Thank you to Irish Banana Tours for putting me on this tour! I jumped at the chance to take part because this is one of my favorite books of 2016, so I knew I couldn't pass this up.
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 416 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher For Review
Red Queen meets The Hunger Games in this epic novel about what happens when the galaxy’s most deadly weapon masquerades as a senator’s daughter and a hostage of the galactic court.
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, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.
When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.
As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.
THIS. BOOK. I have no words. I freaking loved every aspect of this book. It blew me away completely, but that's something I have come to expect from SJ Kincaid after I fell so in love with her debut novel, INSIGNIA, many years ago.
My one serious complaint about this book is that it is not part of a series. This is a deliciously dark and twisted world that I could read an entire saga about. While I am satisfied to have the entire story in a standalone novel that wraps up incredibly well, I want more. This world is intriguing, and I do not want to leave it behind yet. Hidden companion novel that has not yet been announced, please?!?!
This book showcases Kincaid's vast imagination by giving us a futuristic world that has chosen to forego education and science in exchange for pleasure. And, in it, there are Diabolics. Created from human DNA but raised like machines with one mission: to kill anyone or anything that threatens their masters. Genetically programed to bond with their masters alone, these machines are deadly and very hard to control. Nemesis, our main character, is a Diabolic to a heretic Senator and soon finds herself defending her master, Sidonia, by impersonating her at court to ensure she does not die in her father's stead.
Along the way, Nemesis undergoes a complete character transformation. She kicks major butt without batting an eye and with no regret, which is amazing to see in a main character, especially one with as awesome of a name as her. But, more importantly, she learns about herself. She spent her entire life in a box: acting as a soulless, mindless killing machine because that's the box society put her into. But she can experience emotion and passion and love...maybe even be someone worth loving. This book is her journey of self-discovery and acceptance, learning to navigate the world without blind devotion and on her own, with emotions and aspects of herself the world is saying is unnatural, but is natural because of her human past. Nemesis is a girl, and she's learning to act like one.
Another major plot point in this novel is a whole ton of political maneuvering. In fact, I think the main focus of this novel is all about the politics of this universe. I freaking loved it! It's dark and twisty with behind-the-scenes deals that you never know will work out. True to the easy description of "Game of Thrones in space," there is death, doom, and destruction when it comes to this empire. You do not want to displease a Domitrian. You, your family, your friends...probably your entire planet will be killed.
The world-building is also phenomenal, but that comes as no surprise to me. Kincaid already proved she can write a cool space odyssey with her Insignia trilogy, so I knew she had that part down, but I wasn't expecting such an expansive, complicated, and intriguing empire to sprout from THE DIABOLIC's pages. It is so intense and so well done, I could picture everything so vividly in my mind. Bravo, Kincaid. I really don't know what else to say.
For romance lovers, there is a very nice romance that acts as a sub-plot. It's a nice twist in the story and very refreshing because these two political scorpions are endlessly fascinating and deserve love, but it is by no means a focus of this book, which is super refreshing. The focus of this book lies on more pressing matters, which I appreciate as a science-fiction reader.
I could sit here and write entire paragraphs about the characters, so I am choosing not to in favor of letting you discover them for yourselves. The villains are dastardly, the heroes worth rooting for, and some solid anti-heroes are thrown in for good measure. There is nothing more one could want from such a complex cast of characters.
All in all, this is a book that cannot be ignored. As the book's title implies, Kincaid is an absolutely diabolical author who knows how to keep us on the edge of our seat, turning pages at a lightning fast speed until there are simply no more pages to turn.
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FTC Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for no compensation of any kind except for an honest review.