The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid
Source: the publisher
Rating: 2 stars
From the blurb: 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. Nothing else.
For Nemesis, that person is Sidonia, heir to the galactic Senate. The two grew up side by side, and there’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the Imperial 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 corrupt politicians and two-faced Senators’ children, and Nemesis must find within herself the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have—humanity. With the Empire beginning to fracture and rebellion looming, that could be the one thing that saves her and the Empire itself.
The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid is set in a futuristic world where the majority of humans now live in space. Humans that remain on Earth are referred to as the Excess and they rely on the space-dwelling elite for survival. All new technology has been banned and people must exist with old technology. The only new things to be developed are human-like beings in the form of servants and Diabolics. High ranking families purchase them to guard their heirs. One such Diabolic is Nemesis, purchased to protect Sidonia Impyrean, daughter of a senator.
The idea behind The Diabolic is interesting and the world building was detailed but also quite dense. It was hard to wade through all the different terms for people, their technology, their titles, their religion etc.
I think my major issue with the story was that I never connected with Nemesis. She has a very stilted narration, and I assume this was done on purpose to convey her robot-like nature. But it made for a story that was mostly tell and little show.
Another issue was that nothing was surprising and all of the twists were easy to spot a mile off. Nemesis being intelligent and programmed to protect seemed to miss an awful lot of clues, though perhaps that was because she lacked true knowledge of human feelings and interactions. A lot of the plot points seemed forced, eg. very convenient deaths that seemed to serve no purpose other than creating a reason for Nemesis to act. But, Nemesis would often make a declaration, only to go back on it a chapter later, and each time it was obvious she would change her mind.
I ended up skim-reading the last third just to get it over with. It seemed as though the end was wrapped up a bit too abruptly, especially compared with the very slow pace of the beginning and middle of the story.
Ableist language: fool, idiot, insane, madness, madman, invalid, imbecile.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for my review copy.
Cover design: Lizzy Bromley
Cover illustration: There is Studio
I used China Glaze White Out and BYS Steel a Kiss for the base. I used acrylic paint and nail polish for the butterfly and details.