Note: This review contains spoilers for Tempest. It’s spoiler-free for Vortex.
Last year, I listened to the audiobook of Tempest and became totally intrigued by Julie Cross’ story about a boy, Jackson, who discovers he can time travel. It was wonderfully enigmatic and captivating. So I was pretty excited to receive the sequel, Vortex, to review, this time in its print form. It was an adjustment getting used to experiencing the next part of Jackson’s story in a different medium. Audiobooks assure that you take your time absorbing a story; whereas when reading, you, for the most part, control the pace. Vortex is literally a vortex of a read. It’s fast-paced, packed with information and surprises, and before you know it, you’re at the end and want to travel back to the time when you were just beginning because it can’t be over already!
Vortex picks up right where Tempest ends, with Jackson walking away and traveling back in time, in order to protect Holly from getting shot. It was a tough decision to make, but Jackson is determined to do what he thinks is the right thing and erase them and everything that has happened from his life to start over. He tells his dad that he wants to join the CIA and help them defeat the EOTs (Enemies of Time). Of course, his dad is surprised because Jackson traveled back to a time before his dad knew that Jackson had learned about his abilities. Explanations and confidences are exchanged, and Jackson leaves New York City to begin training with other new agents in the Tempest program. There, he makes some new friends and deals with some not-so-friendly people. Yet, he knows not to trust anyone, but as circumstances and missions start to become questionable, he has no choice but to start trusting his team so they can discover the truths of time travel and the dangerous situations they keep finding themselves in.
As mentioned, the pacing is fast. Cross rushes through Jackson’s time at training, giving us enough to understand his time there and people he meets. It’s after that point that story finally kicks into gear as the new agents are thrown into missions, knowing so little information. You can feel Jackson’s frustration radiating from the pages, as he tries to suppress his questions and obey orders. But eventually, he can’t do it anymore, especially when they send the agents back to New York City, where Jackson inevitability bumps into the girl he’s so in love with and trying to avoid: Holly, a Holly that has never met him and has no idea who he is. It’s in his moments with Holly again and even when thinking about her that Cross nails writing Jackson’s heartbreak and longing. Even if I thought Holly’s character was a little flat in Tempest (she’s a lot more fascinating in the sequel), there was no doubting the genuineness of Jackson’s love for her. And you feel it threefold in Vortex.
Still, the sequel is much less of a romance than the first book was. The main focus in this book is to understand the intricacies of time travel in this world. Jackson lays out some theories in the beginning, and as the story moves along, more and more tidbits are revealed further explaining how time travel and parallel universes work. It does get confusing at times, and I found myself having to reread some details slowly to fully comprehend what they mean. There’s a ton of information unloaded, and with all the twists and turns, getting the facts straight is a bit of work. But I didn’t mind it because it’s nice when everything isn’t handed to you in a nice pretty box with a bow. Vortex made me think, forced me to sit back and work out some logic. When was the last time a book had you do that?
Vortex has a great ending. So great that I really have no clue what to expect in the next book, other than that it will be very interesting. Somewhat mildly predictable in a couple parts, Vortex is still a maelstrom of a ride that introduces new characters and reveals surprising things about old ones. It’s gripping and imaginative. Fans of Tempest will be happy to have some time travel questions answered and eager to find answers to the multitude of new questions that Vortex raises in the next and final book.
Rating: 8.5/10 ★★★★★★★★☆
Did ya hear? Tempest might become a movie! Learn more about it here!
Vortex by Julie Cross will be available wherever books are sold on Tuesday, January 15th. Support The Young Folks and pre-order the book from our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.
- Publisher: Thomas Dunne and Griffin Books (January 15, 2013)
- Length: 352 pages (Hardcover)
- Series: The Tempest Trilogy #2
- Source: Hardcover (Provided to me by the publisher)
- Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel, Thriller, Action, Romance
- Completed: January 2013