Okay, I truly, honestly feel that everyone has been sleeping on this YA series.
And it disappoints me.
Because generic ensemble poo rises in YA sci-fi, and the twisty, turny, complex (ish) and delicious mess that is the Diabolic trilogy sinks into oblivion.
So here are my reviews from the trilogy (light edited). I was lucky enough to get ARCs for all three books, starting from when I was a baby NetGalley user who was so excited to receive the hotly anticipated book one, to the jaded grump I am today. It’s interesting to see how my review writing has changed (or not) over the years.
After you get done reading this trilogy, check out her first one. SJ Kincaid is a YA writer to watch!
Nemesis is a Diabolic, a genetically modified humanoid (superhuman!) who can rip your spleen through your throat with her bare hands. Diabolics are the bodyguards of elite Galactic children, and will do anything to ensure the health and safety of their charge. But when the Emperor orders all Diabolics killed and Nemesis’s charge to the capital as a hostage, Nemesis is tasked with her most dangerous charge of all: go in Sidonia’s place, and act human. When Sidonia and her family are murdered after all, Nemesis vows vengeance on the Emperor.
Plots upon plots upon plots. There’s backstabbing, a little romance, more plotting and a side-dose of politicking. There is violence. Gory violence. Bloody violence. Nemesis is a fucking cold-blooded killer, and she does kill. That’s how she was made. Throughout it all is the question of what makes something human—does being made count?
Overall, an excellent read (I know, I know, sparse on the details). S.J. Kincaid can spit on a napkin and I’d read it. Hyperbole? You’ll never know. I can’t wait for the sequel. Because there must be a sequel. It can’t end like this. IT CAN’T END LIKE THIS—
Remember the HEA of The Diabolic? Well, kinda a HEA.
Nemesis and Tyrus are struggling with the aftermaths of their actions from the first book, particularly with Tyrus’ declaration of Nemesis as his fiancee. Things go from difficult to bad when Senator Pasus begins to gather control and Nemesis learns that Tyrus’ main source of power, the Domitrian sceptor, isn’t working—and shift to worse after a nearly fatal mistake from two young lovebirds. And then the shit really hits the fan, er, spaceship. Spaceships.
Oh my goodness. Kincaid really knows how to put her characters through the wringer. All I’m going to say is this: if you liked the “stand-alone” first book and don’t like to see things crumble into dust—stick with the first book and enjoy your rainbows and unicorns. If you want dirty politics, addiction, love at any cost, horrible decisions, nonstop action and MORE Hazard and Anguish—pick this up. NOW.
I’m not going to talk a whole lot about this one, because #spoilers, but I will give three reasons on why you should check out this trilogy:
1. It takes a contemplative look on what makes humanity human
2. It has characters and plotlines that are just as amorally gray and hopelessly twisted as The Folk of the Air trilogy
3. Solid. Fucking. Sci. Fi.
4. Bonus! It takes a lot of YA tropes and has fun with them 🙂
Anywho, despite a beginning that was heavily in the YA mode of the third book in a series, as in, heroine recovering/hiding from what has happened in the previous several books, it recovers and Nemesis got to be as diabolical and heroic as she needed to be. Truths were learned about the empire. Tyrus was a monster. Nemesis had her heart wrung out. Side characters got their due. Rebellions were fought. Battles won. And black holes were…there.
As to the final plot twist. Tyrus had a dark descent into megalomania and madness, and there were so many, many parallels to the Trump administration that I was just reeling from the implications. There were not-so-subtle hints of Rome before Caligula and Nero, and the dancing of the elite upon the graves of the exploited, that I was like oh wow yeah she really went here.
And then the final twist, and I was mildly disappointed because it was very YA typical and annoying. Just let people be bad, dammit.