My rating: 4 of 5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased ebook
Publication Date: November 2016
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Point of View: 1st Person Heroine
Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure
Continuing Sci-Fi August with yet another fantastic read! I didn't know much about The Diabolic going into. I mean, I read the basic premise and kind of thought it sounded silly. But I thought I'd give it a try, if nothing else because the cover is super cool.
And boy, am I glad I did!
WHAT I LOVED
Once I finished the book, I saw the author's note about being inspired by the book, I, Claudius. And all of a sudden, everything about The Diabolic made so much sense to me! She projected history far into the future, and it was just brilliant. THAT'S why the situations felt so authentic and believable, even with the extreme sci-fi setting. THAT'S why stakes felt so real, so vivid! S.J. Kincaid hit on a brilliant idea--a YA re-imagining of I, Claudius--and pulled it off beautifully.
This was a smart, sophisticated sci-fi, YA or otherwise. The character of Nemesis was fully formed and fascinating. She unfolds slowly, however, so readers have to be patient. It's easy at first to think she's one-dimensional--even though that kind of one-dimensionality makes absolute sense in the context of the story. Nemesis is a man-made creation, her brain programed for devotion to one person and one person only. So yeah, one-dimensional.
But there's much more too her than that. And the drama of watching her slowly discovering her true self is fascinating to watch.
The other characters were distinctive and interesting, everyone fleshed out just enough for the the role that they played. The character of Cygna, the grandmother, was particularly compelling, with all of her subtle manipulations and singularity of focus. (And there was one awesome twist regarding her at the end that . . . whoa. I didn't see it coming. Great writing, great mometn!)
The adventure was high, but this wasn't a super fast-paced book. It didn't have to be in order to hold your interest. The moments of action were great, but the moments of intrigue were equally great. It was all well-balanced and just a lot of fun to read.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE SO MUCH
I won't lie, there's a twist toward the end where Nemesis starts to make assumptions about the hero, Tyrus, that just frustrated me. I mean, it made sense, I guess, according to her programming and her beliefs about herself. But . . . it was so frustrating and felt a little too much like drama was being thrown in for the sake of drama itself, not because it actually benefited the story or worked for the characters.
I don't want to say too much for fear of spoilers. And I really don't want to critique this book, because I truly loved it and will probably read it again. But that moment near the end definitely saw my overall interest and enthusiasm waning. Which is the only reason why I ended up docking this book from a blazing five star read to a blazing four star read. Still blazing . . . still awesome . . . but not, "Oh, my gosh, it's too perfect for words!!!"
Anyway, that's three sci-fi reads in a row that have been nothing short of fantastic! I'm diving into The Daragh Deception next, but it does seem like a bit of a let-down after these last three. Just a little too cute and not enough substance. But we'll see, it might still surprise me!