusion did lower my enjoyment of the book a bit, this is still a damn good sequel, and it doesn’t have any middle book syndrome. While I’m going to attempt a spoiler-free review, I definitely can’t promise one, so you’ve been warned, guys. “Vortex” is a wild ride, no less than its title promises, and I definitely can’t wait for book three.
What I think Cross improved in the most in terms of the technical terms of things was character development. There was so much of it, and because of that, I feel like the world got all the more richer for it. Not only did we get more on Jackson, Holly, Thomas, and Emily, we also got a lot of awesome new main cast characters that I hope return in book three. Particularly, those who felt the big lack of female character development in book one, book two more than makes up for any deficiencies book one might have had. And no love triangle! I can’t tell you guys how happy that made me. We also get answers as to what creates the EOTs, though that’s where things start getting confusing. It’s almost as if Cross was trying to figure it out along with the audience, and while usually that’d be interesting, here it just felt incredibly messy. However, I do like what we got on Holly, Stewart, and Kendrick in this book, so it evens out. Kind of.
The world got a great boost in this book as we get lots of new information – how Eyewall and Tempest relate to each other, as well as the EOTs and the future in general (and Emily, too). We also get an approximation of when the EOTs and Emily are from, which was awesome, and the sensory imagery and language used when talking about that future, it was awesome – and we also see how the title of the book relates to the plot, particularly to Emily and the future. And what was great about this was the fact that I felt that Cross didn’t do a lot of infodumping. She interspaced things pretty well up until the end – and then there was kind of a minor infodump in the last 50 pages or so. But considering the fact that I felt book one had an issue with infodumping, this is great progress on Cross’ part.
We also get a lot more emotional development on the part of our characters in the fact that Cross has seemingly finally entirely shed any reservations we may have seen in book one about torturing/killing her darlings. We lose one of my favorite characters in this book (I won’t say who), but it was worth it just to see how the entire cast changed because of it. There is a LOT of pain thrown around in this book, but there are some wonderful warm fuzzy moments that are pain-filled in this book, mostly revolving around Jackson, but still, I’m glad they were there. I feel like everyone in this book (new characters included) really grew well because of these personal journey arcs very silently tacked on (almost under the radar for the rest of the main cast), and that’s always a great thing to see.
However, the info we do get in relation to jumping and time travel here, as I said before, is really, really muddled. This is where I feel like there could have been one more draft or copyedit, to help smooth things out. It got hard to keep track of what was a legitimate “jump”, what was considered an alternate universe instead of just jumping around in time, even with graphic aids as drawn by Jackson in his journal. The only thing that felt clear were the description of the “Thomas-jumps”, and the rest, well, let’s just say you’re really going to have to work for that information and hope that you put it all together in time by the heart-stopping end of the book. While usually I’d complain about a cliffhanger being used, I didn’t mind it here because everything FINALLY came together in an easily understandable coherent fashion.
But regardless of my gripes about being able to follow everything time-travel related, this book was really unputdownable (and I hate using that term, but it’s really the most appropriate one to use here). I was riveted pretty much the whole time, and at no point did anything drag or did my attention wander. While the information was messily complex, it was still great fun to have such a puzzle to work on throughout the book. I think fans of the first book are going to be pretty satisfied with this sequel, and are going to be foaming at the mouth for book three. I know I am.
Final verdict? If you’ve started your “Tempest” journey, you simply must continue on with “Vortex”. “Vortex” is out now from St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne Books/Macmillan in North America, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance!