The Diabolic is S.J. Kincaid’s most recent novel, and since its release on November 1st, 2016, it has quickly sky-rocketed in popularity – and for good reason. The Diabolic is a strong addition to the Young Adult Fantasy/Sci-Fi genre, with memorable characters, strong motivations and mind-blowing events that will leave readers reeling long after they’ve closed the book.
“Perhaps scorpions were the only ones who could save each other.
Whatever lay ahead, it would always be the two of us above the rest of the universe, and woe to any who dared step in out path.” – S.J. Kincaid, The Diabolic
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 (chapters.indigo.ca).
I went into The Diabolic a bit skeptic – the premise seemed to be leading in a predictable direction. Diabolic, deemed inhuman, finds love and in the process, her humanity, against all odds saving everyone and living happily ever after. And I wasn’t wrong – the majority of the plot was quite predictable, but Kincaid threw in enough twists and shocking events that the story as still enjoyable and entertaining.
What I Liked:
- The lack of a love-triangle. With Nemesis assuming Sidonia’s place, I assumed (incorrectly) that Kincaid would eventually throw in a love triangle involving Sidonia, Nemesis and some unnamed third party (who would be unaware that there were two Sidonia’s interacting with him). Thankfully, Kincaid avoided this cliche story device in favour of some more interesting and twisted relationships.
- Tyrus and Nemesis’ relationship. The dynamic between the two, and the nature of their relationship is quite unique, and didn’t feel cliche at all, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
- The cruelty and maliciousness of the Emperor – Kincaid created a true, hateful villain here, and as a reader, its refreshing. Truly, the Emperor did not have any redeeming qualities, and reading a book with a truly heinous villain was refreshing.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Sidonia – she’s whiny, she’s constantly contradicting her own morals, and her character is utterly redundant after Nemesis leaves to take her place as a hostage. Why Kincaid felt the need to keep re-introducing her character and forcing her upon the plot is simply beyond me.
- The rushed ending. After a relatively well-paced plot throughout the novel, Kincaid comes up short in the final pages of The Diabolic by rushing through a jam-packed sequence of action and deception, with very little explanation and even less time for readers to take in what was going on. Most authors, if they do so, info-dump at the onset of the story – Kincaid did it at the end, and it just left the book feeling unfinished and rushed.
The Diabolic is definitely worth a read – it not only lives up to expectations, but the twists and turns make for an enjoyable story despite the predictability of the overall plot. Most of the characters are enjoyable and memorable, with Sidonia being a notable exception. My only major complaint it the was in which Kincaid wrapped up the book, but otherwise, The Diabolic was a well executed addition the the Young Adult Fantasy/Sci-Fi genre (3.5/5).