The thrilling sequel to S.J. Kincaid’s New York Times bestselling novel, The Diabolic that TeenVogue.com called “the perfect kind of high-pressure adventure.”
It’s a new day in the Empire. Tyrus has ascended to the throne with Nemesis by his side and now they can find a new way forward—one where they don’t have to hide or scheme or kill. One where creatures like Nemesis will be given worth and recognition, where science and information can be shared with everyone and not just the elite.
But having power isn’t the same thing as keeping it, and change isn’t always welcome. The ruling class, the Grandiloquy, has held control over planets and systems for centuries—and they are plotting to stop this teenage Emperor and Nemesis, who is considered nothing more than a creature and certainly not worthy of being Empress.
Nemesis will protect Tyrus at any cost. He is the love of her life, and they are partners in this new beginning. But she cannot protect him by being the killing machine she once was. She will have to prove the humanity that she’s found inside herself to the whole Empire—or she and Tyrus may lose more than just the throne. But if proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must do inhuman things, is the fight worth the cost of winning it?
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
SOMEONE had poisoned me. I knew it with a single sip.
That someone was about to die.
I glanced around the crowded presence chamber, hoping to spot the doomed idiot who thought to poison a Diabolic. This was hardly the first attempt on my life in the harried days since Tyrus’s coronation. There’d been the young Grande Austerlitz, who tried to stab me in a surprise attack. I’d been bemused enough to tolerate his clumsy slashes for a few moments.
It seemed wise to be diplomatic, so I gave him a chance. “Stop this at once,” I told him, dodging his next slash, his next.
He just bared his teeth and dove at me. I sidestepped him and hooked his ankle in mine to flip his legs out from under him. He screamed out as he tried to launch himself back to his feet—so I delivered a kick to his head that broke his skull open.
Days passed before the next attempt. This one had been a fanatical junior vicar. She gave away her intentions with the shout of, “Abomination!” just before she tried to pull me into the air lock with her.
I tore from her grip and batted her away, knocking her into the air-lock shaft. The blast doors sealed closed behind her—clearly some automated timer she’d set up in advance—and I met her eyes in the split second before the door to space popped open behind her and vented her into the darkness.
When criminals were vented to space for execution, the onlookers were supposed to turn their backs and look away. It was a gesture of deliberate disrespect. The condemned were so unworthy, even their deaths wouldn’t be watched.
For this bold woman who’d attacked me, I felt a strange desire to watch her float away. She’d seen the fate of Austerlitz and still mounted a direct attack. This was the least I could do for one of such daring. There were a great many Grandiloquy who loathed me, a great many Helionics who scorned me with every righteous fiber of their being, but few were bold enough to act upon their malice.
Helionics viewed creatures like me as subhumans. The “dan” in our names meant we were beneath them in status, yet now their new Emperor meant to wed me. They would have to kneel to a creature. A Diabolic.
The assassination attempts weren’t a surprise to me; the infrequency of the attempts was. A mere three attempts on my life in ten days? It was actually somewhat disappointing.
I welcomed the familiarity of feeling in danger. It tightened my focus, made my heart pick up a beat. My gaze swept the crowd as I drew the goblet to my lips, because surely my would-be assassin was fool enough to watch me drink this poison.
Yet I realized in moments that too many eyes were fixed on me to guess which pair might belong to my poisoner. I should have realized it at once. After all, everywhere I went now, I was watched, I was scrutinized, I invited discussion and opinion.
“Do they ever tire of staring?” I’d wondered the first night after the coronation, when I’d noticed the unnatural degree of scrutiny.
“This is just life as a Domitrian,” Tyrus told me.
So my assassin . . . There were too many candidates. The crowd for the Day of Pardon was simply too thick, and there was no guessing who’d meant to end my life. Too many of these people watching me probably wished to do it.
Then a familiar pair of pale eyes met mine, and Tyrus inclined his head toward the exit, telling me silently that we needed to part ways with this company of Grandiloquy. It was time for the ceremony, which we would spend with the Excess.
I dipped my head in acknowledgment. The Day of Pardon would be held in the Great Heliosphere. It was an important imperial holiday, one of the few aimed at pleasing the Excess, who lived on planets, rather than the ruling Grandiloquy space dwellers.
On this day, Tyrus would enjoy the Emperor’s privilege of commuting the prison sentences of several Excess who’d converted to the Helionic faith. I aimed for the exit, knowing Tyrus would meet me there. Then my steps stilled as I passed a cluster of revelers gathered before Tyrus’s cousin and her husband.
I always took note of those who flocked to the Successor Primus, Devineé. She was Tyrus’s last immediate relative and consequently heir to his throne. In my eyes, she was the greatest threat he faced. I’d damaged her mind beyond healing, so she couldn’t plot on her own behalf, but others could use her as a puppet. Had it been up to me, she’d be dead already. It was Tyrus’s decision, though. She was the last of his family, and I’d disabled her. He’d view her murder as monstrous.
And then . . .
Then the realization crawled into my mind: there was a weapon of murder in my hand that could not be blamed on me or traced back to me.
I made up my mind. I walked over to my intended’s sole living relative. As my shadow slid over her, her foggy gaze rose to mine.
“Hello, Your Eminence. Are you enjoying the festivities?” I said pleasantly, looming above her.
Devineé blinked up at me dully, unable to comprehend me. I set down my goblet seemingly offhandedly, just beside hers. I made a show of unwinding my elaborate twist of currently chestnut brown hair, then arranging it anew (unnecessary with the hair stilts that arranged my locks in any style, but many women fussed over hair anyway).
“Fine conversation,” I said to Devineé. “We must speak again.”
Then I plucked up her goblet, leaving mine behind. And so quickly, so easily, it was done. I headed out to meet Tyrus for the ceremony, hoping that by the time it concluded, we’d hear news of it: confirmation of the death of his deadliest foe.
• • •
“You look beautiful,” Tyrus murmured to me as we neared the heliosphere.
“I know,” I said.
We were both wearing reflective garments of silver, interwoven with veins of liquid crystal. Though I’d gone with auburn hair and a darker skin tone, Tyrus looked the same as always, pale and lightly freckled, with clever pale eyes and light, sharply angled eyebrows crowned with tousled red hair.
Just outside the Great Heliosphere, I hesitated. It wasn’t like me to be nervous, and I wasn’t, per se. . . . But I just knew I was about to commit an obscenity, marching into the Great Heliosphere and taking an honored place during the ceremony.
Tyrus guessed the turn of my thoughts. He leaned in closer to me, dropping his voice. “There will be no issue with zealots today. We’re not broadcasting this live, so we can edit any incidents out of the transmission. We’ve also borrowed a vicar. This is a holiday for the Excess, so they comprise the audience. They will be more favorably disposed toward us.”
He meant toward me.
Of course he did. Tyrus had been careful with every move of his reign so far, since he was the sort to think ten steps ahead before making a single one. I’d been eased slowly into public life over the last weeks.
First the galaxy was transmitted glimpses of me from the dramatic scene at the coronation, when Tyrus declared his love for me and embraced me before all, consigning his grandmother to death in my place. My prisoner’s garb had been modified in the transmission to a lovely, tasteful set of rags, and my unpigmented hair to a mane of effervescent gold. I looked a lost princess from a tale, not a Diabolic.
The transmission was effective in one respect: Cygna had received all the blame—rightfully—for the late Emperor Randevald’s death.
The galaxy received just that glimpse of me, enough to set the Excess on their planets across the empire wondering who I could be, wondering what story lay behind my appearance in public life. Tyrus believed the best way to strip a secret of its power was to glare a shining light on it from the angle of choice, to exhibit it fearlessly rather than seek to hide it. He followed up on that first glimpse by introducing me as his future Empress—and a Diabolic—at his first Convocation.
Thousands gathered in person on the Valor Novus, the central starship of the Chrysanthemum, and avatars from light-years away appeared to fill the rest of the seats in the Grand Sanctum. It was the greatest chamber on the vessel and only used on such occasions as the first time a new Emperor addressed the powerful of his realm.
Tyrus planted the question about me with one of his allies, and then gave his prepared answer: “My fiancée will be a symbol of the new era we begin here today. Her name is Nemesis dan Impyrean. Some will be scandalized that I have no intention of wedding a member of this Empire’s elite. I say, let them be scandalized, for I love Nemesis above any other. She is the most honest, courageous, and worthy candidate I can imagine as the Empress of this galaxy, and I know you will come to admire her as I have.”
He’d had the sound dampened in certain parts of the chamber in advance, anticipating the stir of voices. Many of the traditional objectors, though, dared do nothing but cheer. Tyrus had taken Helionic prisoners at his coronation. He intended to release them now that the danger of his grandmother was past—provided their relatives in the Senate showed themselves cooperative in this transmission. Thus, those few objections were squelched, whereas sound was amplified from those allies Tyrus could count on to cheer and applaud.
Every major figure in the galactic media of Eurydice received a personal message from Tyrus. He’d greeted each of them, and his words included the “coded language” indicating they were to support me cheerfully in public.
Before more questions could be asked, he forged onward to his lofty hopes about restoring the sciences to tackle the menace of malignant space. This time he selectively muted the Grandiloquy so the cheering of the Excess could be heard. Airing both of his most scandalous intentions at once divided the outrage, as he’d hoped.
Then, on a final note, when cheering swelled at the conclusion of his first Convocation speech, Tyrus reached out, took me by the hand, and drew me to his side to exhibit me at the very finest. Far from my natural, colorless albinism, I appeared hued with brilliant black hair and bronzed skin, stenciled with effervescent glow over the cheekbones, in a gleaming dress of cascading gold sheets.
A beautiful woman, not a Diabolic. That’s how I appeared.
Yet illusion could only get us so far. I knew that in my heart.
Now, here we were at this first real test of whether my public image was being received as Tyrus hoped. With Excess in the audience, they’d hopefully be too amazed to find themselves at this great event to bother dwelling on who—or rather, what—I was.
Tyrus and I stepped into the Great Heliosphere. I was painfully conscious of every single flicker of my lashes, every twitch of my muscles. Now that everyone knew how human I was not, it had become more essential to seem human than ever before.
The crowd within the Great Heliosphere lapsed into silence as we drew into the sacred chamber of diamond and crystal, and then they were dropping to their knees, hands to their hearts in salute to the Emperor.
“Rise,” Tyrus said. He never kept them lingering on their knees as Randevald had been wont to do.
We moved through the parted sea of bodies, and Tyrus glimpsed Astra nu Amador, a nervous young vicar who worked for Senator von Amador.
Tyrus inclined his head in silent thanks to Astra. She returned it with a smile. She was ambitious enough to see that she might become Vicar Primus if she impressed us, replacing Fustian nan Domitrian. Tyrus and Fustian had been at odds since the coronation, when Fustian refused to bless me. Fustian would not have performed this ceremony with me present.
Now, as I raised my eyes to take in our surroundings, the sheer force of the light blasting in through the windows truly registered, though it cast only a faint warmth over my skin. The heliosphere was designed to refract starlight in myriad ways for services. No mirrors were needed to amplify the starlight this close to the red hypergiant star, Hephaestus, for the Ritual of Pardon.
So large, so bright was Hephaestus that the distant, smaller stars of the Cosmos were drowned out against the black. The crowd would have appeared but silhouettes against the great blaze of its light, but for the glowing pigment under their skin that set their features in stark relief. I didn’t recognize any of the faces.
We stood alone in the innermost circle as the Vicar Astra set about placing sacred chalices throughout the chamber.
The Excess prisoners shuffled inside in a silent line. They’d all converted to the Helionic faith in prison, and they were the fortunate dozen due to be pardoned this year as reward for their penitence.
Tyrus’s role in this ceremony was brief. He stepped forward, and the men and women knelt before him, displaying their pitifully bared heads, where they’d shaved away their hair to exhibit their faith. He spoke the short litany of pardon, and then the vicar took it from there.
Astra moved between the converts to aid them in shedding their clothing. Then she led each of the converts by the hands to the window to position them in the glare of the sacred hypergiant. The naked men and women pressed up against the window, spreading their arms, their fingers, soaking light into every square centimeter of their skin.
Tyrus took my arm, nudged me gently, and we stepped back, and back, as the vicar slowly adjusted the optics so more light from the hypergiant could seep into the chamber.
Then the hypergiant’s light grew so bright, it seemed to lance into my pupils. The white skein of starlight scorched my eyes, and my hand flew up instinctively to protect my face. Through the veil over my vision, I heard the rustle of other people raising their hands to do the same. Then heat followed, a great, terrible wave of it that pummeled the air about us, stinging my skin, and I knew it was too much heat.
Something was wrong.
The pardoned men and women scrambled back from the windows, dark silhouettes contorting as their terrible screams knifed the air. The vicar’s garb flared ablaze and the oil chalices spouted columns of heat.
I comprehended several things all at once: flames, hundreds of bodies all about me, and one exit.
This was a death trap.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love this series and am anxiously awaiting the conclusion... I hate the turn it took but can say it has me more on edge!
"The Empress" is an interesting second book in the Diabolic series. Nemesis is a diabolic, which is a genetically modified human, designed to be a bodyguard. She is trying to obtain personhood. Nemesis and Tyrus are planning their marriage and hoping to get the blessing of the religious leader to assuage the worries of the ruling class, the Grandiloquy. As they travel and return, they learn more than they had expected about their history and being. The world-building that was lacking is filled in through this book. I would strongly recommend reading the first and this one close in time- this cannot be read as a stand-alone and not much is recapped. You really need the first to understand what is going on here. In terms of being a second/middle novel, it certainly has that feel. You need the first to appreciate this, and it is really setting up for a third/final book. The plot is not really wrapped up here. The book has a lot of unexpected twists and turns that take the plot into dark territory. The first one also has some dark elements, so this is not really a surprise. However, this book contains addiction, blackmail, torture, and a continuation of the discussion around personhood/slavery. I found myself disliking characters that I previously liked and changing my mind around the main characters many times. New connections and relationships are formed, and I am curious to see how this will evolve in the next book. To keep this relatively vague and prevent including spoilers, I think this installation is pretty good as a middle book. We fill in some of the gaps from the first book, but it cannot be read on its own or without refreshers from the first. The ending is open for the final book, and we will need the third to figure the twists from this book out. The relationship between Nemesis and Tyrus is from Nemesis's point-of-view, and it remains very deep on hers. Nemesis is an interesting character, and she remains a great narrator. I am curious to see how this story will continue to evolve, but I do have some mixed feelings about the twists and turns presented in this sequel.
I received this arc from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The Empress picks up right where The Diabolic left off. Nemesis and Tyrus are slowly learning what it means to be the Emperor and Empress of their galaxy and fighting off political unrest. Religion and science are still at odds with one another, and Tyrus comes to learn that just because he’s Emperor in name, doesn’t mean he has full control, while Nemesis has to come to terms with understanding if caring deeply and protecting one person is worth the lives of countless others. Overall, Kincaid weaves her plot magnificently. A lot happens, but I never felt overwhelmed with all the information or the fast pace. The science and logic of how quickly or slowly time moved depending on gravity and the nearness of a black hole definitely was a lot to take in, but it was done masterfully so that I came away feeling like I understood exactly what happened and why. The romance was also great. The book doesn’t revolve around it, even if Nemesis believes she can really only love one person (the person she’s meant to protect, first being Sidonia and now Tyrus). Her actions aren’t those of a lovesick fool,even if she does make mistakes. Through twists and turns, the reader won’t be able to guess what will happen. I recommend this for libraries that do well with science fiction or fans of Scythe by Neal Shusterman.
The follow up to The Diabolic is shocking. I wanted so much for Nemesis and Tyrus to have their happy ending after all the events in the first book. On paper it should be fine, Tyrus is now Emperor and just needs to consolidate his power whilst convincing those following the religious teachings that his ideas of a future embracing technology for all is a fair one. By his side is Nemesis, reviled by many for her less than completely human genes and if he wants to claim her as his wife and Empress Tyrus needs the blessing of the Vicars within the Living Cosmos. Oh but wait the powerful senators that form the ruling Grandiloquy might just have other ideas and it just so happens that one amongst them has plans to become a puppet master! What leads this second book is the deep abiding love shared by this couple. Yes they are young but two people have never been more in tune with each other so to read of their trials and the depths that they plummet to is actually a painful experience. When it comes to YA stories we are used to strong smart heroines and yes Nemesis is physically strong but it's Tyrus that is the brains of their partnership. Tyrus stays numerous steps ahead of his enemies and yet he has a weakness that can be exploited and it's Nemesis! I won't divulge the plot but it's truly gripping and at times quite harrowing. It made me question if religion is worth killing for and then it brought home that the humanity portrayed here are really fighting for greed, position and power. It's not enlightenment or peace thats desired but status and heaven help any who bring change and yet we readers know that change like death and taxes is inevitable. I read this with hope in my heart but was devastated by the events that transpired. This isn't a feel good read and yet it's an important one. Yes it took me away on a fantastic journey in space but it brings home that life is important and our choices can affect so many others. I'm not a teenager no, far from it but I truly can't wait to discover what happens next and thoroughly recommend this book and indeed this trilogy This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** The Empress by S.J. Kincaid Book Two of The Diabolic series Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Publication Date: October 31, 2017 Rating: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Source: Review copy sent by the publisher Summary (from Goodreads): It’s a new day in the Empire. Tyrus has ascended to the throne with Nemesis by his side and now they can find a new way forward—one where they don’t have to hide or scheme or kill. One where creatures like Nemesis will be given worth and recognition, where science and information can be shared with everyone and not just the elite. But having power isn’t the same thing as keeping it, and change isn’t always welcome. The ruling class, the Grandiloquy, has held control over planets and systems for centuries—and they are plotting to stop this teenage Emperor and Nemesis, who is considered nothing more than a creature and certainly not worthy of being Empress. Nemesis will protect Tyrus at any cost. He is the love of her life, and they are partners in this new beginning. But she cannot protect him by being the killing machine she once was. She will have to prove the humanity that she’s found inside herself to the whole Empire—or she and Tyrus may lose more than just the throne. But if proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must do inhuman things, is the fight worth the cost of winning it? What I Liked: I. Am. Slain. Vanquished. Defeated. Here lies Alyssa, perished by the hand of S.J. Kincaid due to a particular emotion-evoking book written by said vanquisher. I don't even know how to process what I've just read. I was going along, reading the book very gamely, getting a little more anxious as it went, and then BAM! The ending. I am shooketh. (Is that what the young people say these days? I'm 22. I should know these things. I don't.) The Empress picks up after The Diabolic left off, with Tyrus ascending the throne as Emperor, and Nemesis by his side. Many are opposed to their upcoming union, but it hasn't stopped them from making appearances together. But being in love might not be enough in the world of politics. One Senator in particular wants to manipulate and maneuver his way up, and Tyrus and Nemesis must figure out a way to stop him without outright killing him. They will fight for each other and die for each other, and this may be their downfall. All Nemesis ever wanted was to be seen as human, and to be happy with Tyrus. But the fate of the galaxy is so much bigger than her and Tyrus's love for each other. Sacrifices must be made, morals must be cast aside, and lines must be drawn. This sequel is sure to bring readers to the edge of their seats and desperate for more. Well, it definitely had me on the edge of my seat. And I'm definitely begging for more. Where the heck are the rest of the pages?! The ending of this book was so cruel. I guess that's as good a spot as any to start with, in this review. The ending of this book is where all of the shenanigans I'd been expecting occurred. HOW does Kincaid do this to readers?! I was howling as I was reading the ending. I have no idea how the author is going to turn things around in book three (if she is going to turn things around). Do I WANT her to turn things around? Kind of? But also no? But also yes? Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
After growing to love Nemesis and Tyrus in The Diabolic, I was eagerly awaiting this next installment in their story. There’s no happy ever after for these two lovebirds though as they have to decide how far they’re willing to go to keep their power. The Empress was a wild ride full of intricate politics and unexpected twists that was surprisingly dark. Now that Tyrus has assumed the throne after the events of The Diabolic, he can finally begin to forge his own path forward. However, the Grandiloquy, the nobility, are not happy that he plans to make Nemesis, a genetically modified killer, his Empress or that he plans to release technology and knowledge to the Excess. Fighting rebellion from within the empire, Tyrus and Nemesis must decide how much of their humanity they’re willing to sacrifice for their dreams while navigating a treacherous political minefield. I can honestly say that this book took me completely by surprise in the best way possible. There were a few twists that I definitely did not see coming and I didn’t expect the author to take this book in the direction that she did. I absolutely loved how dark this one became and I am so intrigued to see where S.J. Kincaid goes next with this story. I did wish that Nemesis and Tyrus’s relationship had been a bit more developed at the beginning since I didn’t feel the same spark between them that I did in the first book. I wasn’t as emotionally invested in them and I don’t think I had the same reaction to the plot as I otherwise would have (it was still good, just not destroys you because of the feels good). You definitely need to have read The Diabolic to fully understand this one but it’s best to go in blind otherwise. I would recommend The Empress to those who enjoy political intrigue and science fiction novels. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I had a few small issues with this book but the ending changed everything and brought this to a solid 5 star read. As other reviews have noted it starts out slow and involves a lot of talking. The focus is mainly on world building and it gets pretty complex with explanations of the political system and all the families and their shifting alliances. There’s also a ton of detail about their religion. It’s all a bit tedious and not very exciting. I think it was taken a few steps too far and in the process was less compelling than it could have been with a faster pace. This information all becomes quite important later on though so by the end I understood why so much detail was included. There were a lot of lovey-dovey scenes between Tyrus and Nemesis so if romance is your thing you should be pleased. Romance is not my thing and I mentally rolled my eyes and hoped their happiness would soon pass. There has to be drama after all to keep us reading! I was rewarded in spades and holy crow if you are a shipper of this couple buckle up buttercup because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. I was shocked at where the story took their relationship and where the story went in general. There were so many unexpected twists and things get seriously dark. This book ends on a big cliff-hanger and I’ve seen others plea for the author to fix what she broke in this one in the next book in the series. I might be in the minority but I want everything more broken. I want more destruction, more heartache and no forgiveness. That’s right, NO FORGIVENESS. The things that were done in this book were unforgivable and I think the final book should be a guns-a-blazing battle to the death. I will be quite disappointed if there’s a redemption arc for the “bad guy.” No forgiveness, no redemption, no mercy. I sound positively Diabolic. Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing an Electronic Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley for review.
When I started The Empress, I did not really know what I was getting myself into. I did not know how much pain I was subjecting myself to. This book took Nemesis, AND ME, through a tumultuous emotional journey, and I just had to take time to process it, so that I could write this review. The Empress starts off at the end of Diabolic, with a newly crowned Tyrus hoping to start off his reign with two stunning declarations - that he was restoring scientific studies, and that he was taking a Diabolic as his wife. Cut to The Empress, and you realize that wasn't as easy as it seems, even in an authoritarian society as the Empire. Randelvald had it easy I think, even with how he was possible the worst. Tyrus has to start his reign with a beggared treasury, half of his Senators in opposition to him, and being separated from the true power the Emperor wields, because the vicars won't support him. Nemesis, for her part, is growing to suppress her Diabolic instincts and instead act as if she were an Empress. Not easy for a person who until recently, didn't even think of herself as a person. She feels like a liability to him, but they love each other too much. In fact, this book kinda convinced me on their love more than Diabolic ever had. Like, during Diabolic, I was slightly invested in Tyrus, but my main interest was in Nemesis' personal growth. In this - man, I wish I did not have so many feelings. They both try different measures to circumvent the restrictions to their power, even going far and beyond in space to seek certain truths. All the obstacles they faced had me going, "oh come one, give them an effing break!" Senator Pasus was a key figure in their turmoil - he was the father of Elantra, in case you don't remember, and also a big member (I am implying both meanings of the word here) of the Helionic faith. He personally was so responsible for so much of the pain, I was constantly going like - please stop this. But Nemesis' and Tyrus' personal choices, and what those choices mean for each other and the Empire also play an important role. While they are both wily and pragmatic, they also have differing instincts. She has always relied on him to make the plans, because he thinks ten steps ahead (that twist in Diabolic - *kisses fingers like an Italian chef*) but when he is incapacitated, she has to figure out how to hold the power for him. There are so much twists, so much betrayal, I had to regularly put down the book because my heart couldn't take it. This book broke me - like so many before have, but also in a different way. There is inherently nothing noble about their cause, yet I wanted them to have it all. And what did I get? Pain and heartache! Thanks, Kincaid! This has been an amazing sequel, which went way beyond what Diabolic was. We get blackholes, shifting times, some reveals about the Diabolic generation process, and finally some answers to how this Empire came about. About that ending - even if the book had ended at the penultimate chapter (which wreaked so much havoc on my emotions), I would have accepted that as the end of the series. It was seemingly complete in that chapter, and masochistically, I think that would have made a brilliantly unique ending to the series. The next chapter, however, propels us into more pain and maybe a predictable outcome, and of course I am going to waiting eagerly for the next one.
This book. I may need a moment - not that it would help. Deep breath. I went through bouts of happiness, rage, frustration, hopelessness, and had to step away from this novel at times, but it is undoubtedly one of my best YA sci-fi reads this year because of the completely shocking, soul-crushing, and infuriating twists the story takes. Tyrus may possibly be one of my favorite YA characters - he's intelligent and usually ten steps ahead of everyone else, flawed, idealistic, and has a strong moral compass, but his soul is striated with shades of gray. Occasionally, second books in a series are filler before the finale, but beware, folks - that isn't the case here. This is an emotionally gut-wrenching tale that will leave you in agony waiting for the next book. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.