Plot: In a futuristic, sci-fi world, humans live on space ships or in facilities on planetary moons in a distant star system after the destruction of Earth. While these people can alter their physical appearances as easily as changing their clothes, the world of humans is dwindling and growing ignorant. In a political struggle between the religious sect and the scientific sect, the Excess (those who live on planets) are trying to figure out how to repair the ships and devices and mechanics that humans have lived with all of their lives but that are now breaking. Amid this swirl of politics and ignorance lives genetically engineered humans, called Diabolics, who are trained for one purpose: to kill. After the Emperor passes a law that all Diabolics are to be killed because they are too chaotic, Sidonia Impyrean and her parents spare the life of Sidonia’s Diabolic, Nemesis. As Sidonia’s father gains the Emperor’s attention in a negative light, Nemesis is trained and transformed into Sidonia to be sent in her master’s place into the throngs of the political epicenter of their world: the mega-ship, Chrysanthemum. Pretending to be human is difficult for Nemesis, but she navigates through the world of political vipers with an ease that her sweet Sidonia would never have been able to do. Introduce the Emperor’s insane nephew and heir to the thrown, murder plots and even a visit to a planet’s surface, and you’ve got The Diabolic.
Review: Luckily this is one of those books that doesn’t give you a lot of info in the blurb on the jacket. It’s one of those books that is HARD to explain without giving everything away. It’s crafted delicately but deliberately, almost like Nemesis herself. Nemesis, this non-human being bred only to kill and serve Sidonia, is our narrator. That in itself brings about a very interesting point of view. Nemesis is not human, she’s never been treated as such, so her view of the world around her is completely unique. It almost made me forget how much I dislike reading first person because I was so involved in reading how her mind worked and processed things.
I had no idea what was going to happen in this book at the beginning. Everything was new and exciting as the reader had to catch up on the lingo and the new history about the human race in this world created. However, once Nemesis got to the Chrysanthemum, I could pretty much call everything that would and did happen. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the plot. For me, there weren’t many BIG moments, just an even plateau of ebbs and flows. This may be because it took me about three weeks to read (life was crazy) so it may have a bit more impact when read during a few days time instead.
Once I got to the end of the book, I realized that this wasn’t the typical YA book. From the outside, yes, and skimming the surface of the text, yes. But once you dig just a little deeper you can see that Nemesis, the romance that builds for her, and her place and personal development…it all points toward an antagonist rather than a protagonist. I don’t want to use the words “hero” and “villain” since they’re so simple, but in this world, to me at least, Sidonia could be considered more of a hero character with Nemesis as more villainous. I am not really explaining this right, solely because to fully press my point, I’d need to use the very last chapter to quote from and I don’t want to spoil anyone!
Think of it this way: no villain thinks they’re the villain of their own story; if you wrote the villain’s story from a book or series (take Harry Potter for example) the author would write it as THEIR story, so obviously they wouldn’t be the bad guy. That is, Nemesis may have ending up doing some hanky stuff, but she always thought she was doing good.
If I wasn’t so swayed by reading things with a “Social Justice Warrior” lens, I’d probably have enjoyed this a tiny bit more, especially the odd romance. The romance that ALMOST was perfect because it was imperfect and showed as not healthy, but again, the ending sort of foiled a lot of good buildup throughout the climax of the book for me. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have batted an eye and given this five stars just for the originality of the world and characters.
I’d recommend this to anyone who likes interesting sci-fi, wants to feel like hating humans is valid for a little while (in light of the real world humans around us that make us a little less than supportive of our species), and who want to read a book filled with morally gray characters who can’t really be considered heroes or villains…this is the book for you!
Four of five stars just because of the way the romantic relationship was completed in the final chapter, and the semi-slowness of the plot.