Author: S.J. Kincaid
The Diabolic is a dystopian novel set in a space dwelling future after the Earth has become uninhabitable. Humans have created machines to do everything for them, even repair their technology. The spaceships that were once state of the art are growing old and becoming harder to fix, and humans have grown lazy with machines to do everything for them so much of the knowledge has been lost. The sciences are no longer studied so there is no-one left to create new technology. Society begins to stagnate and the ruling class are afraid their power will be threatened if people begin to gain new knowledge.
Robots and machines are not the only things to have been created for the ruling class. There are also a range of Humanoids designed for specific purposes; the only two that I really remember are servitors who are designed just to serve and the diabolics. The Diabolics are designed as bodyguards for the Grandiloquy; their one purpose is to protect the person they were created for. They are bodyguards and assassins but they are also best friends. They are programmed to be bonded to the person they were created for, they feel for them because there is nothing more important in the world than their person. They have no other emotions and are programmed not to feel anything for anyone else. They are logical and good at risk assessment, and their survival skills are intense. They have been designed to be bigger and stronger and faster so they don’t look like other people and they are bred to specifications set by their owners.
Diabolics are humanoid but they aren’t people, they are created. They are seen as possessions and not recognised as having any rights of their own or the ability to feel. They aren’t recognised as having the same cosmic spark that created people.
Nemesis is a Diabolic, she was created for Sidonia Impyrean and the two are inseparable. The entire idea of society and sociability is a little different in this world with families living in their own space stations, much of their interaction is done via virtual forums where avatars can be created to look however you desire; which means you may go through life without knowing what anyone actually looks like. There are also bots to change the physical appearance of people at will, aiding with the ability to hide true appearances.
There is a faction in the ruling class that believes the sciences are important to stop the entire race finding oblivion, and Senator Impyrean is one of them. His beliefs are treasonous and speaking out against the Emperor can have dire consequences. So when Sidonia is summoned to court her family fears the worst, the best way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia is to become her. She is schooled in etiquette, pared down to look more the part and sent off to the Galactic court in the face of uncertainty.
The Emperors plans were far more nefarious than anyone imagined and Nemesis lands in a vipers nest of corrupt politicians and their even more insidious children. She must keep her true abilities and identity a secret or she puts all that she is here to protect at stake.
The web of deceit, corruption and barbarism is overwhelming; even to one such as Nemesis. It is difficult to know who could be an ally and who is a mortal enemy with everyone hiding something.
The Diabolic is a haunting novel of a society gone mad, told through the eyes of a humanoid creature purported to be without humanity. She sees the acts of barbarity for what they are and isn’t afraid to try and make a change. Nemesis has lived relatively isolated with the Impyreans, there hasn’t been a lot of physical interaction with the outside world and she was treated more like one of the family. Sidonia truly loved her and refused to see her as a creature, she was a person and Sidonia’s best friend; her parents didn’t share the view but managed to treat her well in respect of Sidonia’s wishes. Maybe this is why Nemesis was prone to find that spark of humanity within herself that was hard to see in many of the others present at the Galactic court.
It seemed to me like the worst traits of humanity survived into this society of the future, everyone is disposable and we can genetically engineer humanoid creatures that aren’t actually people so it doesn’t count as slavery. The society is barbaric, brutal and violent with people destroyed for having differing beliefs that may jeopardise the Emperor’s rule. Not everyone is happy with the direction of society but how do you change things when the mere hint of a rebellion sees whole families exterminated.
I loved The Diabolic, I picked it up thinking it’s a stand-alone novel and originally it was written as such. Fortunately for readers Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers has announced it will publish two more books in the series. The Diabolic does work as a stand alone, there’s no doubt in my mind, but there is also scope for some fantastic new adventures for the characters left standing. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
There are many comparisons made to books and series The Diabolic is like but I haven’t read most of them so I’m not in a position to compare.
The Diabolic has a strong female lead who begins to question herself constantly but never wavers in her dedication. The writing is tight, the story is captivating, the action is never-ending and the themes are subtle yet still overpowering.
The exploration of romance and friendship is quite unique and there is certainly no insta-lust to be found in these pages. True friendship is hard to find when everything is about political pairings, staying under the radar and furthering careers.
An intense and violent ride through an inter-galactic future that is sure to captivate and entertain.