Title: The Diabolic
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (BFYR), 2016
Genre: YA Dystopian, YA Science Fiction
**I received a copy of this book free from Jellybooks.com and the publisher in exchange for reading data**
First of all, dynamite cover. I knew it was suppose to be a badass butterfly, but it took me awhile to notice the knives. That’s the problem with tiny cover pics and not holding a physical copy of a book.
Luckily, I received an email from Jellybooks saying that Simon & Schuster were doing a campaign, and I could pick any book I wanted to read out of five YA options: since my library does not have this book, I obviously went with this one. That and I’ve been dying to read it ever since I read the description. I’m so glad I got to partake in this reading survey. All I had to do was sync my book at the end of each chapter so that Jellybooks received the reading data. I hope I get to be picked for another one of these! The only drawback was I had to read it on iBooks, and I’m not used to reading on that app…but it worked out.
So enough of all that: let me tell you about the awesomeness that is The Diabolic!
Nemesis is a Diabolic, a man-made humanoid created to protect one person. And that one person is Sidonia. When bonded, a Diabolic is bonded for life to the person they protect. They will willingly sacrifice whoever threatens the person they protect. Like a lifetime personal bodyguard. Awesome, right?
The only problem? Well, Diabolic started to see threats that weren’t really that immediate. So the Emperor bans them and orders them terminated. But Sidonia loves Nemesis: she doesn’t see a Diabolic when she looks at Nemesis, she sees a friend. So the family fakes Nemesis’s death. No one can know she is the last of her kind.
When Sidonia’s father, the Senator, makes an enemy of the Emperor, he requests that Sidonia join him at the galactic court. And the request isn’t negotiable. Nemesis knows that the Emperor may be calling Sidonia to her death as punishment for the Senator’s behavior. And so she willingly agrees to pose as Sidonia when Sidonia’s mother asks her to. All Nemesis cares about is Sidonia’s safety.
So the family primps and preps Nemesis to play the biggest deception ever. Nemesis will have to be Sidonia, and if anyone finds out that she isn’t Sidonia, but instead a Diabolic that should have been destroyed, the family will be killed.
So Nemesis plays rhe part.
But when a move by the Senator takes everything Nemesis cares about away, Nemesis has no purpose anymore. She wants to die, she wants revenge.
But when an offer of vengeance comes in rhe form of an unlikely ally, Nemesis will have to find another reason to continue living: Nemesis will have to live for herself.
Is It Classroom-Appropriate?
So for some strange reason, The Diabolic is not on Lexile.com, despite all the hype and buzz surrounding this book. A shame, really. But that’s okay. Apparently the Emperor’s nephew, Tyrus, is an inspiration from I, Claudius. It doesn’t get more academic than that! In a Q & A on School Library Journal, she was asked about the connection with the work:
Nemesis is not the only character in the story who has to put on a guise of being someone she is not. I, Claudius centered upon a man born into this murderous royal family who played the fool to survive them and fly under the radar at a time when his relatives were being killed off left and right. There is a parallel with another character in this story; I needed a diabolical, fiendish Livia character to be the evil mastermind behind it all. I’d say the twisted familial and power dynamics of the characters Nemesis interacts with really were born from my love of I, Claudius.
I can definitely find some academic use here. I, Claudius is a book written in 1934 as an autobiography of the Roman Emperor Claudius during Caesar’s and Caligula’s reigns. How cool would it be to have this as a tie-in with I, Claudius as an anchor text? All the power struggles, family dynamics, and themes of identity could be heavily explored. I would definitely use this in the classroom and I could get a lot of material from just The Diabolic: it is a standalone and series books are so hard to do right in a Unit Plan. I’m excited just thinking about it!
So…I’m going to have to go with my gut here since Lexile doesn’t have a guide. There isn’t really any inappropriate material; there is a scene where Nemesis almost gets date-raped, but she isn’t human and the drugs don’t affect her metabolism. That’s really the only sensitive issue here. However, as it is best to be conservative in age assessment, I would say I’d put an age range of 14 and up. Younger readers might have a struggle with the interconnected plot as well. The Diabolic is heavy with intrigue, assassination, and political power plays. I always figure it is best for older, more experienced readers to read books this intricate. But that’s my opinion, and it really could be read as young as 12 if the reader is advanced.
Wow. Just. Wow.
There was nothing tropish about The Diabolic, and I don’t hesitate giving it ★★★★★. I already added it to my favorites shelf, and I wish Kincaid would write more in this story world. The plot was engaging, Nemesis was a new type of character, and Tyrus made me love him.
I loved the concept of the religion in the book, and how science was against the belief system…but I will admit that I have seen this before. Any time an author uses a religion in the book, the followers are crazy fanatics that done believe in reason, and he leaders of the religion are corrupt non-believers. I personally believe in God and it has never stopped me from believing science and technology are good things. In the book, Kincaid does give a shout-out to the “old religions” and the people that believe in God instead of The Universe are on the technology train. I did like that reference. I just don’t want people to eventually associate all religious or spiritual people as backward. Cause we’re not.
Be that as it may, I still loved the book and now want to read Kincaid’s Insignia series. She’s got real writing chops. I loved this book and recommend to all who are fans of dystopian lit who are sick of tropes or science fiction fans that love the idea of another race of people want a glimpse of what an imaginative future Kincaid developed.
I also added a rating image on my sidebar to make my star ratings known, but I can’t seem to figure out how to make it readable. I’ll be working on it, but for now, here’s my rating system so you can see:
Happy Reading, y’all! I have gotten behind in my reviews bc of school, but as it is coming to a close, I’ll be popping them up much quicker soon! Hang in there with me, baby! (Just think of the cat poster!)