I can’t remember where I first came across The Diabolic, by S.J. Kincaid. I suspect it was via some BookTube channel or other, but I can’t quite remember which one. Regardless, I bought it during a recent, giant book haul and actually read it in a timely manner (perish the thought). Whilst it’s not a perfect book, The Diabolic is an interesting and unique take on murdery, articial intelligence in space.
Plot summary for The Diabolic:
Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. There’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.
She must become her.
Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have – humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire…
Star Rating for The Diabolic: * * * * (four stars)
That’s such a wonderful premise. Artificially intelligent humanoid must attempt to pass as flesh and blood nobility… in space. How great does that sound!?
It was this concept that hooked me in, and it didn’t disappoint. Nemesis and her necessary deception form the focal point of the novel and I enjoyed watching her attempt to figure out how Sidona would have acted, and to make polite chitchat when really she could have just stabbed them all. She’s damn well aware that she could, too. Nemesis has a sort of Murder-bot feel to her sometimes – a bit of eyeroll at why she hasn’t just killed everyone. That said, at the same time there’s a definite personality there. She has her own hopes and dreams, and after a while she realises that they’re not entirely pinned on keeping Sidonia safe…
For me, The Diabolic waned slightly roughly two thirds of the way through. The focus is diverted somewhat to the obligatory revolt of the lower classes – you know, the same one that forms the background of pretty much every other YA fantasy/dystopian. Unfortunately I happened to put the book down around this time and it took me a few days to decide to pick it up again. It was a bit jarring given the original, action-packed, interesting first half… to be shoved into a really generic rebellion.
However, the story got back on track fairly sharpish, and we’re back to the Diabolic and the reason we picked the book up in the first place. There are a couple of twists… that then twist back…and then back again! It’s definitely not wise to take anything as truth with The Diabolic and I love that. A couple of plot points were fairly obvious, but then others definitely were not. Honestly, the plot is so interesting and just the right level of complex, that it’s a fairly perfect balance (revolution aside).
The ending is suitably climactic and I did appreciate that whilst The Diabolic is the first book in a series (the second is called The Empress and is already released), it does have a resolute completion with no cheap cliffhangers.
In short, whilst The Diabolic has its flaws, it has a unique concept, an action-packed lot and a likeable main character (despite her general murdery-ness). I’ll definitely be picking up The Empress as soon as it arrives.