Reading fiction is one of my all-time favorite hobbies. There will always be those books that had you itching to read it, only to find that the story didn’t live up to your expectations. On the other hand, there will be those books that have gripping stories and dynamic characters that suck you deep within the book’s pages and won’t let you go. And today’s highlighted novel did just that.
Nemesis is not human. As a diabolic, a non-human species engineered for protection, she has no emotions or feelings. Her only mission is to protect her master at all costs. Bound to Sidonia, the daughter of Senator of Impyrean, Nemesis is only devoted to her. When Sidonia’s safety is threatened, Nemesis is faced with the unavoidable: she must pose as the Senator’s daughter. Set in a futuristic, galactic world, S. J. Kincaid constructed a universe of hierarchy and power, lies and deception.
Unlike my last read, The Diabolic is fast-paced and riveting. Possibly one of the more unique aspects of the plot is the setting. While there are definitely books out there that focus on space and galactic worlds, the majority don’t. Many authors are currently focusing on post apocalyptic societies, whether they be as a result of a virus or some other uncontrollable devastation. While in some ways, it would seem that this universe is set in an after-Earth time period, it chose to focus on the present as well as the future of their worlds, rather than the past.
I wanted to scream. It rose in my throat, the blinding scream of fury at the fate that said I was worth so little, that everything I felt and everything I was, was just an adjunct to a real human being, because I was more than this. She was more than this. We were more than this.
(The Diabolic, p. 192)
If you haven’t read The Diabolic, then let me just say that this is a story of deception and betrayal, dragging Nemesis right in the middle of it. As the politicians and upper-class individuals disagree with one another or kill each other off, Nemesis must make decisions that could result in her own death. Or worse, the death of Sidonia. Existing as Sidonia’s diabolic, her loyalties lie with her. This facet adds for an interesting caveat in the story, and I enjoyed to see how the plot unfolded. Nemesis’ loyalty proved to be the driving force behind so many of her actions rather than her own well-being. I suppose you could say that Nemesis is a selfless character.
Nemesis easily ranks as one of my all-time favorite protagonists. As I read her story, I couldn’t help but feel attached to her, hoping she would succeed. While Nemesis is a well-rounded character, there were a few qualities that stood out to me and made me appreciate what the author did. The first quality is possibly the most easily recognized: resilience. As a diabolic, Nemesis is by no means fickle or frivolous in her personality or actions. Having just completed a series whose main characters were at times gushy and too easily swayed, the steadfastness of Nemesis was refreshing. And yes, she kicks butt too. She was engineered for it and she does a good job.
Another noteworthy character trait would be her loyalty. After all, isn’t the entire plot of the book based on just that? It is because of the protagonist’s loyalty that she was used to protect the Senator’s daughter. It was because of her loyalty that Nemesis gets sent to the Chrysanthemum in Sidonia’s place. And it’s because of her loyalty that the rest of the book happens that way it does. (*No spoilers here. You need to read this one for yourself.)
The final trait that shines through is her compassion. Kincaid skillfully takes the reader from viewing Nemesis as an unfeeling, calculating creature to a person capable of love, pity, and sorrow. None of these steps were drastic or unbelievable. It was endearing to see how Nemesis responded to her developing emotions as she pushed away feelings and attempted to suppress them. In many ways, it was even relatable. However, the author made sure to keep Nemesis as a diabolic. Even at the end of her story, her responses and emotions are still tinged with a diabolic’s mindset.
I pressed a hand over my mouth and jammed back the rough sound that wanted to emerge. I had the strength of four men, yes. But I did not have the strength to endure another loss like that one. Having a heart that burned with emotion meant having a flame that could be doused in an instant by forces you could not fight, perils you could not see. To care was to be helpless in the worse possible way.
(The Diabolic, p. 280)
And yet, each character in the story was well done. From Cygna to Neveni, Kincaid painted a clear picture of each one. Occasionally, authors falter on the “less important” characters, but for The Diabolic, this was never the case. While some characters were obviously evil and others were apparently good, there were the ones who shifted in Nemesis’ eyes, Tyrus being one them. Throughout several points in the book, you may not even be certain of whether he will be a hero or a villain. As Nemesis struggles with her feelings towards him as well as her loyalty to Sidonia, readers are taken on a series of twists and turns.
It drew a jagged gash across her cheek, but she snare my arm and wrenched it behind me, twisting at my ligaments. I yelled out reflexively, my prickling fingers dropping the knife; then I jammed my heel back into her instep. Her foot crunched and she roared in pain. I whirled about and slammed her across the face with my fist, sinking one punch after another into her, then kicked her away from me.
(The Diabolic, p. 170)
Although I felt that the book was low on content, this may be subjective to each reader’s opinion. Sensuality was at a minimum in this particular novel. With the main character being a diabolic, that may have had something to do with it. Of course, with a developing love interest in the story, there were a few kissing scenes, but nothing beyond that in the relationship.
This book did surprise me with something that is a little out of the ordinary. There is a moment in the book when rape is mentioned, but thankfully, avoided. Nothing in depth or raunchy takes place and it is not developed. I will just tell you that Nemesis knows how to handle herself and leave it at that. (*Still not giving away spoilers because you simply need to read the book!)
As for violence: yes. It’s in here. Not overly so or disgusting, but with Nemesis being a diabolic she does know how to take down threats.
Was there language in The Diabolic? Honestly, I never noticed it. Language was minimum and out of the way, allowing readers to focus on the beauty of the plot and characters rather than the words.
As a whole, I wouldn’t recommend this book for a younger audience. Although the book is “clean” by my own standards, the few things I mentioned above would be better suited for older teens and adults.
So that’s my verdict on The Diabolic. I loved every page of this book and struggled to put it down. If you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend this being the next thing you pick up. And if you have read it, please share your own thoughts in the comments below! Did you like it, or not so much?