Book Review: The Diabolic – S. J. Kincaid

the-diabolic-sj-kincaid-book-review

Title: The Diabolic (2016)
Author: S. J. Kincaid
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Extent: 416 pages
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Goodreads Description

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.

Review

The Diabolic is the story of Nemesis, an artificial creature created specifically to the person she is chemically bonded with. Her entire life is devoted to Sidonia, a senator’s daughter, and when she has to impersonate Sidonia as the Emperor’s hostage to protect her, she does so completely willingly, even knowing that she might be walking straight into her death.

There is a lot of action and violence in this book. Nemesis is a brutal character, driven by her single purpose of protecting Sidonia. She is quick to eliminate any potential threats that might come Sidonia’s way and lay down her life for Sidonia no matter the costs. Sidonia, for her part, is a sweet, kind person, always wanting more for Nemesis and believing that Nemesis is capable of feeling love.

“I had no soul and very little heart, but what heart there was belonged to her.”

The Diabolic for me was much more of a plot-driven book rather than anything else. For all the characters that we were introduced to, I never felt really attached to them and wasn’t emotionally impacted when something bad happened to them. This isn’t necessarily such a bad thing, because to make up for that, the plot was compelling enough to keep me going. The pacing is generally good, though I did feel like the first half was more gripping and tension-inducing than the second half.

For me, though, it was the world-building that was the most interesting. The story is set far, far into the future (we’re speaking probably thousands of years), and everything is quite… different. Humans are free to change their looks however they want, save for certain signature elements of their appearances. Science and learning are technically banned. Plenty of humanoid are created for sole purposes: Servitors (maids), Exalted (sacrifices), etc. It is gruesome and occasionally uncomfortable.

“It’s a terrifying thing, to realize your own decisions will shape your destiny.”

There is some romance, yes, and it did serve as a driver for drama, but I didn’t mind (or care for) it so much. The internal conflict was mostly centred around Nemesis questioning herself and her nature and purpose in life. Diabolics are meant to be ruthless and emotionless, so what are these things that she’s feeling? Is she capable of more? Is she human in her own special way? For the most part, I think these themes were explored pretty well — not as well as I’d have liked, but adequate.

My biggest complaint is probably the ending: it was much, much too abrupt, and when I reached that last page, it just felt incomplete. I wouldn’t mind a continuation since I felt there were more things to be explored, but this is meant to be a stand-alone and I suppose it could work that way. Overall quite an enjoyable, action-packed book, though I wouldn’t say it’s 100% a must-read.

REAL RATING: 3.5 stars.

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49 thoughts on “Book Review: The Diabolic – S. J. Kincaid

  1. Great review! I’ve seen a lot of mixed thoughts on this book, but I’ve never looked into the details of people’s thoughts on this one until now. I’m so torn! It sounds really interesting, but I am 100% a character oriented reader. But I am certainly intrigued now. Thanks for the review!!

    ~ Lefty @ The Left-Handed Book Lover

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    • If you’re curious but unsure, I recommend checking it out at the library first! For my part I enjoyed it, but I didn’t enjoy it enough to constantly rave about it. 😂 It’s a pretty fast read, though, and I’m glad to have read it. I hope you give it a chance. 💞

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  2. Great review for this book Reg! I’d already added The Diabolic to my to-read list after seeing another review for it but before seeing that one I wasn’t really sure what the book was about. I’d been seeing the cover everywhere but hadn’t really read the blurb.
    It sounds like an interesting book, and it’s a shame the characters didn’t really click with you but at least the plot was enough to keep you reading. Ideally I like books that have all three; great setting, great characters, and a great plot, but I’ve read books where the development of the characters fell in the wayside a little and still really enjoyed them. Plus I’m really intrigued by what you mentioned of the world this book is set in! 😀

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    • Thanks, Beth! I hope my review has helped you to get a clearer idea of what the book is all about. And flaws aside, it is a pretty interesting world for me – I love anything futuristic, and since this is set thousands of years into the future it’s definitely that. I also found it incredibly readable because the beginning scene just pulled me right in, and that’s always a major plus.

      I hope you give The Diabolic a chance and enjoy it more than I do! It’s safe to say that reading this book was effortless, and that’s a good thing. 😉

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  3. I agree with you that the ending seemed kind of abrupt. The good news, though, is that even though this was planned to be a standalone, it was just recently announced (literally only a couple of days ago) that it’s going to be turned into a trilogy instead. 🙂 I’m really excited because (as you know from my review) I loved this book and I think it’ll be nice to see more from that world and will hopefully help with the abrupt ending. Great review, Reg!

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  4. That ending!!! I felt the exact same way about it. Things just seemed to speed up and then smash into a “HERE LOOK EVERYTHING IS SOLVED.” But…. not. Not even Nemesis knows how she feels at the end!

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  5. Aww that sucks about the ending. I’m definitely not a fan of endings that feel abrupt. Especially for a book that is incredibly action packed and intense otherwise. I love the whole concept of the book though and how it questions humanity in a way. Or the idea of what it really means to be human, I guess. I still plan to give it a read eventually but I’ll keep in mind about the ending. Great review, Reg! 😊

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