by S. J. Kincaid
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
In the dystopian novel THE DIABOLIC, by S.J. Kincaid, Nemesis, a Diabolic, devoted her entire life to protecting Sidonia Impyrean (Donia) at any cost necessary; it was what she was created to do. As a result of Senator Impyrean, Sidonia’s father, committing a treacherous act against the empire, Sidonia is summoned to the Emperor's palace, the Chrysanthemum. Nemesis, realizing that Donia is in danger, poses as Sidonia and goes to the Chrysanthemum in her place to protect her, convincing everyone that she is Sidonia Impyrean. When the Emperor damages Nemesis in a way she could not predict, Nemesis plots to kill the Emperor with the help of his crazed nephew and heir, Tyrus Dometrean. Throughout the book, Tyrus helps Nemesis realize that she has human aspects in her when she thought she had none, and causes her to realize that it is possible for her to have emotions the way others do.
I enjoyed reading THE DIABOLIC, and I would give it a rating of seven out of ten stars. There was good character development for most of the main characters, and some of the main characters, such as Tyrus, have their background briefly explained later in the book where it has a greater effect. When Nemesis is collaborating with Tyrus, she forms a small bond with him. This connection evolves throughout their partnership and Nemesis realizes that she is forming a connection to someone other than Sidonia, which mortifies her. Still under the grip of the Emperor, she realizes that she may never see Sidonia again, failing her one purpose in life. This eventually makes her less reluctant to bond with Tyrus, and forms somewhat of a love triangle between her, Sidonia, and Tyrus. Nemesis’s love for Tyrus seems a little bit unnatural to me because Tyrus is the first person Nemesis allowed herself to attach to, not because he was the first person she was attracted to, but because he was the first person to attach to after Nemesis’s realization about Sidonia. When Nemesis first arrived in the Chrysanthemum, the Emperor commands her to tell one of her Servitors (human-like creatures unable to think) to skin herself alive, which has some vivid imagery of the gruesome flay. There is one character who seemingly dies, but then is revealed to be alive, but then dies for real in the presence of Nemesis shortly after they reunite. I did not like this story arc because while it does cause emotional trauma for Nemesis needed for the story, it does not do much for the reader. I have already experienced this character's death, and it has less of an impact the second time, even though Nemesis’s presence makes it much more sad. I think it would have been better to either have that character seemingly die, or only die the second time. There is also a point in the story where the Emperor destroys numerous entire planets. There is a sense of loss and grief in the following chapters, but in my opinion, there was an extreme disregard to the actuality of the loss. These people are sad and scared that they lost their homes and families, but very few people show it. To me, this book resembles a mixture of SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD and PATHFINDER. If there was a sequel to this book, I would want to read it. I would also want to read other books by S.J. Kincaid after reading this, but this book does not make me want to put her other books at the top of my list.