Book Title: The Diabolic
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Reviewed By: Chelsea
Series: Diabolic #1
Genres: YA, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Fiction
Date Read: 03/08/17
Pub Date: 11/01/16
Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The girl who has grown up by her side and who is as much as sister as a master. There’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic 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 corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have – humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire…
That cover is shiny and gorgeous, right? It’s initially what made me start oogling this book from afar and keeping it on my radar for months before finally taking the time to read and review it. I finally had a legit excuse to jump on the bandwagon once my Literary Box copy arrived, and while I’ll go into more detail below, I was so grateful I chose to read their copy with the author’s notes inside. This detail made the difference in my final star rating, which I decided to round up to a 4 on Goodreads in case you don’t follow me there. While I did find some inconsistencies and had a few issues, overall this was a highly enjoyable read! I think what had me flipping back and forth was knowing this is yet ANOTHER YA fantasy series in a sea of YA fantasy series and initially it’s what caused me to pause before picking this up to begin with. To it’s credit, this book was much more engaging and enjoyable than I was anticipating from the reviews I read early on; it’s clearly a book that has encouraged healthy debate which I’m always glad to see.
“Did he who made the lamb make thee?”
-William Blake, “The Tiger”
Let’s start at the very beginning. I really appreciated the immediate insight we receive into just who and what a diabolic is. We learn early on that our narrator is called Nemesis and that all diabolics receive fun, intimidating names, such as Enmity, Hazard, and Anguish. These beings are not human and are created for the sole purpose of bonding with an owner, meaning they form a connection to protect only that one human at any and all costs. After we fast forward a bit to present day, there was a good chunk of the book (about 75 pages I’d say) with a great info dump to catch us up to speed. I struggle with these as they have become a staple in most YA Fantasy fiction; the first in the series contains infamous info dump instead of slowly building it into the story. I think this is just a personal peeve of mine, as it’s clearly up to the author to do as they choose and I know a good number of readers who love this aspect and want to gain the world building knowledge as quickly as possible. Once I got through those pages though, I couldn’t put this down! It was exciting, and fun, and had plenty of twists I didn’t see coming, especially in the final 25%. I greatly appreciate the great dedication to detail and complex layering Kincaid went to in order to ensure the story was necessary in an already saturated market.
“Ages ago, humans beings progressed technologically at an exponential rate. We expanded into space; we left Earth and traveled the galaxy. And then the same thing happened that always does-we grew lazy. We had technology we stopped learning how to use. We let machines think for us, act for us. The supernova and rise of the Helionic faith merely worsened a problem that already existed. Our ancestors sought knowledge, but we, their descendants, glorify ignorance.“
That above was my favorite quote from the entire book. Ok, so we don’t have machines taking over like in The Terminator, but how easily we could apply that last bit to today’s time. I always enjoy a plot that involves the banning of books and knowledge; this was a seed that was planted and investigated in this first book that I’m really hoping is more fleshed out in the following chapters of the trilogy. Even if it comes in an allegorical form, how important is it for us to take a step back and recognize how easy it is for us to become lazy with our technology and our need to make sure our learning never ceases. This book was progressive in many ways, but especially in the sense that women and men have equal chances of ruling and flourishing in leadership roles. I wouldn’t say this novel had huge amounts of diversity, but I would chalk that up to the fact that people altered their appearance for basically every scene, as this was part of their culture. The romance was fairly strong and there wasn’t the typical, dreaded love triangle, although there were a few twists in that department and the ending left me wondering who we can trust and how this story will end in the long run. There was a bit of poetic justice that I appreciated for including a bit of diversity in the love department as well. *Insert vague intrigue here!*
I think my only major issue with the plot is in the description above on the book jacket, so not a spoiler. We know going into the book that Nemesis and her diabolic kind are incapable of emotions, feelings, etc, yet Nemesis finds herself developing all of those things. We are literally pounded over the head for 150 pages with “I am not capable of feelings or love. I am programmed like a robot.” And then boom, out of nowhere Nemesis has feelings and emotions like it happened overnight. Why? How? None of this was really described or explained. Again, maybe this will be further explored in the remaining entries, but I was slightly bummed that I’m told for half the book one thing and then there is an immediate 180 that I was expected to believe without questioning.
The reason I decided to go with a 4 instead of 3 star rating on Goodreads was simply due to the influence the author’s notes had over me. For those who missed it, I was sent a YA review crate from The Literary Box by Quarterly Co. that included this book in it. S.J. Kincaid was this quarter’s curator, meaning her book was featured, along with 2 books of her choosing, and The Diabolic came full of post it notes with her personal annotations inside. After experiencing this form of reading, I wish I could pick up all my books this way! I cannot stress how insanely pleasing it was to have insider information that other readers didn’t get to experience. I was able to hear out her explanations of why she chose to write things a certain way, what her family’s reactions were to certain plot points, and how things were re-written to keep certain people alive and kill off those initially meant to not die. Sorry, if you want in to you’ll have to order the box, but I highly recommend doing so! Overall, this was a strong start to the series that I only think I’ll grow more fond of as I continue on.
*Many thanks to Alinn for providing my box for review; it’s been a pleasure sifting through it and reviewing the products!
** In case you missed my initial review of the unveiling of The Lit Box I was sent, you can find that review HERE!