Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 1st 2016
Genres: young adult, science fiction, dystopia
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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. Nothing else.
For Nemesis, that person is Sidonia, heir to the galactic Senate. The two grew up side by side, and there’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the Imperial Court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.
She must become her.
Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced Senators’ children, and Nemesis must find within herself the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have—humanity. With the Empire beginning to fracture and rebellion looming, that could be the one thing that saves her and the Empire itself.
I absolutely adored S.J. Kincaid’s first book, Insignia. I have not finished that series yet (I own it though), but when I heard the buzz about this book and saw it at ALA, I knew I had to pick it up. I wasn’t sure about the synopsis, actually. I am picky about which books I actually read. Heck, sometimes I pick up books due to the synopsis, and then months later, decide I don’t want to read them after all. And then sometimes I use random.org to choose which book I will read next. But with this one, I actually picked it up, read the synopsis, and decided to read it because I was really in the mood for a science fiction novel.
The Diabolic is one of the most violent young adult novels I have ever read. There have been a good few, but this one definitely rates up there with the top. There are lots of deaths, and some of them are violent and spectacularly graphic. Don’t get attached to anyone. Seriously. S.J. Kincaid is not afraid to kill her darlings.
Nemesis was genetically engineered to be bonded and to protect (with her life) one person. That person is Sidonia. Her father, the Senator von Imperyian is in a bit of trouble with the Imperial Court. He believes in the sciences, and he belongs to the opposing faction of the government and the Emperor sees him as a threat. As a result, his daughter, Sidonia, is called to the Chrysanthemum, but Sidonia’s parents send Nemesis in her stead, disguising her to look and behave like Sidonia.
The problem is, diabolics are not supposed to exist anymore. The Emperor purged all of them, but Sidonia’s family refused to do that with Nemesis. So when she gets to the Chrysanthemum, she has to work incredibly hard not to be discovered, while at the same time, pretending to be Sidonia.
What follows is an incredibly tense, exciting, and compulsively readable science fiction novel. No, it is not perfect, but I enjoyed it very much. Being in Nemesis’s head was a bit weird. Because she was not supposed to have normal emotions and desires like humans did, her point of view was quite a bit detached until much later in the book. Some readers are not going to like this, and I totally get it. I think what kept me going was my interest in the plot and wondering what was going to happen next. Violent things kept happening, people kept dying, and I didn’t know what the author had planned next.
I enjoyed the romance, and I thought it presented a very interesting dynamic that was quite original. Nemesis working out her feelings for those around her and wondering if she could love and desire kept me intrigued. I wouldn’t say there was a love triangle, but I appreciate that the author went in a different direction with it while still keeping it fresh and new. If this is vague, it’s because I don’t want to reveal spoilers.
I definitely enjoyed The Diabolic, and I highly recommend it. I think it’s a standalone. To me it definitely reads as a standalone, though I do more could be written in this universe as there is still much more to be discovered if the author wanted to go there. But I am also fine with it being a single book. It had a completely satisfying ending. Trigger warnings for attempted rape and animal violence.