Review: The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid

The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid

Title: The Diabolic (The Diabolic, 1)
Author: S. J. Kincaid
Genre: Dystopian, Science Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (1st November 2016)

Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The girl who has grown up by her side and who is as much a sister as a master. There’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have – humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the Empire . . .

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)

THE DIABOLIC is the first book in a new series by S. J. Kincaid. Diabolics are genetically engineered to protect an individual at all cost, and are considered too savage to be human. THE DIABOLIC follows the story of Nemesis, a Diabolic, as she tries to protect her charge Sidonia, the daughter of a galactic Senator. When the Emperor demands that Sidonia graces his court, Nemesis reluctantly takes the place of her master so that Sidonia does not become a hostage in galactic politics. The Emperor’s court is a deadly place, even for a Diabolic, and Nemesis must learn to navigate is quickly.

If this book had not featured in an Illumicrate box I don’t think I would have picked it up, because science fiction/fantasy is not a genre that I tend to enjoy. So it is fair to say that I approached this book cautiously. Although without a doubt this book fits within the science fiction/fantasy genre, it also has a very definite dystopian feel to it – it sort of reminded me of WITHER by Lauren DeStefano in terms of how the world felt, although not in terms of characters or plot. Despite my reservations I did find myself enjoying this book, though I’m not sure where I stand on giving the next book in the series a try.

Going into THE DIABOLIC I have to admit that the blurb did intrigue me. I think Kincaid’s plot lives up pretty well to the promise of the blurb. It’s interesting to see the world through Nemesis’s eyes as the narrator, because in a lot of ways her experience of the world is very similar to the readers – everything is new, and there is a good reason to explain certain things. I also thought having Nemesis as the narrator worked well to let the reader gain some idea of what she was like as a person, otherwise I think she could have come across as very two-dimensional.

THE DIABOLIC is very focused on Nemesis and how she views the world, as such I found a lot of the characters to feel pretty flat – even Sidonia, the one person Nemesis is supposed to love above anyone else, felt pretty bland. I also thought that the plot was a little convoluted, and it felt very like the Empire was actually in Rome rather than in space in terms of court intrigues and machinations. Having said that, I thought certain areas of the plot were interesting and the ending surprised me. It was also interesting to see how Nemesis had changed by the end of the book, and as such how Kincaid raised the question about how human Nemesis is (or not).

I thought the explanation for why things in the Empire are the way they are was pretty realistic – but then, I’m not well versed in the science side of things so take that how you will. If you are a fan of science fiction/fantasy and dystopian novels then THE DIABOLIC is well worth picking up and giving a try. Kincaid has created an interesting and intricate world, with an interesting main character.

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