Book Title: The Diabolic (Standalone) Author: S.J. Kincaid Number of pages: 416
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.
Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr review:
– The Diabolic is a trilogy condensed into a standalone featuring an antihero in Nemesis
– Futuristic space-opera lite with dystopian themes while also weaving modern technology (kind of an Easter Egg effect)
– Though an expansive setting is introduced, it is also hardly developed and/or lacks context in some situations
– Romance can/does feel as though it pushes the conflict a bit more than it should; the ending can feel a bit too neat and easy
– There are pet feels
I want a Diabolic of my own. Or to be one…
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of THE DIABOLIC from Simon and Schuster Canada.
The Diabolic had terrible early comp titles. Red Queen? THE HUNGER GAMES? Dude, c’mon now…
The only similarity is that it displaces a lowly female nobody-in-the-beginning and puts them into the spotlight for some glorious transformation. That’s it. The MC in this story may be closer to Katniss in physicality but she does not have some unyielding super power a la Mare Barrow. Not all dystopian worlds are made equal, okay?
But most importantly, the biggest difference is that The Diabolic doesn’t stretch out the story for the purposes of churning out a trilogy. It whittles down the important plot points found in Generic Book 1, 2, and 3, and condenses it into an unfathomably quick paced story; which as a whole, ultimately delivered what it set out to achieve — that humanity can be found in the most inhuman of things.
From regal court drama to moments of zipping through the intergalactic, The Diabolic is space opera-lite but more-so used as a means to set the backdrop of humanity’s future if/when colonization develops in the cosmos not-Earth. Most of the story takes place in a lavish home of a Grandiloquy (see: the most important House in all of space) where superficiality is easily mistaken for authenticity and friendship. It is a not-so futuristic society built on the influence of contemporary technology. From Omegle to plastic surgery to highlighting addictions, there is nuance and an unnerving sense of familiarity that calls to what the future could very well look like.
The biggest non-issues I have with The Diabolic is its apparent gargantuan world which is left unexplored as it does not serve the conflict. To give you a narrative comparison, this would be your “meat and potatoes” of second books — duly noted of suffering from second book syndrome for being slowly paced and extremely info-dumpy. But here’s the thing: I typically enjoy second books as I find that they tend to bring most books to life. So while I did want to know more about the culture and variances in each specific star-and-planet (e.g. The “Interstellar” film in seeking planetary differences), I do acknowledge that it is not necessarily in scope for this standalone. It’s just that when you introduce Sciencey-Name-#4 which has no bearings on the MC or the plot (really), what’s the point?
While I’m on the team that [really] disliked how this story ended, I’m also of the opinion that it couldn’t have really ended any other way. What a fucking dilemma, right? This ending is going to haunt me and this review rating because I cannot get over how/why it ended the way it did (yes, screw being a conscientious review. I’mma be petty).
One thing is for certain: the romance can (and does) get in the way of the story. I’m mixed about how this instalust/love is treated because I agree that Nemesis, as a Diabolic, is experiencing a world of firsts, she is experiencing this alongside other elements that make up this new world which she is trying to survive. So to have the romance dominate so much of the story is a bit of a doozy for my tastes.
However, the intent behind the non traditional family dynamics between Nemesis and Sidonia; which can really be a proxy to any relationship, is arguably the best (and my favourite) subplot to this entire story. The friendship/sisterhood dynamic could have been easily overwritten and felt forcibly trite but Kincaid handles their development throughout the course of the story by weaving in their history together to juxtapose with their current predicament.
The best thing The Diabolic offers is that almost everyone has an agenda, and everyone thrives on their own self interest. So often dystopian stories mishandles the heroism to prove some altruistic message but so much of that can be done by association and as a product of antiheroes.
Nemesis is that antihero. While she becomes bound by the challenge and internal struggle of defining her self re: humanity, there is a delicate balance — a teeter-totter effect, if you will — that shows her depth and exponential growth from beginning to end.
The “antagonist” and/or morally ambiguous “villain” (whom, I actually can’t say for certain that they really fit that construct), was so great and such a disappointment at the same time. Sigh. It’s how their revelation unwinds towards the ending that failed to compel me.
There is also a pet in this story. That is all.
As a whole, I really did enjoy Kincaid’s The Diabolic. The pacing of the story beckoned me to continue reading. It is equal parts explosive with action and deviously motivated by politics and ambiguous characters drenched in their own self-interest. I can understand why this book is held in such high regards and is touted as one of Simon & Schuster’s forefront titles being pushed this fall.