The Diabolic is a very stabby book…so OF COURSE I LOVED IT.
I, well ahem, have a small love for all things stabtastic (shh, that’s a word) and I’m sure that’s normal and fine and nothing to be worried about. I loved how The Diabolic promised a vicious, weaponised, anti-hero, non-human protagonist — AND WE ACTUALLY GOT ONE. There will be blood tonight! (Points if you get that reference.) So despite not liking one of the finale plot twists, I really enjoyed this book!
- It’s set in space! I don’t read much sci-fi so this was actually quite exciting for me! STARS AND SPACE STUFF WOOO! I love these futuristic settings where they mix an ancient Imperial court (kind of Roman? Greek?) with modern technology and spaceships. It’s like ANCIENT GOODNESS IN OUTER SPACE. #win
- So much stab. I mean, blood doesn’t fly everywhere, so if you’re squeamy, you’ll be fiiiiine. But it’s actually quite vicious and the characters don’t hold back!
- BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT PEOPLE DO. #goodtimes
- Nemesis is an adorable deadly cinnamon roll. She’s a genetically engineered weapon, made as permanent bodyguard programmed to love and protect her mistress, Donia. All Nemesis wants in life is to PROTECT HER DARLING DONIA. She’s can be quite a robot, with you know, the whole stunted-feelings-and-Vulcan-outlook-on-life….exceeeeeept: she secretly has feelings. Which leads to secretly wanting to be human. WHICH LEADS TO SECRETLY BEING AWESOME. She is equal parts fierce and fiercly loving. I like.
- Ooh, look! Manipulation and mind games. I love mind games. This is full of plot twists, blackmail, political intrigue, plots, conspiracies and mind-manipulation amongst the Emperor and his backstabbing family. YAS.
- We must mention Tyrus, of course. He’s the emperor’s nephew and next in line for the throne and QUITE MAD. But I really loved how clever he was. Plus he wasn’t exactly nice which is brilliant — OH STOP RUNNING AWAY FROM THIS REVIEW. COME BAAAAACK. I SWEAR IT’S NORMAL TO LIKE MEAN CHARACTERS. I may seem to be psychotic sitting here saying “Ooh yay mean characters!” but they were actually “mean” as in “these-are-characters-I-can-root-for-because-they-love-fiercely-and-stab-just-as-fiercely”.
- Also there is a super cute dog! And by “cute” I mean it was an ugly brute and Nemesis, aka “cold hearted and unfeeling”, was an absolute marshmallow to her dog. I LOVE THIS. SO MUCH CUTE.
- It was exciting! I get cautious when books are set in imperial courts because it can tend to end in dull tea-parties and the odd cup of poisoned tea. Never fear. There are plenty of near-death and total-death experiences (AND POISONED TEA) and the occasional nice dance where my OTP threatens to break each other’s necks. Which leads me to…
- YES I SHIP IT. Tyrus and Nemesis are damaged, slightly evil, totally poisonous, and darkly good underneath all that. THESE are the kind of characters I love reading about.
- It did vaguely feel like a huge mash up. Look there’s nothing new out there. But when you’ve read a loooooot of books (aka me) you start to feel rather unsurprised by things. Basically this book has a LIST of things it reminds me of. For instance:
- The Winner’s Curse = Grecian/Roman setting with politics and mind games written in a similar style to The Diabolic
- Spark = genetically modified people designed specifically to protect other people
- Red Rising = Grecian/Roman setting with the stabby aspects, plus the carving/changing of people’s bones and things
- The Hunger Games = Capitol fashion and amusement tastes + dictatorship that benevolently kills the lower class
- Red Queen = backstabbing royal family + sci-fi elements
- I mean, OKAY THAT’S A LOT OF BOOKS IT REMINDED ME OF. And books aren’t ever going to be fully original, right?? But as I was reading I couldn’t help going “Yeah I saw that plot twist in Red Queen” and “Oh that’s exactly what they did in Red Rising”….and it took some of the excitement out of things.
- Let’s talk about the dog. But with spoiler tags to be fair to the populace.
- The plot twist at the end WAS ANNOYING. Arghghgh. It’s grating me to pieces. If I was a piece of cheese, I would be grated so finely you could spread me on your pasta sauce and rename me parmasen sprinkles. Not happy. In fact, I want to spoiler discuss this too:
Despite a few squinty glares, I really did totally enjoy this book!
Sure it wasn’t perfect for me, but mind games??? Stabbing?? Starships??? Conspiracies to take down an empire??? Forbidden romance??? Inhuman characters finding their emotional sides??? (Of which that is my favourite trope, okay.) An ending that leaves me wanting more?? Plus a ship that is totally unstable and dangerous and deadly and lovely??? This just ticks so many “YES YES YES” boxes for me that I am notoriously pleased with this book. Go read it, immediately, I say good sir!
THANK YOU TO SIMON AND SCHUSTER FOR THE REVIEW COPY. The Diabolic by SJ Kincaid was published November, 2016.
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 inside her that is true and pure – more so than that of most humans she encounters. Amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life – and the empire.
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