The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

The Diabolic

# of Pages: 403

Time it took me to read: 5 days

# of pages a day to finish in a week: 58

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Nemesis is not human. She is a Diabolic, a humanoid creature bred to be a bodyguard to the sons and daughters of the Grandiloquy, the ruling class of the galactic empire. Nemesis is bonded to Sidonia Impyrean, who is the daughter of the senator that is the greatest threat to the Emperor himself. When Sidonia is called to court as a glorfied hostage, Nemesis knows what she must do to save the girl she is sworn to protect. She must become her. While in disguise, Nemesis must learn what it truly means to be human, and her actions may cause the biggest shift in her empire’s history.


You know, I have to start out by saying that this book was a bit of a branch-out for me. Though I am a life-long lover of Star Wars, I’m not really that into sci-fi. I don’t really have a base knowledge of the structure of sci-fi in the same way that I do for fantasy. And through the beginning of this story, I thought that it might become a problem for me.

This story, like many of the books I’ve been reading lately, was slow to start for me. While the concept of this story is immediately apparent and immediately fascinating, to me it takes a little bit too long for the whole concept to be explained. Basically, the entire first 100 to 150 pages was an explanation of the science, the political system, and the religion of this world. And while it’s all very well thought out and fascinating, it doesn’t leave much room for a lot to happen plot-wise. It also didn’t help me to begin to feel attached to the characters, though Nemesis herself I believe is a very interesting character study.

In my many years reading as many books as I could get my hands on, I came across many main characters that weren’t strictly human. But I would classify all of them as “people”, a broad term that, to me, describes any creature that has feelings and thoughts and makes decisions that we, as the reader, can understand as choices that we might make if we were in that position. But reading this book from the perspective of Nemesis, at least in the first half of the book, is really very intriguing because it is almost like reading from the perspective of a robot.

Nemesis is technically human-like, bred with intense physical strength and supposedly “modified” brain capacity, but she doesn’t think or act like a human would, and she doesn’t see herself as human. I think that, overall, Nemesis as a character is the greatest triumph of this book.

I have to give Kincaid all of the points for character and world building, absolutely brilliant. Her political system is largely based off of the Roman Imperial system, which I love because I am a total classical history nerd. The only reason that I can’t give it a higher rating isn’t really a problem for me, but I suspect would be a problem among the more selective readers out there. And that problem is predictability.

If you read enough books, eventually you start to pick up a pattern. Am I still surprised by books? Absolutely. Do I go looking for the patterns in every book so as to basically “ruin” the story for me? Absolutely not. I take pride in being able to take a book page by page, so that even if I look back on the book after I’ve finished it and decide that I wasn’t really surprised by anything that happened, I can still say that I enjoyed the book overall.

I think the biggest problem that Kincaid has in this story is giving the story away to the reader ahead of the character. She drops all these fairly obvious hints about what is about to happen, and so the reader knows, but it takes Nemesis or Tyrus or whoever pages and pages more to figure it out, even though some things are totally obvious and both of these characters are extremely intelligent. It certainly exasperated me a few times, even though I very much enjoyed the book as a whole.=

Long story short, I would absolutely recommend this book to folks who like young adult, even if you don’t like sci-fi, because after the beginning part it becomes very friendly and easy to follow even for those who aren’t super familiar with the genre. If predictability is a big problem for you, however, I’d maybe pass this one by (though the last 30 pages actually did hold a few surprises for me, so it certainly ended on a positive note).

If you liked The Diabolic, try: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

Matched by Ally Condie

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