“The Diabolic” by S.J. Kincaid (2016) Review

S.J. Kincaid’s The Diabolic was the science fiction book I needed to get me back into the swing of things. I thought I’d been lucky to never come across an unsatisfying YA but I recently discovered that I now had. In frustration, I put that book back on my shelf and picked up The Diabolic. Before I knew it, I was back in the game; the book reading game that was.

The Diabolic was the first novel I had read by S.J. Kincaid and I’m glad I managed to get my hands on it. If there’s one thing about me, it’s that I love a series. I find it difficult to get to know characters and their world just to say goodbye to them after 400 pages. At the time, I wasn’t sure whether The Diabolic was a series but the blurb attracted me enough to it. Now that I’ve completed the first novel, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one.

The Diabolic is a science fiction YA that is set in a world where humans have their own Diabolics, ruthless and brutal beings that are engineered to do anything to protect the one that they’ve been assigned to. Nemesis is the protagonist and has been assigned to Sidonia, a Senator’s daughter. Their relationship is as much professional as it is personal and although it takes time for Nemesis to acknowledge her capacity for emotional connections, Sidonia has always seen the sisterly bond they share. When Sidonia’s life is in peril, Nemesis must become Sidonia and realize that perhaps the only thing that can save her, is finding the one thing she’s been denied, her own humanity.

Although it took a little bit for me to get in the story, it wasn’t long before Nemesis joined the ranks of my favourite female characters. Her constant pull between doing what she was made to do and doing things on her own accord was rather fascinating and delved into the questions of humanity and what makes us human. Saying this, The Diabolic isn’t a novel that forces its readers into believing that the only way for Nemesis to succeed is for her to sacrifice what she is. It instead helps her recognize and accept her own version of humanity.

The Diabolic has its far share of supporting characters but only a few stand out against the idea of being mere plot devices. It frustrates me to say this because it seems like a frivolous thing to focus on (not everyone can be the protagonist or be closely involved with the protagonist) but I couldn’t help feeling as though I could’ve gotten to know some of the characters more, both the good and bad. Saying this, when you get a protagonist like Nemesis who is telling her story in first person, you soon realize that she’s not one to socialize often or is even bothered to do so based off her personality.

I highly recommend The Diabolic to any science fiction junkie such as myself. It may be fitting to the YA genre (which in turn could frustrate some readers) but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.