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The Diabolic #1

The Diabolic

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“The perfect kind of high-pressure adventure.” —TeenVogue.com
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.

416 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 1, 2016

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S.J. Kincaid

17 books2,164 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,999 reviews
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
May 22, 2021

Some might call us a monstrous pair, and they would be right.
There is just something absolutely riveting about getting inside the head of a monster.

Nemesis is a Diabolic - a genetically engineered "thing" designed with one, single purpose. She has to keep Sidonia safe - at any cost.

Sidonia, the only daughter of a minor nobility, is the absolute light of Nemesis's life. The one thing that holds her grounded and sane.

But Sidonia is not without her quirks - she keeps (stubbornly) insisting that Nemesis is human, that Nemesis has feelings, emotions and more.

No matter how much Nemesis protests, Sidonia always clings to that belief.

And when the Emperor decreed that all Diabolics are too dangerous and must be put down, it is through Sidonia's love that Nemesis is spared.

When Sidonia is summoned to visit the very heart of the empire as a hostage, Nemesis does the only thing possible - she goes in her place.
The Emperor wishes me to send my innocent little lamb to the slaughter. No. Instead, I'll send him my anaconda.
Suddenly, Nemesis has to do the one thing that frightens her most - become human.
It’s terrifying to realize your own decisions are shaping your destiny.
Ooooo! This one gave me shivers.

I absolutely LOVED everything about Nemesis.

She was ruthless and absolutely cutthroat and yet, her sisterly love towards Sidonia and her budding personality really made her shine.

I loved the world that S.J. Kincaid created - all of the nobility scattered across the universe, stubbornly clinging to the past.
Our ancestors sought knowledge, but we, their descendants, glorify ignorance.
Absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel!
I would not just disappear into a void as though I'd never existed. I would not accept that I was less than these people just because they'd designed me that way.
YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,471 reviews9,647 followers
October 30, 2017
Re-read on audio just in time for the second book coming tomorrow on Halloween 2017!! And I still freaking love it! Woot! ❤️

I freaking loved this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All the stars baby!

I love Nemesis! She is bad @ssed but a really good diabolic and their not supposed to have feelings, goes to show what they know. She is a lethal weapon but she never really liked what she had to do to learn some things. She had to be trained to kill with no hesitation so she could go out in the world and protect another with her life.

The convicts surveyed me, and after a moment, the largest of them broke into a leering grin. "It's just a little girl. I'll do it myself. Come here, girl." He stalked toward me. "You want this bloody or do I just break her neck?"

"Your choice," the Matriarch said.

His confidence emboldened the others and set their faces ablaze with the hope of freedom. My heart punched against my rib cage. I had no way to warn them away from me. Even if I had, they would not have listened. Their ringleader had declared me only a girl--and so that was what they saw now. That was their fatal mistake.

The big one reached down to grab me very carelessly, his hand so close that I could smell his sweat.

The smell triggered something within me. It was the same as every time before: the fear vanished. Terror dissolved in a swell of rage.

My teeth clamped down on his hand. Blood spouted, hot and coppery. He shrieked and tried to pull back--too late. I seized his wrist and threw myself forward, twisting his limb as I went. His ligaments crackled. I kicked at the back of his leg to knock him down to the ground. I leaped over him and landed with a stomp of my boots on the back of his head. His skull splintered.

Needless to say it didn't go well for the other two convicts and Nemesis found her a new home to protect, Sidonia, heir to the galactic Senate.

Sidonia and Nemesis grew up together. Some things happen and then Sidonia's dad does something stupid and other things happen and the evil Emperor wants Sidonia to come to the Imperial Court. Donia's mother has a plan to send Nemesis in her place as no one really knows what anyone looks like through-out the galaxy, they use avatars and what not to talk to each other. They have to train Nemesis to be like a human and they do some drastic and narly stuff to her body.

When Nemesis arrives she seems to pull it off very well and befriends Neveni a girl from another planet. Seems like the evil Emperor has summoned a lot of heirs and important people to the Imperial Court.

Then something horrific happens and Nemesis wants to go off on a rampage. But <--she is stopped and saved by the heir of the evil Emperor. His name is Tyrus and I love him and love him and love him. He's the crazy mental relative that no one pays much attention to and he saves Nemesis and things happen and holy crow!!!!! I love him and Nemesis and I love this book and I loved Deadly (<--read the book) and I loved Neveni. Okay so I loved a lot and this book was amazing and I want more, is there going to be more?

Oh, and I see in some blurbs this book compared to other stuff and NO, it's not like other stuff. It's way better than some of the stuff that it's being compared to and I have no idea why it's even being compared to stuff like that but anyway, this is an awesome sci-fi book and I loved it and I do not care what anyone else thinks =)


This should be made into a movie. A GOOD movie!!

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,443 reviews78.1k followers
March 14, 2017
That cover is shiny and gorgeous, right? It’s initially what made me start oogling this book from afar and keeping it on my radar for months before finally taking the time to read and review it. I finally had a legit excuse to jump on the bandwagon once my Literary Box copy arrived, and while I’ll go into more detail below, I was so grateful I chose to read their copy with the author’s notes inside. This detail made the difference in my final star rating, which I decided to round up to a 4 on Goodreads in case you don’t follow me there. While I did find some inconsistencies and had a few issues, overall this was a highly enjoyable read! I think what had me flipping back and forth was knowing this is yet ANOTHER YA fantasy series in a sea of YA fantasy series and initially it’s what caused me to pause before picking this up to begin with. To it’s credit, this book was much more engaging and enjoyable than I was anticipating from the reviews I read early on; it’s clearly a book that has encouraged healthy debate which I’m always glad to see.

“Did he who made the lamb make thee?”
-William Blake, “The Tiger”

Let’s start at the very beginning. I really appreciated the immediate insight we receive into just who and what a diabolic is. We learn early on that our narrator is called Nemesis and that all diabolics receive fun, intimidating names, such as Enmity, Hazard, and Anguish. These beings are not human and are created for the sole purpose of bonding with an owner, meaning they form a connection to protect only that one human at any and all costs. After we fast forward a bit to present day, there was a good chunk of the book (about 75 pages I’d say) with a great info dump to catch us up to speed. I struggle with these as they have become a staple in most YA Fantasy fiction; the first in the series contains infamous info dump instead of slowly building it into the story. I think this is just a personal peeve of mine, as it’s clearly up to the author to do as they choose and I know a good number of readers who love this aspect and want to gain the world building knowledge as quickly as possible. Once I got through those pages though, I couldn’t put this down! It was exciting, and fun, and had plenty of twists I didn’t see coming, especially in the final 25%. I greatly appreciate the great dedication to detail and complex layering Kincaid went to in order to ensure the story was necessary in an already saturated market.

“Ages ago, humans beings progressed technologically at an exponential rate. We expanded into space; we left Earth and traveled the galaxy. And then the same thing happened that always does-we grew lazy. We had technology we stopped learning how to use. We let machines think for us, act for us. The supernova and rise of the Helionic faith merely worsened a problem that already existed. Our ancestors sought knowledge, but we, their descendants, glorify ignorance.

That above was my favorite quote from the entire book. Ok, so we don’t have machines taking over like in The Terminator, but how easily we could apply that last bit to today’s time. I always enjoy a plot that involves the banning of books and knowledge; this was a seed that was planted and investigated in this first book that I’m really hoping is more fleshed out in the following chapters of the trilogy. Even if it comes in an allegorical form, how important is it for us to take a step back and recognize how easy it is for us to become lazy with our technology and our need to make sure our learning never ceases. This book was progressive in many ways, but especially in the sense that women and men have equal chances of ruling and flourishing in leadership roles. I wouldn’t say this novel had huge amounts of diversity, but I would chalk that up to the fact that people altered their appearance for basically every scene, as this was part of their culture. The romance was fairly strong and there wasn’t the typical, dreaded love triangle, although there were a few twists in that department and the ending left me wondering who we can trust and how this story will end in the long run. There was a bit of poetic justice that I appreciated for including a bit of diversity in the love department as well. *Insert vague intrigue here!*

I think my only major issue with the plot is in the description above on the book jacket, so not a spoiler. We know going into the book that Nemesis and her diabolic kind are incapable of emotions, feelings, etc, yet Nemesis finds herself developing all of those things. We are literally pounded over the head for 150 pages with “I am not capable of feelings or love. I am programmed like a robot.” And then boom, out of nowhere Nemesis has feelings and emotions like it happened overnight. Why? How? None of this was really described or explained. Again, maybe this will be further explored in the remaining entries, but I was slightly bummed that I’m told for half the book one thing and then there is an immediate 180 that I was expected to believe without questioning.

The reason I decided to go with a 4 instead of 3 star rating on Goodreads was simply due to the influence the author’s notes had over me. For those who missed it, I was sent a YA review crate from The Literary Box by Quarterly Co. that included this book in it. S.J. Kincaid was this quarter’s curator, meaning her book was featured, along with 2 books of her choosing, and The Diabolic came full of post it notes with her personal annotations inside. After experiencing this form of reading, I wish I could pick up all my books this way! I cannot stress how insanely pleasing it was to have insider information that other readers didn’t get to experience. I was able to hear out her explanations of why she chose to write things a certain way, what her family’s reactions were to certain plot points, and how things were re-written to keep certain people alive and kill off those initially meant to not die. Sorry, if you want in to you’ll have to order the box, but I highly recommend doing so! Overall, this was a strong start to the series that I only think I’ll grow more fond of as I continue on.

*Many thanks to Alinn for providing my box for review; it’s been a pleasure sifting through it and reviewing the products!

** In case you missed my initial review of the unveiling of The Lit Box I was sent, you can find that review here: https://thesuspenseisthrillingme.com/...
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,797 followers
January 19, 2017

I am scrolling up and down through The Diabolic reviews and seeing lots of strange things:

4 and 5 star ratings ?????

Average of 4.07 rating from almost 3000 reviews ????



The Diabolic takes place in a sci-fi world where Diabolics are created and chosen to protect their master. Nemesis, our MC, lives to protect and love and care solely for the Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. But when the power-hungry Emperor demands Sidonia as hostage for her father’s actions, Nemesis is offered in place – hidden in Sidonia’s identity.

So this book sounds soooooo promising, right?? I mean, I wasn’t a huge advocate of sci-fi fantasy but ever since I read and fell in love with the Illuminae series, I’ve been more open to the genre.

And then I realized it was filled with books like this. :)


The writing is dull. It is monotone and really disconnects the reader from the narrator. I found it incredibly hard to get into this book and ended up skimming at least 75% of it.

And while there were some very few actually redeeming factors like the plot twists and the small bits of action that we got to read about, it wasn’t enough to save the story.


Minor Spoilers ahead

So Nemesis is supposed to be this soul-less monster who cannot fathom emotions or see beyond her need to protect Sidonia. That’s really great, endearing even, but then we go on to find out that Nemesis will fall in love ?????!!!!?????

W H A T ????

She’s supposed to be a genetically engineered creature and all of a sudden she has emotions ????

Where is all this coming from?????

I feel like this entire book could have been 110% more interesting if the entire romance factor was removed because honestly it’s the most prominent theme throughout the book.

I really hoped for better than this. Needless to say, I will not be continuing the series.

“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.”

1 star!!

BR with the lovely ladies: Amber, Shukri, and Sana everyone ditched me rip
Profile Image for jessica.
2,535 reviews32.7k followers
February 20, 2019
i had a difficult time writing this review because, within the last six months, ive read two other books with very similar premises and it feels like i will just be repeating what i said in those reviews. so i have tried to stay away from comparisons and just talk about what this particular story did well.

and where this book excels is in its world building. the heart of this story is the galactic kingdoms and various planetary commonwealths. the plot is very politically motivated, so what intrigued me most was how highly thought out and cunning the court politics are. everyone has secrets and no character can be trusted, so it was very engaging as a reader to see it all play out from the outside. i think that was the highlight for me.

the main component i found to lacking is a strong connection to the characters, and i think that may be a fault of mine rather than the books. there is some character development present and decent introspection, so i dont think thats the problem. i just couldnt bring myself to feel any sort of attachment to any of the characters. no idea why, but i do think i would have enjoyed this much more had i felt anything other than a general sense of apathy.

overall, this is an adventurous story with superb world-building and is an excellent set up for what i hope will be an even better sequel!

3.5 stars
February 21, 2018

“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.”

Story ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Nemesis always thought she was an inhuman machine, a DNA-designed “thing” to protect her beloved Sidonia as a Diabolic.
So when Sidonia is threatened by the Emperor and send to the court of the Emperor, Nemesis secretly goes in her place.
Trying to protect Sidonia and her family Nemesis learns more of humanity by seeing all the friendships, skepticism, betrayal and love of humans.
In the end the court is full of intrigues and liars.
In the beginning I wasn’t really sure If I liked this book. Until Nemesis was send to court this book was a three star book for me.
But then she arrived at court and the real fun began. Slowly I was completely in love with Nemesis and her life.
Sometimes the book had a slow pacing, but it still was so addictive, that you needed to finish the chapter only to start the next chapter to see what will happen next.

Characters ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
As I said I wasn’t really fond of the story in the beginning. I had the same feeling about Nemesis. She was a DNA-created machine and that’s the exact feeling you had while reading.
But then she slowly had an amazing and really strong character development throughout the book, so in the end I fell completely in love with her.
Then there was also Tyrus - the madman and heir to the Empire. I always have a thing for the “villains” of the story and Tyrus was the perfect example for this type of character. In the end there was more and more revealed of his real and complex personality, so I could actually defend my love for him.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Tyrus is a good guy, no, I don’t trust him. Especially in the end.
But he was still the most interesting characters of them all.

World ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’m not a big fan of sci-fi (sorry 🤷🏻‍♀️). Maybe that’s because I haven’t read many sci-fi books I liked.
But this book had such a great, wonderful-imagined world in the universe, it could actually change my opinion about sci-fi.
I’m not really able to explain the world of Diabolic to you, but let’s just say: there are
- medical bots that can cure illnesses and injuries in a few minutes
- Beauty bots that can change your whole appearance and make you even younger (or shorter/weaker)
- There are Diabolics who are designed to protect certain people
- There is a royal family that would make the “game-of-Thrones” author nod in adoration.

Relationships ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Oh man, oh man, how can I tell you about the relationships in this book without spoilering you till the very end?
Okay, I can’t. Lets just give you a few hints.
First of all I’m absolutely in love with the love story in this book.
It was so perfectly imperfect.
It was a love that was felt vulnerable, cute and passionate and so much more.
But there were also friendships to love, families to fear and people to hate in this book.

Writing style ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The writing wasn’t my favorite, by all means the author won’t become one of my favorite authors. But it was still a good, nice written book that was action filled and had cute (but also really weird) love scenes.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
February 15, 2017
A soft 4 stars, maybe 3.5. Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

The Diabolic (2016) is set in some distant future, when humans have settled the galaxy using spaceships that travel through hyperspace. Humanity has also been experimenting with genetic engineering, and for a period of time it becomes fashionable to purchase so-called Diabolics as bodyguards. Diabolics are cloned humans, engineered to have superior strength and resistance to sickness and poisons, and trained from early childhood to be skilled and ruthless fighters and killers, with no regard for anyone but the person they are chemically induced to love and protect. They are given names like Hazard and Enmity to reflect their dangerous role and, one assumes, to strike terror into the heart of any who might oppose them.

Nemesis is a young Diabolic girl, raised in a pen surrounded by a force field, treated as less than human by her keepers, and forced to kill regularly as part of her training. So when Senator von Impyrean and his family visit the corrals, looking for a Diabolic bodyguard for their daughter Sidonia, Nemesis quickly dispatches three adult male convicts that the Senator’s wife sends against her, to prove her worth. The keepers take Nemesis and Sidonia to a lab, where Nemesis’ undersized frontal cortex is induced to grow by an electrode treatment. Through that process she is emotionally bonded to Sidonia, who becomes her sole reason to live.

Sidonia cares for Nemesis as well, so much than when Diabolics are outlawed about eight years later, Sidonia and her parents protect Nemesis from the emperor’s extermination order, hiding her among their other servants. Soon after, when political tensions worsen in the galactic Empire, the Emperor orders the children and heirs of senators whose loyalties are in question to travel to the Imperial Court as royal hostages. Sidonia’s father has been committing heresy by studying science, a forbidden subject (more on that later) and sharing it with the unwashed masses, called the Excess by the Empire’s ruling class, so Sidonia is one of those required to come to the Emperor’s court. But no one has ever seen Sidonia’s actual face, which enables her desperate mother to hatch a plan: Nemesis is given the job of impersonating Sidonia (a treasonous offense) in the Emperor’s court. There she will find danger, political intrigue at the highest levels, and corruption … and perhaps love.

Society in The Diabolic is clearly inspired by ancient Greco-Roman culture, with a science fictional twist to it. That aspect of the world-building rings true, with its distinctions between classes and the many benefits available to the ruling class that aren’t shared with the lower classes. Less successful is the concept that the Empire is currently controlled by an anti-technology religious faction, Luddites who violently reject all knowledge of science (scientific books are outlawed) and development of any new technology, but inexplicably see no harm in using most of the technology that’s currently in place. So they’re executing or punishing people for studying science whilst using spaceships, high tech body sculpting, etc. Their society relies on machines to keep their current technology in working order, but gradually that process is breaking down. In particular, spaceships are failing in hyperspace, killing all aboard and leaving permanent, deadly holes in space. The inconsistencies in this worldview overcame my ability to suspend disbelief, as did some of the lite-science, like where Nemesis’ frontal cortex is electrically stimulated to grow to full size over a matter of hours.

Another aspect that seems to reflect ancient Roman society is the death and violence. The body count in The Diabolic is quite high, with Nemesis herself responsible for a good many of those deaths. This is balanced to some extent by the romance part of the plot. It’s a fairly standard YA romance, with misunderstandings and I’ll-die-for-you’s mixed up together, but the object of Nemesis’ growing affections is an interesting character in his own right, involved in life-and-death plots and plans against the Emperor. As Nemesis grows to care for him, the first person besides Sidonia who has touched her heart, she begins to question whether she actually has worth as a person, in a world where those who are genetically engineered are viewed as disposable possessions. This, and the twisty political intriguing and backstabbing for control of the empire, were highlights in this novel.

The Diabolic will appeal to readers who enjoy a mix of light science fiction and young adult romance. It works well as a stand-alone read, although S.J. Kincaid has indicated that two sequels will be forthcoming. I’ll be interested in following the further adventures of Nemesis and her friends.

I received a free copy of this book as part of a Quarterly Literary YA Box, which was actually a very cool collection containing this hardback book, with a couple of dozen post-it notes in it from the author giving some extra insights into her writing of The Diabolic, two additional paperbacks of recent YA F&SF novels that "inspired her," a card game, and a little "Bookwyrm" pin:

So cute! My teenage daughter has absconded with it.

Great prezzie!

Content note: high body count. Also, there's an unnecessary event that may well tick off animal lovers. Otherwise safe for all ages.
Profile Image for April.
146 reviews258 followers
May 29, 2017
Enjoyed this more than I thought I would. Can't wait for the sequel.
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
259 reviews4,900 followers
June 5, 2017
First of all, a huge thanks to Quarterly for sending me this book along with their book box - Literary YA (see more below!)

I was actually quite surprised by this. I'm really not a huge dystopian/sci fi fan (there are exceptions of course.) With other books in that genre, I've found that the world building takes precedence over the characters and is generally confusing. Plus, I'm just a fantasy kinda gal.

All that to say, I actually got quite sucked into this one. It is definitely character driven, which I appreciated, but the world was strong too. It was not exactly a light read - but an easy one. I didn't feel like my brain was going to explode from information overload. I'll attribute that to just plain good writing.

The plot centers around Nemesis - who is a Diabolic. Diabolics are human like creatures that are created essentially to be body guards. They are hateful creatures until they are 'bonded' with a human - one that they will spend the rest of their life protecting. They are treated like servants/slaves but they don't know any better. They consider themselves void of all feeling.

Right off the bat, I had a hard time connecting with Nemesis for that reason. She was very cold and didn't feel anything - and relating to her was a challenge. But as the story developed, it became clear that the whole 'Diabolics can't feel anything' is quite the myth. Her introduction at the beginning of the story was so horrific and sad - so even though I couldn't connect to her right away, I was rooting for her.

Anyway, without spoiling much - I'll just say that Nemesis ends up being sent off to the empire in order to protect the girl she is bonded to (Sidonia). She ends up pretending to be her- so she has to 'pretend' to be weak, have feelings, etc.

The plot did start off a bit slow, but I don't think i was ever really bored with it. It slowly ramps up more and more and the last 30% was pretty intense.

*Minor spoilers below - nothing big*

The best part of this was Nemesis's character arc- her realization that she was nothing more than an animal because she was only ever treated like one. She realized she could feel... could love someone other than her bonded.

There was also a bit of a love story and I actually thought it fit in really well with the plot. Nemesis meets Tyrus - the Emperor's 'crazy' son whom everyone pretty much disregards because he's 'mentally unstable'. Though of course, Tyrus is more than he seems, and as the story unfolds, he becomes much more interesting. When he learns the truth of what she is, he treats her like a person and encourages her to be better. I loved loved loved how he acted towards her and stood up for her. And when he makes her a *certain* offer - thats when the story got really exciting and began to pull on my emotions.

I also really appreciated the two other female friendships (I won't say who). They both played an important role in making Nemesis who she was.

Anyway, I loved the end. It was so satisfying and beautiful. It was perfectly wrapped up and I felt all warm and happy - which I think is pretty rare for this genre.

Okay, one complaint though... I really wish they had given Nemesis a real name. She could have chosen a new one or something. It just seemed more fitting than keeping her with that one.

Lastly, one of the best parts of my experience was reading all the cool notes from S.J. Kincaid. If you haven't heard of the Literary YA box - they have an author curate a box each month and they include all kinds of notes/fun facts/ and even books that inspire them!

OH OH and in addition to the physical copy - I actually listened to the audiobook as well. The narration is FANTASTIC and I highly recommend that as a reading experience too! (I don't say that often.)

My Blog ~ Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Etsy
Profile Image for Christy.
3,819 reviews32.4k followers
March 7, 2017
3.5 Stars!

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The Diabolic is a story about Nemesis. Nemesis is a Diabolic. Diabolics are genetically engineered weapons who are made to bond with one person. Once they do, they will do anything to protect their person. Only the powerful and rich families can afford this type of protection. Sidonia is the daughter of a galactic senator and she is who Nemesis is created for. Donia and Nemesis have a special bond, beyond that of a diabolics. Donia doesn’t see Nemesis as someone to protect her, she truly cares for her. When Donia’s life is put in danger, Nemesis doesn't hesitate to do whatever she needs to protect her. Even if that means becoming her…

Nemesis travels to the Empire as Donia. She doesn’t know what will happen when she gets there, but she’s ready to face anyone or anything. As long as Donia is safe, that is all that matters to her. While Nemesis is there, she realizes some crazy things are going on in the Empire. She meets a lot of good and bad people along her journey. A lot of people die. Like A LOT. I honestly didn’t expect there to be so much death in this one. One person in particular dying really bothered me and it definitely effected how I enjoyed/rated the book

Overall, I did enjoy this one. I thought Nemesis was a fantastic kick ass heroine. She truly did make the book for me. I loved being in her head and seeing her growth. Tyrus was great as well. There were a few twists in the story I didn’t see coming, and a couple I definitely guessed, but I liked the element of suspense through the book. There was action, friendship, loyalty and even love. I give The Diabolic 3.5 stars. If the author were to write a sequel, I would definitely read it. I loved the heroine that much!

A copy of the book was provided to me in a free sample box from Quarterly. The book had tons of post-it notes through it (written by the author) and I have to say- it was a pretty darn cool way to read a book!
Profile Image for Always Pouting.
568 reviews717 followers
February 14, 2020
Nemesis is a Diabolic, a creature specially genetically engineered to bond to one person and protect them at all costs. Nemesis is bonded to Sidonia, the heir of a senator, and for whom Nemesis would gladly die. Nemesis's bond to Sidonia is tested though when the Emperor summons Sidonia to court, as punishment for her father's disobedience, and Nemesis must go in place of her. Nemesis will gladly masquerade as Sidonia if it means protecting her life, but everything is complicated more and more as a rebellion looms and the Emperor takes more and more extreme measures to consolidate his power.

Uh spoilers ahead most likely? Anyways I was pretty unsure what to do with this one. I feel like the whole masquerading at the autocrats home and the underlying rebellion for knowledge and freedom plot line has been done so much that you really need to bring something more to it to get me interested and this book really didn't do that. Also I had to work really hard to suspend my disbelief through out the book because it honestly felt so ridiculous. So many things bothered me, like first of all if no one is educated and has knowledge and the machines do everything what is with the breeders? Why do they have people genetically modifying and raising living things on their own. Just seems like one would need biology for that and science is off limits.

Also just from my own limited understanding of biology, there is totally a way to engineer a being that lacks empathy and make it look human and I don't know just seems like a civilization that has multiple dwelling places in the universe could do better than to make someone like Nemesis, like no offense but that's just lazy as hell to end up with a killing machine with that much conflict and morality. Then there's the whole thing through out the book where Nemesis has to tell us that she's this emotionless being with only one purpose but like it just feels like she's trying to convince herself and it's so strange because like if you have these preconceived notions of yourself that are reinforced by those around you (ok except by like Sidonia) than does your inner monologue have to constantly be I'm a monster. Like show don't tell, just let her behave like a monster and then start questioning her own behavior and other people's reaction to herself when she see's she's not necessarily just an emotionless human shield. It would have felt so much less strange and like juvenile if there had been so subtlety to it.

Last complaint but that was such a cop out in the ending, it just felt so neat, like I had to sit through all that crap just for it to work out so cleanly, and for the Sidonia thing to have a resolution so simply. So much for the bonding, if it weren't for Nemesis's constant insistence that she cared about Sidonia I'd have had a hard time believing it. I just was not really convinced by anything and I think it's because I kept having a hard time getting into the book because it clearly wasn't well thought through, especially the logistics of the world itself. Like when they go to the planet and Nemesis doesn't know what lightning is but can say she gets into a car. I don't think they have cars flying around through space, they use ships through out the book. It was all just strange.

I do tend to like these types of stories though and I did read it in one sitting to know how it would end so it's not terrible. It just felt like it could have been more well thought out and I'm just kind of irritated Sidonia had to die.
Profile Image for Paul.
303 reviews73 followers
November 23, 2016
I started this novel with at least semi high expectations based on some reviews I browsed. it met or exceeded all of my expectations. not only a novel on bioethics and the question of the soul but an intriguing space opera.

I confess I am not surprised it met my expectations but am surprised a little at the pace the novel set.

this book didn't contain as much action as I thought it might, but I was enthralled by the world building and the political intrigue and the action was more meaningful by being used somewhat sparingly.

there was heartbreak, joy and suspense within these pages all set in space yay!
Profile Image for Swaye .
187 reviews38 followers
February 20, 2018
Wow. What a book! 😮😮😮

The Diabolic is a truly incredible read. Kincaid is a brilliant storyteller. It's full of twists and turns that you genuinely never see coming. It was honestly one of the most unpredictable books I've ever read, and after a while I was suspicious of just about every character and didn't know who to trust or what to believe!

The only reason why it doesn't get a perfect 5 star rating is because the flaws of this book are still sitting with me days after finishing. If it was merely the cringey as fuck couple of angsty, melodramatic chapters I would have been fine, but something pretty big happens towards the end that just doesn't sit well with me AT ALL.

If you haven't read the book look away now!
Profile Image for mith.
751 reviews259 followers
March 19, 2017
Yknow, having reread this a second time, it made me notice things. Before, and admittedly, while reading this, I'd been so blindly enamoured with Tyrus.
But there's something off, something too strange for me and so I am no longer like that.
I do wonder how it will bode in the sequels.
you can find this review on my blog as well!
And I so badly want to read it again. This book was BRILLIANT.
Like I've mentioned before, this book is NOTHING like Red Queen--and I'm not just saying that because I don't like that book (even though I don't)--or The Hunger Games. That, I do believe, is just to garner more hype around this book. And that's not bad! Not at all! If anything, this book DESERVES the hype--it's a completely fresh take on sci-fi/space drama or whatever. But it isn't like those overhyped series. I want to make this extremely clear so none of you big fans out there feel cheated.
So what IS this book like, then? Well. I don't think it can be classified as anything you've really read before--like I (should have) said, unique.
The main character is a Diabolic, which basically means she isn't human but a deadly creature. She's made to kill. At an early age, Nemesis is chosen to be a bodyguard to the senators daughter, Sidonia. And it's kind of a painful thing--they're like connected through their brains. (Excuse my faulty memory here, I read this several months ago and made the dumb mistake of not scheduling a review ahead of time.) Anyway it means that a nonhuman creature like Nemesis only cares about one person: Sidonia.
Anyway. One day the Emperor calls all the senators kids to his little kingdom. Of course, Sidonia's parents know that the Emperor would use Sidonia to get to them so they decide to send in Nemesis instead. And you might be thinking: how the hell would that work? Trust me on this, I was extremely doubtful too but Kincaid pulls it off brilliantly.
Now Nemesis has to maintain her cover in a lion's den. And it's a pretty wild ride.
Nemesis was such an amazing character. She knows she isn't capable of being human or having their weak emotions (goals) and she's completely fine with that. She doesn't seek to change herself. She doesn't feel bad if she has to hurt people. I've been so TIRED of characters feeling remorse when they have to acknowledge that side of them that having Nemesis just owning her deadliness is pure bliss.
I remember being wary about the whole gaining her humanity thing--I thought it'd be what I just told you guys I hated. But it wasn't like that! Yes, Nemesis does come to be a bit more human, but it's such a gradual change and honestly? It didn't even feel like that big of a change. Because she still knows what she is--she knows she's still dangerous as hell and she'll do whatever the hell she wants, emotions be damned. But the point in trying to make here is that there's some great development here. And for a standalone, to do it so gradually and believably is impressive to say the least.
I also remember wondering about a romance in the book. There is one, and it's a slow burn, and it's absolutely wonderful. Because both parties are cunning and extremely smart. Because both parties know and acknowledge the fact there's something bigger than the two of them being together. This isn't sappy. This isn't overwhelming. This is a rather convenient setup for the both of them and a hell of a lot interesting things happen because of them.
So! It goes to say that I absolutely LOVE this book. Definitely one of my favourites, not of just the year, but most likely all time.
ALL THE STARS, my friends. I highly recommend this and do hope you all check it out with it releases!
No, no. This isn't the Red Queen. Not at all. The only way this is The Hunger Games is that you can see a Capitol like basis in the book.
But please. Never Red Queen.
Anyway, review to come around publication date. This was a pretty brilliant book.
I am in looooooove with this cover
(ETA: Since I LOVE this book & this cover so much, I want you guys to experience the cover in better quality than it is on GR. Click here to see it!)
(ETA: there's an animated cover! click here to see it!)
Profile Image for Cindy ✩☽♔.
1,008 reviews785 followers
November 8, 2018
*ARC Review*

"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."

The perfect blend of dystopian and sci-fi. A story of friendship, humanity, family, politics and love.

Despite the initial pitch, this book is not Red Queen, though I do see where potential similarities may be drawn from. I do not, however, see any resemblance to the Hunger Games, not sure where that comparison was drawn from.

The plot is well-paced, and the story was entertaining and engaging. I enjoyed every minute of it!

Nemesis is certainly not your average heroine. She is a genetically engineered super human, made for the sole purpose of protecting her owner at any costs. She was meant only to be a monster designed to kill.

But when her entire world is ripped right out from under her she swears vengeance. She demands justice. So Nemesis sets out to murder the Emperor, to force him to answer for him heinous crime, but with a rather timely, though wary, alliance with the Emperor's seemingly unstable nephew she becomes so much more. A catalyst for change. Nemesis begins to realize the humanity she never thought she had might not be so impossible after all.

I think what I love about our girl is that she doesn't fall victim to the issues I usually have with heroines. She is not wishy-washy. She has a backbone; she has no problems relying solely on herself, and she does not fall head over heels with the male lead at first sight. Thank goodness for that.

In regards to Tyrus, well this boy is a clever, wicked and dangerous soul. Everyone thinks he is insane, he isn't or at least not the way people think. But he certainly puts on a good show.

"Tyrus!" rebuked the Emperor. "What have I told you about killing people?"

"Yes, yes ask you first, Uncle," grumbled Tyrus, sweeping into a bow. "But in my defense, she was irritating me."

"Oh, you," said the Emperor fondly. "She was dead anyway. Why hasten it?"

Tyrus tilted his head up, his pale-lashed blue eyes gleaming, his lips curling up in a lunatic's smile.

I'll be honest I almost wrote him off as well, but there was just something off about this. I was certain there was more to him. And that hunch proved right, for what some might've seen as an act of violence and cruelty was actually later revealed to be one of mercy. Like Nemesis there is more to him than meets the eye.

Tyrus & Nemesis
Well these two are what wicked pairings are made of. Both clever and deadly in their own ways, when these two come together they are a near unstoppable force. At the start, their partnership is tenuous at best. But against all odds, they come to understand, love and somewhat trust each other.

They are both each other's weakness and each other's strength.

Some might call us a monstrous pair, and they would be right. Tyrus and I were both scorpions in our way, dangerous creatures crossing the most treacherous of rivers together. Together we might sting - but we also would float.
Perhaps scorpions were the only ones who could save each other.
Whatever lay ahead, it would always be the two of us above the rest of the universe, and woe to any who dared step in out path.

 photo tumblr_inline_mz1z8hpTJX1rs4nv6_zps1dubl92v.gif

One thing I think that separates this book from many of its counterparts is that while Tyrus and Nemesis certainly came out on top, you couldn't really say the "good guys" won. Because in this book everyone was capable of horrible things. Everyone had blood on their hands. And while our protagonists might've certainly been more human, more capable of kindness then their enemies, to simply describe them as good would not do their characters justice. They are very complicated, very gray. Tyrus and Nemesis are a force to be reckoned with and I have no doubt anyone who tries to get in their way will feel their wrath.

Personally I loved this book, and I was fortunate enough to have gotten it months before release. But now that it is available I highly suggest my follow dystopian lovers give it a try because I need more people to talk about this book with! (Though its been such a while now I might need to refresh myself lol).


Animated Cover
Profile Image for Ishmeen.
380 reviews153 followers
February 23, 2018
4.5/5 stars 🌟 I am so shook by this book right now because I was not expecting to love it this so much?? Nemesis’s character was just so damn interesting to read about and the plot twists in this story made me not want to put it down. And boiiii the romance got me real bad I loved it 😍 I am not a big fan of politics but combined with science fiction I realised that I didn’t really mind it much in this story! Really looking forward to what’s to come next ❤️
Profile Image for Bibi.
1,282 reviews3,263 followers
September 14, 2020
3.5 stars

This was fun, fast-paced, and intriguing. Can't wait to read the sequel.
Profile Image for Chesca (thecrownedpages).
309 reviews158 followers
February 7, 2017
“Perhaps scorpions were the only ones who could save each other.
Whatever lay ahead, it would always be the two of us above the rest of the universe, and woe to any who dared step in our path.”

667 stars!
Buddy-read with: Samantha (A History of Books)
for The Quarterly Book Club's 2017 1st Quarter - Kickass Female Leads

Nemesis was a Diabolic, designed to defend one person and kill all the others who posed as threat to her master. All her life, the only thing that mattered to her was protecting Sidonia the senator’s daughter. She was supposed to be a property of the Impyreans, but Sidonia had always treated her as a best friend, an equal, and showing her that there was more for a Diabolic in the Living Cosmos.

Senator von Impyrean, Sidonia’s father was in the way of Emperor Randevald Domitrian. He was now seen as a heretic because of his beliefs. One day, Sidonia was called to the galactic court Chrysanthemum. Her mother, the Matriarch, fearing for her life, conspired with her Diabolic Nemesis unbeknownst to Sidonia. Nemesis and the Matriarch have agreed to spare Donia from the danger that she would most likely face and sent Nemesis in her place.

S.J. Kincaid’s The Diabolic is a fast-paced, political science fiction that will keep you questioning every part of it. It was abundant with astonishments and killings, while brutally and sharply exhibiting what humans, in order to gain power and control, are capable of. It was intense and bold as a meteor falling, slashing the night sky with its light.

The world the author fabricated was magnificent and spectacular. The story was set in a future wherein most humans lived in a vain and polite society in star systems under a galactic empire. It mainly focused on the Grandiloquy, which was composed of the elite and high-ranking officials. This is the upper class in which the Impyreans belonged to. When you read the book, you’ll find yourself in the midst of dances, parties, and false pretenses, which reminded me of The Picture of Dorian Gray. The humans were ignorant of the sciences for they believed that machines could now accomplish everything for them. They indulged in intoxicants in the form of inhalants and vapors during gatherings or whenever they pleased.

Humans could instantaneously undergo chemically-achieved body modifications with the help of beauty-bots. The majority of people looked a lot younger than their genuine age. They could effortlessly change the color of their skins, eyes, and hair. Reshaping their features could also be done through the same method.

They could also breed humans and other species like customized dresses to fit their fine taste. An example were the Diabolics who weren’t only strong and bigger in built, but were also without tear ducts, thus they were incapable of crying. Their growth could also be sped up in the laboratories. Some beasts were also built uniquely to fight in the arena through mixing different animal physiques.

The writing is ideal. It wasn’t simple, but it wasn’t too poetic either. It’s the kind that I think every reader would enjoy.

The characters, which I consider the utmost strength of this novel, were cunning strategists. They were outwitting each other every chance they got. Among a sea of traitors, they each needed to take a side, almost as if choosing a poison they would be willing to taste.

“Everyone believed Diabolics were fearless, but in my earliest years, all I knew was fear.”

Diabolics, with approximately the same biological structure as a typicalhuman being, were bred to kill and to be ruthless. They were bigger and more muscular. They were lethal weapons that only the rich could afford. Owning a Diabolic was a symbol of wealth. Nemesis, our dear protagonist, was such a strong female lead. As any Diabolic, she would do anything to protect her master. She would eliminate any threat to Sidonia’s life. Her tale was pretty realistic in the sense that she knew what she had to do in her life, she had a purpose, but then it was taken away from her, leaving her lost and miserable. Arriving at court, she was positioned in circumstances she never thought she would ever experience. These led her to choosing for herself without being dictated what to do and shaping her own path. Her development as a character was impeccably done. You could really perceive how she went from unfeeling to loving, hurting, and being jealous. There were some occasions wherein she was in denial of her own emotions, or that she could not express them properly. I love that the author delved into every bit of humanity in her, stretching Nemesis’s Diabolic traits.

Now let me talk about my beloved, Tyrus Domitrian. I have to keep myself from sighing dreamily every time his name was mentioned. Tyrus was identified as a madman. People witnessed him behaving very incongruously and peculiarly, talking to unseen things, and hearing voices only audible to him. His people saw him as a laughingstock and his grandmother despised him, but their subjects respected him well due to his position in the empire. He was the Successor Primus, but was appointed just because the Emperor, his uncle, never saw him as a threat to seizing his power. He was intelligent and always seeing ahead of the treasonous game that they were playing. Acknowledging that he wanted the throne and thinking that he would be a better ruler than his uncle, Tyrus was constantly considering the best and what’s fair for his people. Throughout the events, he was gradually proving himself to the empire and to Nemesis while galvanizing a disruption.

“People spoke so reverently of affection. For me, it seemed a torment. I couldn’t believe people enjoyed these feelings. How could someone relish this excruciating need to secure a claim on another human?”

Tyrus and Nemesis’s relationship was just exquisite. Their romance was slow-burning, which I appreciate greatly. Everyone in Chrysanthemum was a deceiver wearing his/her politeness as a mask, so they had no reason at first to trust and depend on each other, but they did because they had no one else. I utterly adored how Tyrus found an equal in Nemesis and saw a great deal of potential in her even when she never believed in herself. He first knew that they needed each other and he proved that they could not live without the other until the end. Their love was like a flower blooming amidst a desiccated and thorny field; it was uncertain but enduring. They somehow reminded me of

Have I mentioned that we have a pet dog in the book?! Yes, indeed, there is a creature named Deadly. You’ll like this beast and how he affected Nemesis as a person.

The most interesting villain was, of course, Cygna, Tyrus’s grandmother who was the most influential woman in the empire. She was very scheming that it was arduous to overpower her. She’d always found a means to get what she wanted. No one ever dreamed of being her enemy and allying with her meant bowing down to her sovereignty.

The ending was perfect and well-crafted. It was momentous. In wrapping up the story, I think that The Diabolic could work as a stand-alone. This leads me to feeling anxious about the sequel and the installment after that because I don’t have any clue how the author would weave a new plot for Nemesis and Tyrus from that conclusion. I’m honestly torn between wanting the sequel now and wishing there’d be no next book, and I’ve never felt this way toward any series before!

So my over-thinking brain presents to you a list of my presumptions for the sequel:
1. Since The Diabolic wasn’t open-ended, the author could explore the other aspects of the world. She could maybe focus on the excess, the partisans, or the employees. However, I don’t think any of those three would be good titles for the next books.
2. The author could tackle Nemesis’s doubts on , which leads me to number three.
3. What if
4. There could be a love triangle, but I absolutely oppose to that idea! That is always complicated and I hope the author doesn’t consider it.
5. What if

Overall, I highly recommend this! I insist that you read it. Please do grab a copy! If you’ve read it, let me know in the comments your thoughts.
Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews839 followers
October 17, 2016
4.5 stars

***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. She didn't deserve to grow up the way she did, or to be bonded (read: chained) to one person, to protect that person or be destroyed doing so. Nemesis is cold and clever and fierce, and in the beginning, she seems incapable of deeper human emotions. But as the story goes on, we see a transformation. When she is sent in Sidonia's place, she is separated from Sidonia. Nemesis begins to feel a variety of human emotions that are totally foreign to her, as a Diabolic. I liked seeing Nemesis change and develop into a stronger version of herself. She's still a Diabolic, but she starts to seem (at least emotionally) more human.

Secondary characters. I liked but didn't love Sidonia. She was sweet but I never really cared for her. When Nemesis leaves to take her place, I was glad for the story not to include her. At the Court, Nemesis makes a new friend, though unwillingly at first. Neveni is somewhat bold but a little timid too. She and Nemesis have similar ways of thinking, though Neveni is totally human. And of course, there is the "Mean Girls"-esque female, Elantra, who is pretty and rich and from a powerful senatorial family. She is Sidonia's (and now Nemesis's) rival. I didn't like her at any point!

And then there is Tyrus, the supposed madman of the Domitrian family (they're the ruling family). He's the nephew of the Emperor, and the Successor Primus (i.e. next Emperor). Unbeknownst to all (except, eventually, Nemesis), he is feigning madness. He is actually the most intelligent and clever Domitrian, and he has created an elaborate scheme to get him revenge as well as the seat of power. I adored Tyrus! He is so smart and so calculating, but he's also warm and flirtatious. It's so interesting to see these qualities collide and mesh to make up Tyrus. He proves himself to be extremely capable and powerful (for a human, especially). We see more of him in the second half of the book, and for good reason.

The world-building is pretty well-written, and totally intense. We're talking about what seems like a Galactic and possibly inter-Galactic world, with senators ruling planets, and Diabolics (engineering beings) in existence. There are rebels (they are the Excess), and there are scheming royals (the Domitrian matriarch is bananas). There is so much to this world, I couldn't possibly explain it in this space. But Kincaid does a really great job of crafting the world and making it her own. It's easy for space operas to get mixed up, but Kincaid's world in this story stands out.

There is romance! Hurray for romance! I love romance. This romance doesn't really appear until the second half of the book... with... you guessed it - Tyrus and Nemesis. I loved this match-up. The two of them are so smart, so competent, so capable, and so strong. They're almost a little competitive with each other, which is cute. I loved their dynamic. I like how each of them are powerful to each other, and each of them hold power over the other (i.e. each of them feel incredibly strongly toward the other, by the end of the book). The romance is slow-burn, and so, so good. It gets somewhat steamy (for YA, anyway), and I liked this progression. But it's incredibly important that Nemesis's development of feelings is well-written, and it was. The romance is so swoony, so sweet, and also very fierce and passionate (just like the pair).

The story involves a growing unrest and a rebellion, a lot of schemes within the royal family and within the Senate as well. Nemesis stirs up a little trouble at Court, but trouble was already set in motion long ago. The plot seemed to take off, once Nemesis was at Court. From then on, it seemed like everyone needed to watch their backs, especially Nemesis.

The book got more and more exciting as it went. I will say that the beginning was a little slow, but things pick up when Nemesis lives Sidonia's family and goes to Court for Sidonia. The story never loses its pacing once Nemesis is at the Court though. I liked the pacing, and the climax of the book crept up on me before I knew it. The ending was intense! So many betrayals, confessions, reveals... I was so worried for our protagonist, and Tyrus too (remember, he has Empire plans).

But, I loved the ending. It was excellent, and wrapped up everything pretty nicely. I would have liked to see an epilogue, but that's okay. The ending is a good one, though it's not cookie-cutter perfect. And the wonderful thing is that this book is standalone! I love standalone novels.

What I Did Not Like:

Like I said above, I would have liked to see an epilogue. The story ends with the end of the climax (typically the climax is some sort of "battle" scene). Perhaps the author is leaving room for future books? I could see that happening, because the ending of this book is literally the end of the climax scene. Which is fine, you could have an open epilogue ending and leave readers to imagine their own epilogue time of "ever after"... but I liked that this one was a standalone. I wanted to see an epilogue!

That's not a huge deal though. If the author does get contracted to write another book (or books) to follow this one, I would read it/then.

Would I Recommend It:

I highly, highly recommend this book! Science fiction fan or not, you'll appreciate the great storytelling, masterful characterization and character development, and unique world-building. Kincaid is a not debut author, so I may need to check out some of her older books. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for future books by her.


4.5 stars. I'm dropping it to 4 stars for now (and it'll probably stick), but I could see this one going on my end-of-the-year favorites lists. And you can probably expect a Swoon Thursday post from me, this Thursday!
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,030 reviews1,045 followers
November 17, 2017
“To care was to be helpless in the worst possible way.”

This year is about to end but I could only count with my fingers books that really wowed me. I didn’t expect Diabolic was going to be one of them. That cover though very simple and unassuming is also completely gorgeous and captivating. It’s honestly one of the reasons why I bought the hardback and it pleases me to the bones to finally fully connect with the symbol at the front cover after reading the story. It’s perfect!

The story is written in the standpoint of a Diabolic called Nemesis, a humanoid created with the sole purpose to protect a Senator’s daughter named Sidonia from the political threats of a cruel and tyrannical galactic emperor. The plot is simply brilliant. It started nice and slow with the perfect pacing and build up, rich with imaginative world building.

The futuristic world is very detailed and I could imagine the people looking like those from the Capitol of the Hunger Games except here, their beauty bots and enhancing machines are a lot more advanced. People could change hair style or color in a single command while humanoids or bots serve humans with their every possible need and caprice.

Multi, cruel twists of fate led Nemesis to finally decide what to do with her life by involving herself with the emperor’s “foolish” nephew, Tyrus. and thus putting herself in direct conflict with Emperor Rendevald and his power hunger, controlling creep of a mother, Cygna.

I must say the plot twists in this novel are endless and unpredictable. Events get more and more intense page after page that my heart won’t stop pounding. They get even more intensified by this fluid, majestic writing adorned with beautiful imageries and gripping metaphors. In short, it was a completely gripping read from page one till end.

The plot, character development, the philosophy, the politics, the literary writing, the romance and every other element of the story fits one another like unique individual pieces of this huge, beautiful puzzle of a novel. It was amazing!
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,166 followers
March 9, 2017
This book totally surprised me. It was the Donald Trump of books because it really grabbed my attention and wouldn't let it go.

*whispers* never let me go...

If you were a fan of Red Rising, you will really like this one. It has the same feel with a fake identity, court & political intrigues, twisty turns, lots of bloody death, and a bunch of insanity. There were so many times when you weren't sure who was trying to kill who. I loved that!

Our heroine is Nemesis, who is a genetically engineered bodyguard. She protects the daughter of a senator who has pissed off the evil emperor. Because the emperor is so evil, he decides to take the daughter hostage to keep the father in line. Of course, the parents have no intention of sending their daughter to the emperor's court, so they give a makeover to Nemesis and send her in the daughter's place.

Open the beauty parlor!

She's going to need that knife at court

The "court" where all the political players are assembled is something out of the Capital from the Hunger Games. Insane style's, complete debauchery, and serious danger. The emperor is a sadistic bastard, so this book isn't for the faint-hearted. There is a lot of cruelty and bloodshed. In other words, it's a lot of fun to read for a bloodthirsty person like myself. :D

real life picture of me as a youth. Stupid dinosaurs had it coming.

Oh, have I mentioned that all of this is set in space? Yeah! Cool! We have one scene where our girl travels to a planet for the first time and she is absolutely disgusted by all of the germs, messiness, and weather. Also, the sky freaks her out. In other words, a heartless killer is afraid of mosquitoes. And, they aren't even Texas mosquitoes.

We could use them as free public transportation. Well, you do pay. In blood.

I got this book in my cool Birchbox for books package (https://quarterly.co/products/literar...) and it even included a bunch of notes from the author. That part of it was awesome because the insights in those notes made me understand a lot of the choices that were made. I think all authors should give us notes on what they were thinking when they write certain things. Some of them have some 'splainin' to do. (Tris dying? Prim dying? Bella being interesting enough for a book? SMH)
Profile Image for Gavin.
863 reviews394 followers
August 8, 2017
I had high hopes for The Diabolic because the blurb grabbed my attention and made it sound like just the sort of sci-fi book I love to read. The actual story definitely delivered on the promise of the blurb. S. J. Kincaid had an engaging writing style and I loved both the characters and the story itself. The world building was a little simplistic but it was effective so it did not hurt the story.

A Diabolic is a genetically engineered human designed to protect the human it is bonded to at all costs. Diabolic are superior to regular humans in every way. They are faster, stronger, and far more resilient than any regular human could hope to be and that is before the training they undergo from creation to hone their deadly skills! Nemesis is a Diabolic. She was created to protect Sidonia, who is the daughter of one of the noble families in the Empire. When Sidonia's father makes some unwise political moves that upset the Emperor, Sidonia is called to the royal court to act as surety of his future good behaviour. Given the Emperor's well know cruel nature it is decided that Nemesis will go to court in the guise of Sidonia!

The story was a ton of fun. Nemesis managed to be a super likeable lead character despite being a ruthless killer and it was great following her as she mimicked being a regular human! Her nature made her what she was so it was still easy to root for her and her development from a Diabolic into something more as the story progressed. The secondary characters were an interesting bunch. Sidonia was surprisingly likeable despite her pretty much being Sidonia's owner. When Nemesis pitched up at court we got to meet a whole bunch of interesting villains and a few likeable characters. The best of them turned out to be the Emperor's insane nephew and heir.

The sci-fi elements of this story were pretty cool. There was a lot of cool sci-fi technology but the rise of a knowledge opposed religion meant that no one had any deep understanding of how any of the technology worked!

All in all I found this a very fast paced and exciting read full of characters than were easy to like and root for and with a story that kept me totally captivated from start to finish. S. J. Kincaid just knew the perfect moment when a surprise twist was needed to keep the tension at a maximum!

Rating: An easy 5 stars as this is one of my favourite new YA finds in years.

Audio Note: Candace Thaxton gave a fantastic performance in this one. She got the tone of the story and her voice acting was very good.
Profile Image for Suzzie.
908 reviews164 followers
October 20, 2017
This was an awesome read! I've had it on my bookshelf since around the time it came out but never got around to reading it for some reason or another. I am so glad I finally did! The world building does not override the plot, which I love since extended world building tends to annoy me. The characters are mostly vicious but that just adds to the story.

Overall, I enjoyed it so much that before even coming to review it on Goodreads, I went to Amazon and preordered the sequel that comes out this Halloween! So excited and it will not sit on my bookshelf to be read later. I will read it within days of it coming out this time!
Profile Image for Namera [The Literary Invertebrate].
1,195 reviews2,949 followers
September 16, 2021
If you know ANYTHING about me or my reviewing style, you know that I give out five-star ratings with approximately the same frequency that Yellowstone erupts. (Once every 600,000 years, if my memories of Geography GCSE serve me right). Even when books have been absolutely amazing, I’ve often docked a star for minor issues just because of how uncomfortable I am with giving out the full five stars.

And yet this book totally snuck up on me and nabbed the rating right out of my hands. It’s clever, wicked, twisted, and thrilling, and the character dynamics are SUPERB.

As always, let’s start at the beginning. Nemesis is a Diabolic, a genetically engineered human who was modified to love only one person in the whole world. That person is Sidonia Impyrean, daughter of a heretic Senator, whose beliefs that humans need to learn science is getting the whole family in trouble.

In this futuristic world, all knowledge of science is banned. People worship the Living Cosmos, essentially space itself; they live in space, with hundreds of machines designed to make their lives easier. But nobody knows how the machines work, and it’s treason to try and find out how. The Emperor has banned the dissemination of scientific knowledge as heresy, so day by day their spaceships and machines just get more worn out as nobody knows how to fix them.

Sidonia and Nemesis are, of course, very close. There’s nothing Nemesis wouldn’t do for Sidonia. When the Emperor gets wind of the Senator’s treasonous leanings, he summons Sidonia to the imperial court – as a hostage. Nemesis agrees to go in her place, disguised as her. There she comes across not just the Emperor but his viper-sharp mother, the power behind the throne; his nephew and heir nineteen-year-old Tyrus Domitrian, who’s utterly insane; and even other Diabolics such as herself. She has to be extra careful, because the Diabolic were supposed to be wiped out in a purge recently ordered by the Emperor, and who better than her fellow soulless killing machines to know what she is?

But Nemesis also comes across allies at court, other people who hate the Emperor. When her world implodes on itself, she knows that she won’t rest until he’s dead.

I can’t even begin to express how much I love the characters.

EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER is skilfully sketched out. I feel as though I know them all personally – like they’re people I’ve met before. Nemesis’s gradual transformation from emotionless Diabolic to human girl is incredibly believable; the author hasn’t fallen into the trap of making it rushed and unrealistic, so I was with her every step of the way.

I also love that Nemesis never forgets her first loyalty is to Sidonia, not to anybody else. Kincaid handles the tangle between Nemesis, Sidonia, and Tyrus beautifully and, very unusually for me, I have no complaints.

Tyrus is bloody brilliant. I won’t give away too many spoilers about the mad nephew, but rest assured he’s always three steps ahead of everybody else. The romance between him and Nemesis is everything I could have wanted it to be. And I don’t say that lightly.

The worldbuilding is pretty good, too.

The imperial court is very obviously based on those of the Romans: the Emperor as Nero, placed on the throne by his vicious mother Agrippina the Younger, the murder of everyone else in the family except those too mad to pose a threat (Tyrus). Even though these are all familiar tropes, I hugely enjoyed Kincaid’s spin on them.

It’s a space fiction novel, but I wouldn’t characterise it as science fiction. We don’t really learn anything about the mechanics underlying the world. But there’s enough to enable us to get by.


This is a slow-burn series; the second book came out in 2017, and I’ve only just gotten an ARC of the third and final book. Frankly I would have been happy with it as a standalone. But I think I will probably read the sequel, since I know I can move onto the third book instantly and not have to wait for cliffhangers.

It’s up to you whether you read the rest of the series, but the first installment is a must.

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Profile Image for Veronica ⭐️.
974 reviews198 followers
January 1, 2018
Wow! I loved this book. It’s fast paced and nasty.
The story is narrated by Nemesis. She is a Diabolic. Bred to protect their bonded human. They have no feelings, no love, fear or empathy, only a fierce loyalty to the person they are bonded to. Only thing is Nemesis has felt fear and empathy, but when it comes down to kill or be killed, she will kill.

Nemesis’ role is to protect Sidonia and when Sidonia’s father, Senator Von Impyrean, displeases the Emperor and Sidonia is summoned to the courts her family send Nemesis in her place.

Here we enter a world of beauty bots that can alter, enhance and colour your appearance on a whim. A world where recreational drugs and opiates are an everyday indulgence. A world where you need to tread lightly and watch your back as no-one can be trusted. A world where machines do everything and science and learning are strictly forbidden. A beautiful world of balls and gowns and operas. A savage world where life has no measure and ranking is everything.

The Emperor used fear and terror to control his people.
” I often think power is the most noxious substance in the universe. Both want and possession of it warp one’s character beyond redemption.” - Grandee Cygna Domitria.

S.J. Kincaid has developed a world that is easy to comprehend. There are no great info dumps or complicated political structures. The simplicity of the world makes for an easy enjoyable read.

Thank you Kincaid for restoring my faith in the YA genre. I fell in love with Sidonia, Nemesis and Tyrus. I story where the evil are truly heartless but there is also a blurred line between good and bad creating a truly outstanding heroine in Nemesis.

I am now looking forward to reading book two “The Empress”.
Profile Image for Carlos.
589 reviews289 followers
July 9, 2017
Wow, I didn't think I was going to finish this book in just one day, but once I started I could not stop ... this was such a thrilling ride to witness. Picture this , an intergalactic empire on the brinks of revolution, the elite having forsaken knowledge as something esoteric and punishing anyone who pursues knowledge to the point of murder . Diabolical are genetically modified creatures who are bonded to once person for life and then they will protect that person for the rest of their lives even to the detriment of their own. Sidonia has one demonic "Nemesis" who protects her once the practice of diabolicals is banned as per the wishes of the emperor and makes her believe she could be more than a creature . The story takes from there and pretty soon Nemesis would be forced to choose from protecting the person she is supposed to protect and the one her newly discovered heart tells her to protect even tough he could be a murderer. Intrigues , political assassinations and powerful political players (The emperor, the emperor's mom, rebels) all will shape the story of this book.... you'll enjoy it ... highly recommend it if you are into science fiction and dystopian futures .
757 reviews2,345 followers
Want to read
January 12, 2017
Edit: okay so I just recently saw sequels to this?? Omfg I thought it was going to be a stand alone read.

I'm not in the mood for this right now. I'll probably pick this up again in a year or so lmao.
Profile Image for Mairenn.
45 reviews6 followers
December 31, 2016
Dec. 31, 2016

from 1 star to 4 stars ...
Guys... I know! I know! ^-^

The early chapters of this book were indeed very difficult for me that's why I dnf this. But then, I remembered that I'm doing a buddy reading with a friend on another app, Books Amino, so I continued and really tried to get over my first impression.

Yes, I will stand by what I said that I couldn't relate with the characters at first and the story was difficult for me to get through. Maybe it's because this is my first sci-fi read set in the intergalactic. Maybe I was shocked by that or maybe I was in a slight reading slump when I first started this.

Good thing I continued.
Because the rest of the book is what I would say ...
and most of all...

My bad first impression was changed once I've read the part I was anticipating for this book. The character development was there and the plot was there. A very twisted plot, for that.

Though I must say, I didn't like the ending. It was unjustifiable. Or rather it was not necessary.

So for readers like me who've got hesitations for this book, I suggest you take them aside and read this. I've made my mistake of dnf'ing this book, don't be like me :)

Dec. 27, 2016

I'm giving this another try since I'm supposed to be buddy reading this book. Oops!

Dec. 23, 2016
DNF at 35%

Sorry folks. That's it, I'm out. I couldn't continue any longer. I tried to be invested in this book but I just couldn't connect with the characters. I couldn't connect with the story. My eyes are just passing through the words without really reading it. Then I would start over the page all together because I wasn't able to comprehend what I'm reading. And it feels like a waste of time if I would be continuing with this. Honestly, I don't like having to DNF a book but I JUSY COULDN'T GET THROUGH WITH THIS ONE.

Also, I did not expect the existence of drugs and rape concept in the story. Intoxicants are used nonchalantly and I was like...WHAT IS HAPPENING!?

I don't know about the plot because I don't see a plot but how could I be sure? I didn't finish it.
Profile Image for Andrea.
135 reviews59 followers
July 4, 2018
As a percentage score, I wound probably give this book an 89%. It was the first book I had read by this author,so this made a good first impression. I thought the world building was impressive, and I was intrigued by this imaginary culture. Nemesis was a strong lead character, but I think the other characters could have been a bit more polished. There was also a long cast, so if you had read this book through a long period of time, you probably have to flip through the pages to refresh on who was who. There were two main issues I had with this book:
A. The ending. So I understand that it wasn't Tyrus's fault that what's-her-face died, but I would have NOT taken him back only a few seconds after finding out. Nemesis seemed to forget that he had lied to her and left those small shockers and used them against her. I would still have been upset with him. That, AND HE NEVER SAID ANYTHING WHEN SHE SHOWED HER ACTUAL FACE. Now that really ticked me off. I think we should have had at least a good 5 pages from Tyrus where he talks about her natural beauty, but no. HE DIDN'T EVEN NOTICE. Ugh. Typical.
B. SIDONIA. I couldn't figure out her feeling for Nemesis. Did she have romantic feelings? Or was it a best friend thing? Or was she just possessive and jealous? (In my opinion, it was probably the latter.) Not only that but, she was so naive and spoiled. She literally visited the emperor's palace/ship NOT EVEN CARING THAT IF SHE WAS FOUND OUT, NEMESIS WOULD BE EXECUTED. That was just so dumb. Like SO dumb. There, we had a plot hole because we never found out how she had managed to survive and whether or not her parents still lived as well. I just really didn't like her character and was hoping that she would die the entirety of the book.
With those points set aside, I enjoyed the book. I am excited to see where the next book will go. 😊
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