First published: 2016
Author: S. J. Kincaid
Synopsis: A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.
Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. When the power-hungry emperor summons Sidonia to the imperial court as a hostage, Nemesis has only one way to protect her. She must become her.
A standalone YA (ish) sci-fi is an elusive and endangered species. A good standalone YA (ish) sci-fi… well I don’t even remember when I read one last. Until I read The Diabolic, that is.
This book was a very refreshing read for me. I have been reading mainly fantasy recently, and while I love fantasy to pieces, I do need a little break every now and again. I really liked the idea of it and I really liked the characters. I liked Nemesis and her amorality. And I loved how the very things that were supposed to make her other than human were the very things that her humanity stemmed from. It was really well done in my opinion.
And then there was Tyrus. I loved him. I’ve always loved devious, scheming bastards and Tyrus reminds me a bit of Kaz from Six of Crows (thought Kaz is superior!). He is so devious, almost ruthless in his plots and manipulations, it makes you wonder which one of them is really diabolic. This sort of amorality/moral ambiguity has always appealed to me for some reason.
The plot surprised me. There were several times throughout the book when I expected things to go differently, which was a good thing. It kept me guessing. And it was also very compact without being vague. It gives the reader sufficient details about a fairly complex world, without being boring, without over-focusing on world-building. It was very well written. It’s rare to see standalone fantasy or sci-fi and when you do get one, either the world-building is sketchy, or there’s too much of it and the plot is barely there. This had a very good balance of the two.
Throughout the book, I was in two minds about how I should rate it. I was leaning towars 4 stars, not because I didn’t really like it, but I didn’t love it as much as I love some of the other books I rated 5 stars, even though I do generally rate on a curve. But I really liked how it ended. I liked that it was sort of… uncertain whether what one of the characters said (I can’t really say more than that). And I liked that it was open ended in the sense that there are a lot of issues within the world and the story that remain to be resolved, but it doesn’t make the book feel unfinished. It feels like the right place for it to have ended. So I gave it 5 stars in the end.
I recommend this book for sci-fi lovers. It’s a well written book and it’s a refreshing read if you’re used to your standard YAs.