The Diabolic

The Diabolic

by S. J. Kincaid


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“The perfect kind of high-pressure adventure.” —
A New York Times bestseller!

Red Queen meets The Hunger Games in this epic novel about what happens when a senator’s daughter is summoned to the galactic court as a hostage, but she’s really the galaxy’s most dangerous weapon in disguise.

A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.

Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.

When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.

As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780594692119
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date: 11/01/2016
Series: Diabolic Series
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 652,461
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

S.J. Kincaid is the New York Times bestselling author of The Diabolic. She originally wanted to be an astronaut, but a dearth of mathematical skills made her turn her interest to science fiction instead. Her debut novel, Insignia, was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. Its sequels, Vortex and Catalyst, have received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Booklist. She’s chronically restless and has lived in California, Alabama, New Hampshire, Oregon, Illinois, and Scotland with no signs of staying in one place anytime soon.

Read an Excerpt

The Diabolic

  • 1

    SIDONIA had made a dangerous mistake.

    She was carving a statue out of a great stone slab. There was something mesmerizing about the swiping and flashing of her laser blade, bright against the dark window overlooking the starscape. She never aimed the blade where I expected, but somehow she always produced an image in the stone that my own imagination could never have conjured. Today it was a star gone supernova, a scene from Helionic history depicted vividly in rock.

    Yet one swipe of her blade had extracted too large a chunk from the base of the sculpture. I saw it at once and jumped to my feet, alarm prickling through me. The structure was no longer stable. At any moment, that entire statue was going to come crashing down.

    Donia knelt to study the visual effect she’d created. Oblivious to the danger.

    I approached quietly. I didn’t want to warn her—it might startle her into jerking or jumping, and cutting herself with the laser. Better to rectify the situation myself. My steps drew me across the room. Just as I reached her, the first creak sounded, fragments of dust raining down from above her as the statue tilted forward.

    I seized Donia and whipped her out of the way. A great crashing exploded in our ears, dust choking the stale air of the art chamber.

    I wrested the laser blade from Donia’s hand and switched it off.

    She pulled free, rubbing at her eyes. “Oh no! I didn’t see that coming.” Dismay slackened her face as she looked over the wreckage. “I’ve ruined it, haven’t I?”

    “Forget the statue,” I said. “Are you hurt?”

    She glumly waved off my question. “I can’t believe I did that. It was going so well. . . .” With one slippered foot, she kicked at a chunk of broken stone, then sighed and glanced at me. “Did I say thanks? I didn’t. Thanks, Nemesis.”

    Her thanks did not interest me. It was her safety that mattered. I was her Diabolic. Only people craved praise.

    Diabolics weren’t people.

    We looked like people, to be sure. We had the DNA of people, but we were something else: creatures fashioned to be utterly ruthless and totally loyal to a single individual. We would gladly kill for that person, and only for them. That’s why the elite imperial families eagerly snatched us up to serve as lifelong bodyguards for themselves and their children, and to be the bane of their enemies.

    But lately, it seemed, Diabolics were doing their jobs far too well. Donia often tapped into the Senate feed to watch her father at work. In recent weeks, the Imperial Senate had begun debating the “Diabolic Menace.” Senators discussed Diabolics gone rogue, killing enemies of their masters over small slights, even murdering family members of the child they were assigned to protect to advance that child’s interests. We were proving more of a threat to some families than an asset.

    I knew the Senate must have come to a decision about us, because this morning, the Matriarch had delivered a missive to her daughter—one directly from the Emperor. Donia had taken a single look at it and then thrown herself into carving.

    I’d lived with her for nearly eight years. We’d virtually grown up side by side. She only grew silent and distracted like this when worried about me.

    “What was in the missive, Donia?”

    She fingered a slab of the broken statue. “Nemesis . . . they banned Diabolics. Retroactively.”

    Retroactively. That meant current Diabolics. Like me.

    “So the Emperor expects you to dispose of me.”

    Donia shook her head. “I won’t do it, Nemesis.”

    Of course she wouldn’t. And then she’d be punished for it. An edge crept into my voice. “If you can’t bring yourself to be rid of me, then I’ll take the matter into my own hands.”

    “I said I won’t do it, Nemesis, and neither will you!” Her eyes flashed. She raised her chin. “I’ll find another way.”

    Sidonia had always been meek and shy, but it was a deceptive appearance. I’d long ago learned there was an undercurrent of steel within her.

    Her father, Senator von Impyrean, proved a help. He nursed a powerful animosity toward the Emperor, Randevald von Domitrian.

    When Sidonia pleaded for my life, a glimmer of defiance stole into the Senator’s eyes. “The Emperor demands her death, does he? Well, rest easy, my darling. You needn’t lose your Diabolic. I’ll tell the Emperor the death has been carried out, and that will be the end of the matter.”

    The Senator was mistaken.

    Like most of the powerful, the Impyreans preferred to live in isolation and socialize only in virtual spaces. The nearest Excess—those free humans scattered on planets—were systems away from Senator von Impyrean and his family. He wielded his authority over the Excess from a strategic remove. The family fortress orbited an uninhabited gas giant ringed by lifeless moons.

    So we were all startled weeks later when a starship arrived out of the depths of space—unannounced, unheralded. It had been dispatched by the Emperor under the pretext of “inspecting” the body of the Diabolic, but it was no mere inspector onboard.

    It was an Inquisitor.

    Senator von Impyrean had underestimated the Emperor’s hostility toward the Impyrean family. My existence gave the Emperor an excuse to put one of his own agents in the Impyrean fortress. Inquisitors were a special breed of vicar, trained to confront the worst heathens and enforce the edicts of the Helionic religion, often with violence.

    The Inquisitor’s very arrival should have terrified the Senator into obedience, but Sidonia’s father still circumvented the will of the Emperor.

    The Inquisitor had come to see a body, so a body he was shown.

    It simply wasn’t mine.

    One of the Impyreans’ Servitors had been suffering from solar sickness. Like Diabolics, Servitors had been genetically engineered for service. Unlike us, they didn’t need the capacity to make decisions, so they hadn’t been engineered to have it. The Senator took me to the ailing Servitor’s bedside and gave me the dagger. “Do what you do best, Diabolic.”

    I was grateful he’d sent Sidonia to her chambers. I wouldn’t want her to see this. I sank the dagger under the Servitor’s rib cage. She didn’t flinch, didn’t try to flee. She gazed at me through blank, empty eyes, and then a moment later she was dead.

    Only then was the Inquisitor allowed to dock with the fortress. He made a cursory inspection of the body, pausing over it merely to note, “How odd. She appears . . . freshly dead.”

    The Senator stood bristling at his shoulder. “The Diabolic has been dying of solar sickness for several weeks now. We’d just decided to end her suffering when you arrived in the system.”

    “Contrary to what your missive said,” the Inquisitor stated, swinging on him. “You claimed the death had already been carried out. Now that I see her, I wonder at her size. She’s rather small for a Diabolic.”

    “Now you question the body, too?” roared the Senator. “I tell you, she was wasting away for weeks.”

    I watched the Inquisitor from the corner. I wore a new Servitor’s gown, my size and musculature hidden beneath voluminous folds. If he saw through the ruse, then I would kill him.

    I hoped it wouldn’t come to that. Concealing an Inquisitor’s death might prove . . . complicated.

    “Perhaps if your family was more respectful of the Living Cosmos,” the Inquisitor remarked, “your household would have been spared a ghastly affliction like solar sickness.”

    The Senator ripped in an angry breath to reply, but at that moment the Matriarch darted forward from where she’d been lurking in the doorway. She seized her husband’s arm, forestalling him.

    “How right you are, Inquisitor! We are immensely grateful for your insight.” Her smile was gracious, for the Matriarch didn’t share her husband’s eagerness to defy the Emperor.

    She’d felt imperial wrath firsthand at a young age. Her own family had displeased the Emperor, and her mother had paid the price. Now she appeared electric with anxiety, her body quivering with eagerness to placate their guest.

    “I’d be ever so pleased if you’d observe our services tonight, Inquisitor. Perhaps you can note what we are doing wrong.” Her tone dripped with sweetness, the sort that sounded odd in her usual acrid voice.

    “I would be glad to do so, Grandeé von Impyrean,” replied the Inquisitor, now gracious. He reached out to draw her knuckles to his cheek.

    She pulled away. “I’ll go make the arrangements with our Servitors. I’ll take this one now. You—come.” She jerked her head for me to accompany her.

    I didn’t want to leave the Inquisitor. I wanted to watch his every movement, observe his every expression, but the Matriarch had left me no choice but to follow her as a Servitor would. Our steps brought us out of the chamber, far from the Inquisitor’s sight. The Matriarch picked up her pace, and I did as well. We wound together down the corridor toward the Senator’s chambers.

    “Madness,” she muttered. “It’s madness to take this risk right now! You should be lying dead before that Inquisitor, not walking here at my side!”

    I cast her a long, considering look. I’d gladly die for Donia, but if it came to my life or the Matriarch’s, I’d put myself first. “Do you intend to tell the Inquisitor what I am?”

    Even as I spoke, I visualized the blow I’d use to kill her. A single strike to the back of the head. . . . No need to risk her screaming. Donia might emerge from her chambers if she heard anything. I’d hate to murder her mother in front of her.

    The Matriarch had the survival instinct her husband and daughter lacked. Even my mild tone sent terror skittering across her face. The next moment it vanished so swiftly that I wondered whether I’d imagined it. “Of course not. The truth would condemn us all now.”

    So she would live. My muscles relaxed.

    “If you’re here,” she said darkly, “then you’ll make yourself useful to us. You’ll help me conceal my husband’s work before that Inquisitor inspects his chambers.”

    That I could do. We plunged into the Senator’s study, where the Matriarch hiked up her gown and shuffled through the debris strewn about the room—blasphemous database fragments that would instantly condemn this entire family if the Inquisitor laid eyes on them.

    “Quickly now,” she said, gesturing for me to start swiping them up.

    “I’ll take them to the incinerator—”

    “Don’t.” Her voice was bitter. “My husband will simply use their destruction as an excuse to acquire more. We simply need to clear these from sight for now.” She twisted her fingers in a crack in the wall, and the floor slid open to reveal a hidden compartment.

    Then she settled in the Senator’s chair, fanning herself with her hand as I heaved armful after armful of shattered fragments of what looked like computer debris and data chips into the compartment. The Senator passed days in here, repairing whatever he could salvage, uploading information into his personal database. He avidly read the materials and often discussed them with Sidonia. Those scientific theories, those technological blueprints. All blasphemous. All insults against the Living Cosmos.

    I stashed the Senator’s personal computer in with the debris, and then the Matriarch crossed to the wall again and twisted her finger in the nook. The floor slid closed. I heaved the Senator’s desk over so it covered the hidden compartment.

    I straightened again to find the Matriarch watching me narrowly. “You would have killed me back in the hallway.” Her glittering eyes challenged me to deny it.

    I didn’t. “You know what I am, madam.”

    “Oh yes, I do.” Her lips twisted. “Monster. I know what goes on behind those cold, soulless eyes of yours. This is exactly why Diabolics have been banned—they protect one and pose a threat to all others. You must never forget that Sidonia needs me. I’m her mother.”

    “And you must never forget that I’m her Diabolic. She needs me more.”

    “You cannot possibly fathom what a mother means to a child.”

    No. I couldn’t. I’d never had one. All I knew was that Sidonia was safer with me than with anyone else in this universe. Even her own kin.

    The Matriach loosed an unpleasant laugh. “Ah, but why even debate you on this? You could no more understand family than a dog could compose poetry. No, what matters is, you and I share a cause. Sidonia is kindhearted and naive. Outside this fortress, in the wider Empire . . . perhaps a creature like you will be the very thing my daughter requires to survive. But you will never—never—speak to anyone of what we’ve done today.”


    “And if anyone seems ready to find out we’ve spared our Diabolic, then you will take care of the problem.”

    The very thought sent a sizzling, protective anger through me. “Without hesitation.”

    “Even if taking care of it”—her eyes were sharp and birdlike—“starts with yourself.”

    I didn’t condescend to answer. Of course I would die for Sidonia. She was my entire universe. I loved nothing but her and valued nothing but her existence. Without her, there was no reason for me to exist.

    Death would be a mercy compared to that.

  • Customer Reviews

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    The Diabolic 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I loved this!
    Anonymous 7 months ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I enjoyed it!
    RJGM More than 1 year ago
    Ughhhhh. This book was AT LEAST 1.5x longer than it needed to be. I'm sad about that, because I really, really wanted to like it. The premise is super interesting, and I want to know more about the world in which it's set. The society's structure is fascinating, the settings are beautiful, and there's so much one could do with the idea of a sub-class of humanoid creatures designed/bred for one purpose and denied humanity. There was SO much potential here, but... Oh my GOD was I bored. So bored. Almost the whole time. I felt zero connection to any of the characters, I cared next to nothing about the plot, and the writing was mediocre at best. Characters: In books, TV shows, and movies, I know things have gotten bad when I'm rooting for a character to die. I'm thinking, thank goodness, one less person to deal with. I didn't care about what happened to any of the characters, and while they were well-rounded and each had their own unique voice (which, points for that, because it is HARD), I just... didn't connect with them. I can't put my finger on why. Plot: Battle between science and religion? Cool, sign me up! Political intrigue and murder plots? Maybe, I'll check it out. Which random member of a crappy family gets to sit on the throne? Hardest of passes. Unfortunately, this book leaned way too hard on the latter two and barely skimmed over the first. I want to hear more about the Hellionic* religion! I want to know more about the disaster that destroyed all knowledge! How did the humans survive the event? How did some books survive it? Why is it so important that knowledge be suppressed? Give me all of these details! I don't care about a cheesy love story and somebody complaining about not knowing what to do with her life and who-plotted-what! The basic conflict, the main thing that, at the beginning, seemed like it would tie the whole story together, was totally forgotten within a few chapters. Writing: I am not one of those writers/reviewers who abhors adverbs in general. They absolutely (ha) have their place, and I think it's silly to "ban" them altogether. However... I see the rationale behind the advice. Once I realized that this book used so many adverbs, I couldn't. stop. hearing. them. I'm not going to pick a specific example from the book, but there were many (many!!!!) times where I mentally substituted a stronger verb instead of the adverb+verb combo that I read. The writing was also sooooo repetitive. There were SO many "sharp glances" and "searching gazes" and "searching faces" and "long moments." SO MANY. I think - for example - that the exact phrase "scorned lover" was used THREE TIMES in ONE PARAGRAPH, with one more use on the following page. Mix it up a little, please! I'm sure this contributed to my overall boredom. This could've easily gotten another star with a little bit stronger writing. Again, I'm disappointed in this book, since I wanted to like it so badly. I bought it based on the description and the cover (...ok, mostly the cover), and it did not live up to my expectations. It's not terrible; just don't go in with sky-high hopes. *forgive any spelling errors; I listened to the audiobook.
    PriPri More than 1 year ago
    First off, let me start by saying I went back and forth between reading and listening. The narrator had a voice that was very easy to listen to, and I could somehow truly picture Nemesis. Second let me say that this book is told in first person, which can be very off-putting, especially if not done well. This was done very well. I don’t want to give too much away, but the story is about Nemesis, who is a Diabolic, or a biologically engineered being. Her sole purpose is to live (or die) to protect Sidonia. When the only way to keep her safe means posing as her at court, Nemesis does so without hesitation. Nemesis has been told for her entire existence that she is a thing. Property. She has no soul, she cannot feel or laugh or love. Sidonia doesn’t believe that and tells Nemesis so, but Nemesis just chalks it up to Sidonia’s affection for her. She has been her only and most loyal friend for most of her life, even if she is considered Sidonia’s possession. Nemesis’ whole world gets turned on its head when she is at court pretending to be the heir of a high senator. And that’s all I’ll say for fear of spoilers. This book is filled with anguish and intrigue and so many feelings. There were a few spots that were triggering for me, but only because of recent incidences in my life. Had I read this book 6-7 months ago, certain scenes would not have been an issue. I’m just mentioning it as my personal issue, I do not believe the book has anything so harsh that others should fear reading it. There were so many ups and downs and plot twists! Some you can almost anticipate, and some just take you completely off guard. I’m very impressed with how the author weaved the plot to lead you in one direction and then take you by surprise. It’s not easy to do these days because everything has been done–in some cases overdone! I am truly looking forward to the sequel!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    customer2 More than 1 year ago
    good book by a talented writer which I cant say for most young adult authors who choose to only give us boring books.
    MissPrint More than 1 year ago
    "Being a good Diabolic meant being a hideous person." Diabolics have only one purpose: protect the person they have been bonded to at all costs. Nemesis barely remembers the time before she was bonded to Sidonia. Anything that came before is irrelevant. Now Nemesis will do whatever is necessary to ensure that Sidonia survives and flourishes. As long as Sidonia is safe and secure everything else, including Nemesis's own well-being, becomes irrelevant. When news of her senator father's heresy reaches the seat of the Empire, Sidonia is summoned to the Imperial Court as a hostage. There is no way for Nemesis to strike against the Emperor. No way for her to shelter Sidonia when she is summoned. This time the only way Nemesis can protect Sidonia is to become her. At the Imperial Court, Nemesis has to hide her superior strength, cunning intellect, and her ruthless lack of humanity. Greedy senators, calculating heirs, and the Emperor's mad nephew Tyrus are all keen to use Nemesis for their own ends. But she has little interest in the politics at Court or the rebellion that is beginning to foment. Nemesis knows that she is not human. She knows the matters of the Imperial Court are not her concern. But she also soon realizes that saving Sidonia may involve saving not just herself but the entire Empire in The Diabolic (2016) by S. J. Kincaid. The Diabolic was written as a standalone sci-fi novel. After its release Kincaid signed a book deal for two additional novels making The Diabolic the start of a trilogy. Kincaid has built a unique world layered with complex alliances and difficult questions about what it means to be human which play out against a galactic power struggle. Nemesis's performative identity as Sidonia contrasts well against the Emperor's son, Tyrus, a Hamlet-like figure who may or may not be putting on an act of his own in a bid for the throne. Nemesis's character growth as she learns to choose herself beyond any loyalty she feels to Sidonia or others is fascinating and thoughtfully done. The Diabolic is a sprawling space opera that brings Nemesis and other characters across the galaxy in a story filled with double crosses, twists, and intrigue so thick you could cut it with a knife. Nemesis narrates the novel with a tone that is as pragmatic as it is chilling--unsurprising for a character who has been told constantly throughout her life that she will never be human. Whether Nemesis will prove her detractors correct or exceed her supposed Diabolic limitations remains to be seen. The combination of ambiguous morality, lavish settings, and a cast of provocative characters make The Diabolic an utterly satisfying sci-fi adventure. Highly recommended. Possible Pairings: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, Proxy by Alex London, Legend by Marie Lu, A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix, Birthmarked by Caragh M.O'Brien, For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski, This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab, And I Darken by Kiersten White
    KikiD870 More than 1 year ago
    Diabolic is the first in a new series of the same name by author S.J. Kincaid. The book is science fiction in every sense of the world. It takes place in the distant future that in no way resembles are own. The power structure is an Empire and it is based on a sun religion. The Grandoliloqy are the nobility of the empire and control all of the technology, and thus all of the people, within the empire. The theme of religion and science/technology is key to this story, as is the questioning of what it means to be human. Just as in real life, ideologies differ and cause fracturing. Nemesis, a genetically created girl, has one purpose for her existence... to protect her master, Sidonia. Diabolics are stronger than the average humor and bred to feel no love or loyalty to anyone beyond their master. Her mission puts her into the middle of the growing galactic unease in unexpected ways. Prior to reading this, I saw a lot of complaints about different aspects of the story. One was the seemingly senseless brutality. Yes, there is a lot of brutality. But I didn't find it to be unnecessary. I thought it was very much in keeping with the Diabolic concept. Emotions breed compassion and without it, brutality happens. It was entirely appropriate for the nature of the characters. Another complaint was about Nemesis herself, and her character's emotional journey. She was genetically enhanced to be something more than human, or at least something different. She was bred to be virtually emotionless. As I mentioned earlier, her character explores what it is to be human. I think many people saw her as a genetically different being than human, whereas I saw her as an enhanced human. Love and compassion and empathy are vital human emotions that, given the opportunity, will rise. This is why I loved her changing nature. Overall: I really loved this book. When I got it, I thought it was a standalone, but I am happy that it is going to be a trilogy. Can't wait!
    sheltisebastian More than 1 year ago
    I just know finished The Diabolic! My heart pounded like a freight train so many times while reading this story. I will always love Nemisis, Tyrus, and Donia!
    FayTannerr More than 1 year ago
    I really enjoyed this novel. It was interesting and compelling. The plot and the details from the space ships to the fight scenes were spot on and felt s0 real! I really liked all the science fiction facts and Nemesis. Tyrus and Nemesis were so right for each other and I even enjoyed the loyalty between Nemesis and Sidonia. Filled with action, betrayal and the fight for the throne, this is one novel not to be missed!
    MsArdychan More than 1 year ago
    If someone asked me to describe this book, I would say it's like Game Of Thrones in space. Sounds exciting, right? But that wouldn't even due this book justice. I felt that The Diabolic was such an original piece, with enough twists, turns, and fashion, to keep any reader enthralled. What I Liked: Characters: Nemesis is a Diabolic, a genetically engineered humanoid who is bred to bond to one person and then protect them at all costs. They are the uultimate bodyguards and so the ruling elite all have them. What I loved about Nemesis is how she learns that she is just as human as anyone else. She already understands love, but she doesn't have any knowledge of how to interact with people. Since she has been brainwashed into thinking she is less than human she also doesn't value herself or her feelings. This book was all about how Nemesis regains that basic part of her humanity, and self-worth. Sidonia is the wealthy daughter of a galactic senator. While she is kind and has a fierce love for her Diabolic, Nemesis, she has lead a very sheltered life. She doesn't have much of a survival instinct. So Nemesis is sent to the galactic court in Sidonia's place. Although this was meant to protect her, I felt that this action showed that Sidonia was also under-valued. Both Nemesis and Sidonia had so much to learn about trusting themselves, even in the face of others thinking they can't accomplish something. Galactic Court: I love novels set in a royal court. The political intrigue and power plays are so much fun to read! This book didn't disappoint. Nemesis (and the reader) doesn't know who she can trust throughout the book. This really kept me on my toes trying to figure out what was going to happen. Fashion: I know the whole point of such detailed descriptions of the fashion and hairstyles of the court characters was meant to show how corrupt and decadent the empire's elite had become. But, all the same, it was so fun to read about this! I even made a Pinterest board with clothes and hairstyles that I felt reflected this book. Overall, I loved this book. It was creative, filled with action and characters who I kept having to re-evaluate every so often to keep up with their shifting loyalties.
    Books-With-Maps More than 1 year ago
    Synopsis Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe. When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire. Ok so this was really really enjoyable! It had allll the things that just keep me turning the pages! I loved Nemesis immediately and one of my favorite aspects of the story was her growth. Nemesis is introduced as a child (a thing really) completely unfeeling and ruthless. She is selected to protect a senator’s daughter, and if need be forfeit her life to keep Sidonia safe. Kincaid handles this really well. A character completely devoid of any and all emotion…how they would react, how foreign it would feel, things we take for granted (how to react to someone, how to act in a social situation)…Kincaid paid attention to detail and it felt believable. I loved experiencing that transformation through Nemesis’s perspective…not knowing or understanding emotions, not being able to name or label what your feeling and navigating a world that way and then discovering/learning/acknowledging sparks of connection. Kincaid also didn’t scrimp on the world-building. The world was complex and fully developed. I loved learning about the history, religious systems, mythology, as well as its social structure and political climate. I would have loved a map! The story was interesting and I was fully invested in it! I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. There were some moments of obvious foreshadowing but there were still plenty of plot twists, intrigue, and action! It was recently announced that there will be additional installments and I will definitely be reading them!
    Ambur More than 1 year ago
    I'm a real sucker for any kind of epic story that takes place in space, so as soon as I heard about THE DIABOLIC, I was intrigued! Once I read the description about the Diabolics, Nemesis and Sidonia, I was even more interested! It took me a few chapters to get into THE DIABOLIC because Nemesis is a fairly detached narrator, but once I got into the narrative, then I couldn't put it down! I thought that Nemesis was really intriguing, and I loved learning about the world that S.J. Kindcaid created! From the technology, to the ships, to the intricate religious and class systems, I loved getting to know more about the world within THE DIABOLIC, and I found it all extremely fascinating to read about! While Nemesis wasn't the most affectionate of characters, she really grew on me. She was fierce, and her devotion to Sidonia was compelling, especially because of the way that the Diabolics were "designed." Most of all, I really loved seeing Nemesis's character change as she grew into herself and was able to expand beyond her dedication to protect Sidonia. I really, really loved seeing her develop relationships...especially when a certain member of the Emperor's family comes into the picture. ;) With so much going on, I wasn't sure how everything could be wrapped up in one book, but S.J. managed it! THE DIABOLIC was an interesting mix of dystopia, sci-fi adventure, and dark roman empire with political intrigue all mixed together, and I absolutely loved it! After talking to some of my friends who've also read this one (here's looking at you, Tiff!), I do think THE DIABOLIC is geared more towards readers who already enjoy sci-fi because it really isn't the type of story where you connect closely with the heroine. Nemesis struggles to accept the fact that she actually has feelings, so that does create some detachment within the narrative, but personally, I really loved Nemesis's confusion as she began to feel more and more, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her push herself when it came to her humanity! If you're a fan of sweeping stories with characters who are fierce without any kind of sugar-coating, then I think you'll love THE DIABOLIC...and if you already love sci-fi, then you're going to love this even more! * I received an ARC of THE DIABOLIC from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. * This review also appears on my blog and other social media sites.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    It is easy to make judgments about people based on stereotypes, generalities, and who you think they are after just a few observations. Whether we want to admit it or not, we do it all the time. Sometimes this can be a positive, helping us develop empathy for people we don’t know all that well, but unfortunately it is much easier to do the opposite and jump to negative conclusions, possibly because it protects us from being disappointed by others. Sometimes, though, we end up cheating ourselves out of relationships with good people. We also sometimes allow ourselves to be shoved into other people’s images of us, defining ourselves by what is reflected in their eyes. The young adult science fiction novel The Diabolic by Susan Kincaid shows how important it is that we grow into who we are meant to become rather than allowing others to determine what we are. Nemesis, the main character, is a Diabolic, which means she is a humanoid teenageer who has been genetically and physically engineered to be a bodyguard and companion for Sidonia, the daughter of a galactic senator. It is not supposed to be in her nature to have any emotions other than those that promote her devotion to Sidonia, therefore she is willing to do anything necessary to protect her, whether that means killing someone in cold blood or sacrificing herself. As the story opens, we learn that Diabolics have been outlawed and ordered destroyed, but the family chose to discreetly disobey that command. When the Senator, Sidonia’s father, angers the Emperor and he summons Sidonia to his starship as a consequence of that, they fear for her life and decide to disguise Nemesis and instead send her as an imposter. As a Diabolic, Nemesis is not expected to care for anyone other than the one to whom she is bonded, but as she travels through deep space and arrives at the Emperor’s starship, she slowly begins to emerge as a person in her own right-- one with feelings, morals, and desires that are surprisingly human. She experiences situation after situation that push her to grow, explore, and sometimes become increasingly uncomfortable with her newly developing self-image. It is somewhat ironic that a creature designed to be physically dominating and emotionally almost indestructable is in the end actually just the opposite. This very human side of her personality becomes pivotal as the book reaches its climax and conclusion. Nemesis was put into a tough place. She essentially lost the person who was her very reason for living, had multiple layers of social norms to suddenly learn with no assistance while simultaneously attempting to blend in better than a chameleon, and had to decipher layers of intrigue and deceit few humans could successfully navigate. Like almost every human teenage female on Earth, she swung wildly back and forth between self-confidence and self-doubt, selfishness and self-sacrifice. Many times throughout the story, she doubted her worthiness to be where she was, and she constantly second-guessed herself because of the role she was “created” to play vs. how she was actually living life. Even though her situation was far removed from what we would define as normal, her thoughts about emotion and self-image would fit into almost any high school in America. Nemesis may not have technically been fully human, but her emotional experiences are things that can be related to by many different audiences. It is a rare person who never feels self-conscious when int
    onemused More than 1 year ago
    "The Diabolic" is a unique YA dystopian book. In this future, humans have advanced scientifically and technologically, traveling through space and colonizing other planets. Some humans, elevated to nobility, live in constructed shuttles/artificial planets in outer space. The humans living on planets are referred to as Excess and the nobility as the Grandiloquy. Other classes of humans exist, those which have been genetically modified for some purpose and are considered possessions. Servitors are one such class which lack the mental capacity to think for themselves and instead live in service of a family/nobility. Diabolics are another such class which live to protect and assassinate. Diabolics are bonded to one individual and live and die for them. Nemesis is a Diabolic. We begin the story when she is young and purchased by the Impyreans for their daughter, Sidonia (Donia for short). Donia loves Nemesis and treats her as a human being, even though Nemesis does not like the temptation of being anything more than what she is. The empire is ruled by the Domitrians who have always believed that knowledge is the source of unrest and discontent. As such, they do not allow people to learn to read or have any complex schooling. This has led to the disrepair of technology and lack of growth/development of all people. Sidonia's father is someone who believes that people should have knowledge. The Emperor has learned of his treason and sends for Donia to go to the Chrysanthemum, the capitol. The Impyrean Matriarch (Donia's mother) fears that they will take Donia's life as punishment or worse. She devises a plan to send Nemesis to the capitol in Donia's place, posing as her. Donia threatens that if anything happens to Nemesis, she will not live without her. Nemesis goes to the capitol and realizes that it is full of scorpions, ready to pounce on any weaknesses. She finds allies in Tyrus, the Emperor's crazy nephew and heir, and Neveni, a girl who was sent to the Chrysanthemum for her mother's attempts to add education to the Excesses on her planet. In her time away from Donia, she begins to learn more about her own feelings and motives, discovering that she is not just a violent shell of a human-like being as she had been raised to believe. It's a really fascinating story and full of political intrigue. Of note, there should be a content warning about mentions of drugged rape of young people at the Chrysanthemum, which Nemesis prevents from happening any more. However, it is still very disturbing, as is the treatment of humans considered lesser (although this is also a part of human history) and people who are crazy for power. It's a captivating book, and I ended up reading it in less than a day, finding it very difficult to stop reading. Nemesis is a strong character and more human than she realizes at first. I am very curious to see if this will be a series and where it would go. Tyrus and Nemesis are clever and interesting characters. I would like to know more about the history of how humanity got to this point, but I assume this was not known by most characters (due to the moratorium on learning) and thus is why it does not appear here. It's really a fantastic addition to the dystopian class. Please note that I received an ARC from a goodreads giveaway. All opinions are my own.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    So good! Once I started reading, I couldn't stop! I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it. Also, the cover is just beautiful.
    ReadingwithPugs More than 1 year ago
    I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. There is also a review on my Youtube channel- ReadingwithPugs This book is bound to be a huge success among the YA readership. I do not read much YA these days but there are always a few that stand above the rest and this is one of them. This is easily one of my favorite books of 2016. The plot, characters and setting were all equally fantastic. I think my favorite part of this was the writing style. The author was able to write the kind of sci-fi that I enjoy, it was not overly detailed, hard to understand and the romance played a sub plot. Each character was perfectly fleshed out, you knew their role in the story and they stayed true to themselves. I really enjoyed this. It is faced paced and full of situations that will keep you turing the pages to see how the next scenario will play out. It was one of those books that you never really know which direction the story will go just because each player in the story is unreliable and has their own agenda. I absolutely love a story like this and days later I am still thinking of how much I really liked it.
    Reading_With_Cupcakes More than 1 year ago
    S.J. Kincaid happens to be one of my most favorite authors, so you can bet that when I saw there was going to be a blog tour that I jumped at the chance and hoped with everything that I had that I was going to get chosen to participate. Obviously, I did. And I was so excited! But also a little worried. Why was I worried? Well for the blog tour, I was told my part of it would be to write a review. And what if I ended up not liking the book? What if I hyped it up too much in my own mind that there was no way that it was going to live up to my standards? So many "what ifs"... So I sat down and started to read it. And I kept reading. I didn't want to stop! All my "what ifs" were totally pointless! Thank goodness! S.J. Kincaid managed to live up to my expectations once again! True to S.J. Kincaid's typical genre of choice, we have another science fiction novel. It is set in the future, out in outer space. The whole thing is actually pretty cool and really well thought out. The world we are dealing with in The Diabolic almost seems as though it has taken a step backwards. At one point in time everyone was into science and technology, but then something happened and it made a lot of people believe more in a religion than the science. So they stopped working on improving science and technology. They only used what they already had. This means things break down and get worn out and can't get fixed. Kind of a serious problem when you are up in outer space living in giant space ship like things that are old and falling apart. But the big guy in charge doesn't care. He doesn't want people to work on science and technology any more and will do very evil things to them if they try. Then there is Nemesis. She is a Diabolic. She has been created and genetically engineered to be a protector. She is programmed to keep one person safe at all costs. She is not a human. She has no soul. And Nemesis finds herself mixed up in all this and in a very dangerous situation. OMG. SO FREAKING GOOD. Really! I loved the whole thing. Everything was just so great. I loved the character development and all of the relationships. I loved the world and the way that it was built up. I loved the whole concept behind the book. Ugh. I just loved it ok? I should also let you know that there are some triggers in this book! If you want to know know more about the triggers please feel free to contact me :) What I don't love? Is that it is a stand alone. That is right. S.J. Kincaid is NOT going to write more books about these characters. It is done. Complete. Over. I don't have to be happy about it, but it is her decision so I will just have to deal with it. Do yourself a favor - get this book and read it immediately! This review is based on an ARC provided by the author/publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone. Find more of my reviews here:
    TheThoughtSpot More than 1 year ago
    "Received an advance reader copy for a fair review." Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid. Diabolics are created to physically resemble people, but are meant to perform as bodyguards. The thoughts of the diabolic are simple and it's this simple point of view throughout the book. Sidonia's diabolic (Nemesis) wants to protect her above all else, including the diabolic's own life. I didn't like the part when a servitor was given instructions to slice off her own skin and then she did without reluctance. I would have thought she would have resisted a little. The science fiction story grows more complex throughout the book. Nemesis has to pose as Sidonia for the Emperor because he's seeking vengeance on Sidonia's family. Nemesis' life becomes increasingly complicated because she has to change her appearance, learn new etiquette and she meets many new people. She finally begins to feel human. My rating for this clever science fiction book, 3.5 stars.
    Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
    ***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Publication Date: November 1, 2016 Rating: 4 stars Source: ARC sent by the publisher Summary (from Goodreads): A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for. Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe. When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire. What I Liked: I definitely see what all the fuss is about. I knew this was a highly publicized book, with a lot of media and publicity attention in the YA book world. And I understand why - this book was awesome. I didn't know much about it before reading it (this is peer pressure at its finest), but I do not regret going in blind. Nemesis is a Diabolic, an engineering being that looks like a human, but is ruthless and trained to be deadly, predatory, and strong. At a young age, she is bonded (a chemical bond done by linking the brains) to the young daughter and heir of a galactic senator. Years later, Sidonia is summoned to Galactic court, but Nemesis goes in her place, because it is almost certain that the Emperor wants to hurt Sidonia's family through Sidonia. Nemesis goes to the Galactic Court, and discovers that many of the heirs of senators and other nobles have been called. Nemesis must be careful of these heirs, as well as the Emperor himself - but more importantly, the three Diabolics of the Emperor who might discover who (and what) she is. As the Galactic Empire starts to crumble, Nemesis starts to feel more and more, and she realizes that perhaps there is humanity in her. But at what cost? This is not Red Queen. This is not The Hunger Games. I've read many YA space opera novels, many YA science fiction novels, but I think this one is rather unique. It's not just the concept of a Diabolic, or the Diabolic herself being the protagonist. Everything about this story seemed fresh, unique. This book was incredible, intriguing, and sometimes nail-biting. It was everything I wanted in a space opera/science fiction novel, and then some! I connected with Nemesis almost immediately, despite the gruesome and heartbreaking opening scene. I really felt for her, and wanted to hug her or something. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
    tpolen More than 1 year ago
    I liked this book for several reasons. It's a brash blend of sci-fi and dystopian, it brings some uniqueness to the YA table, and in a sea of duologies, trilogies, and more, it's a standalone. The world-building is fantastic and Nemesis has an intriguing character arc. Nemesis on page one is a completely different character from what she becomes at the end, and seeing her discover there's more to her than protecting and killing is interesting - but realizing she can't unlearn some of those instincts made her story more complex. But for me, Tyrus is easily the most compelling character and full of surprises and although this is told from Nemesis's POV, I would have loved to spend some time in Tyrus's head. With so much going on - political maneuvering, backstabbing, romance, action, and several twists, I could easily have finished this book in a couple of days if real life hadn't intruded. Yes - this is a standalone; however, this series could easily continue and I wouldn't mind seeing where it goes from here. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for an ARC.