The Diabolic by S. J. KincaidThe Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid

The Diabolic

byS. J. Kincaid

Hardcover | June 30, 2017

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“The perfect kind of high-pressure adventure.” —
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.
Title:The DiabolicFormat:HardcoverDimensions:416 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.4 inPublished:June 30, 2017Publisher:Simon & Schuster Books for Young ReadersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1481472674

ISBN - 13:9781481472678


Rated 5 out of 5 by from So so good Such a great political sci-fi. I couldn't put this down. I had no idea it would be so twisty turny, but heavens am I glad it was. The characters are great, as is the world-building and the story as a whole.
Date published: 2017-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING OMG THIS WAS AMAZING Tyrus and Nemesis are GOALS :) Recommend this to fans of Carve the Mark, Empress of a Thousand Skies, Red Queen Series, and Defy the Stars!!! Can't wait for the sequel - The Empress!!!!
Date published: 2017-10-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It is pretty strange a lot of WTF things happen in this book. just stick with it, it is worth it. Near the end the relationships get a little stupid but there are good plot twists (even the ones that hurt). I look forward to the sequel
Date published: 2017-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Sci-Fi/Dystopian in a REALLY Long Time This is one of the few sci-fi/dystopian books that aren't the next Hunger Games.Sure, if you liked the Hunger Games you'd love this book, but let's be honest, the Hunger Games is probably the most loved dystopian book just because it got huge in the moviemaking industry. (Not only that, but honestly, HG was just a ripoff of Battle Royale) Anyways, we're talking about THIS book here, which is a thousand times better than THG. The Diabolic is a book about a strong female heroine trying to find her humanity. Keep in mind, from the moment she was born, basically, she had all her emotions and humanity stripped away. This story is not only about Nemesis finding her humanity and learning to love (which, by the way, is what I loved A LOT about this book), but it's also got SPACE and MATRIARCHS (which doesn't sound all that interesting, but trust me, it's pretty damn captivating) and FAKE DATING (to put it to it's simplest and jargon-y-est form). Now the writing of this book is also amazing. It moves at a rapid pace, but with enough details to actually feel immersed in the world and its characters. The FEELINGS I felt reading this was just insane because I was expecting a regular ol' YA novel but little did I know that Kincaid's recent writings would TEAR ME APART. The writing was so gripping that I finished most of it in one day and woke up early the next morning to finish it then. I didn't even know about the hype of this book until afterwards, but I have to say, this book DEFINITELY deserves the hype, and so much more. Please give this book a read because you will not regret it. Unless, of course, you have no soul and don't like to read. Then watevr
Date published: 2017-09-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty Good Honestly, kind of wish this stayed as a standalone. I was excited to be reading this as a standalone. But, you know, I'll still read the rest of the trilogy.
Date published: 2017-01-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great protagonist, plotting and world building! Okay, so you've finished all the latest trilogies and you've been waiting for a new kick*** heroine and a fantastic plot along. Uh, huh - you got it - The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid is all that - and more. Here's the premise - sometime far in the future and spread across the universe, an elite class has risen to rule, with an Emperor at the top of the pyramid. That ruling class all own Diabolics - genetically modified and trained killers with no emotion. The Diabolic's reason for living is to protect the person they were created for. Nemesis was created for Sidonia. "We looked like people, to be sure. We had the DNA of people but we were something else: creatures fashioned to be utterly ruthless and totally loyal to a single individual." When the Emperor decrees that all Diabolics should be destroyed and then summons all the young heirs to the galactic Senate, Sidonia's mother knows that the Emperor is up to no good. She decides to send Nemesis in Sidonia's place. I was caught up in the first few pages. Nemesis was such a great lead character - she's ruthless, but ignorant of the ways of the court, the political machinations and human interactions with anyone but Sidonia and her family. She has to both imitate Sidonia and make her way through the minefield she's landed in. Kincaid does a great job with the tension, inserting one nail biting scene after another. The story is action filled and moves forward at a rapid pace. Kincaid's world building is laudable as well. Her society believes it has evolved to the highest pinnacle - unaware that they are simply repeating a history that has come and fallen before. The physical details of her settings are unique and well described. I loved all the 'future' technology Kincaid dreamed up. "Human history, Tyrus said, is a repetition of pattern. Empires rise and fall into decadence and decay. Time and time again." The plotting is just as wonderful - a political cat and mouse game well played out. And of course, it would not be complete without a possible romance. But will it be a two sided affair? After all, Nemesis can't feel emotion - or can she? Will Nemesis find her humanity? In time to save humanity? The Diabolic was a really good read. Good enough that I devoured most of it on my day off and got up early to finish it the next day before I went to work. Take a second look at that cover - it's perfect for the story - sharpened steel sheathed in a beautiful guise. As well as the idea of the diabolic morphing into something perhaps a bit gentler. And speaking of kicking - I'm kicking myself - this is the first book I've read of Kincaid, but it won't be the last! The Diabolic is a stand alone - but I kinda wish Kincaid would do a sequel......
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Review from Giselle at Book Nerd Canada Well that took a while to get through, but overall a well written stand-a-lone. I did feel the book dragged on and there was a lot of exhaustive scenes with tons of build-up. Kind of felt the ending was rushed or maybe that just me? I did feel the faith versus science war would have made a better story-line than this problematic political family.. Yikes! The coolest part about the entire book was reading about their advancements such as med bots, beauty bots and even zero gravity dancing. That was an experience you had to read about. I also felt some scenes weren't too necessary plot-wise, it was more for characters and relationships to develop which isn't anything bad, I just got bored really easily. That's probably why it took me about five days to finish it. I just didn't have the burning rush to finish it so I ended up reading it super slowly. One main thing I had with their history was that instead of favouring technology and science, they favoured their faith. But to me, that wasn't logical at all. How can you be traveling around the universe with one-thousand year old spaceships that are breaking apart?! If you don't advance your knowledge or technology, then the human race becomes stagnant. I'm all for the being religious, but I believe you need both. I was even hoping for another life form to come in and take over, maybe even the diabolics lol... I wanted Nemesis to start reading all the ancient books and start amassing knowledge at break-neck speeds. I liked how the main character is literally from a humanoid point of view. That was fun to read because she didn't understand anything emotional. Granted, it was very predictable and cliche, but okay I give bonuses points for making this a political sci-fi read! Right off the bat, I immediately liked the love interest. Even from their first meeting, he made me laugh. I think most people would remember that encounter for a long time. I liked the problematic family situation though, I've never encountered characters quite like these before. "The Diabolic" is a great stand-a-lone to add to your TBR lists, namely for the space-like setting and political intrigue. Grab this one if you like both!
Date published: 2016-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Deserves All the Hype!! I first noticed The Diabolic because of all the hype surrounding it. It was everywhere. Everyone was talking about it. I had my hesitations but after reading the book in one day, I can say The Diabolic deserves all of the hype. I love a fast-paced book and that's exactly what The Diabolic delivered. Whether it was playing up political mind games or diving into action sequences, the story kept moving forward. I loved every moment in this glorious world. Ms. Kincaid paints a very dazzling stage in space for the story to play out on. There was so much to it I loved learning every bits and pieces. Some shocking twists and turns definitely had me speechless. Despite being a humanoid, Nemesis displayed an assortment of human emotions throughout the book. She struggled against her deadly nature, against doing the right or wrong thing and against her own doubts and hesitations. I greatly admired her and the tremendous growth she managed to do in the book. All of it while under constant pressure and scrutiny. Nemesis was complex and dare I say more human than most of the other characters. Tyrus- that crazy mad boy. He had my interest peaked from the moment he appeared on the pages. I don't want to say too much about him except that he is deeper and truer than any of the other characters in The Diabolic (with the exception of Nemesis). Watch out for him ;) There is a romance and I ate it all up. The development between Nemesis and Tyrus gave me all the feels. Their relationship grew from wariness to respect to awe to love. Every step developed naturally. The fact that their relationship was absolutely forbidden and a total taboo added that much more sizzles whenever they're together. A power couple I'd bow down to. I got chills from the ending. It's an unknown yet certain future. A most excellent way to finish things up while leaving hopes for a sequel. I love that while this is a standalone I can still clearly see the possibility for more. This world and its characters definitely has more to offer. I very highly recommend The Diabolic. I'm super happy and relieved the hype didn't chase me away from this book because the hype is true. The Diabolic is powerful and will suck you in. Read it!
Date published: 2016-10-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It Was Alright I thought this one had it's ups and downs: it started off really strong but then tappered off, got strong again, and then I just stopped caring. I felt as though the plot was a little too all over the place and didn't really seem to have a direct path from A to B, we had to detour through A.A, A.B, A.C, etc. until we got there. This one started off strong with the idea that Nemesis was going to pretend to be Donia and learning the ropes of etiquette was great. I also liked that she was really ruthless, which was a highlight throughout the entire novel. However, the action seemed to taper off and Nemesis made some strange decisions that were supposed to show her "humanity" but just seemed really off balance for the narrative of the story. I felt like trying to show Nemesis's humanity was what killed this story in general: it was really forced, it always came up at an awkward time, and it really wasn't needed. I would have been 100% more okay with Nemesis just being a ruthless killer and not understanding the nuances of humanity. She didn't need to grow as a "human" because she wasn't one. The one thing that really worked for this one was the idea that humans are just as ruthless as the Diabolics that they created. I loved seeing the power play between all the elties and how they ensured the safety of themselves and those they loved and trusted. I very much like Tyrius and his quest for power. I didn't, however, like that there was so much of "this person is responsible for this -- no what actually this other person is" because it was so obvious that someone else was responsible and it was weird to me that Nemesis didn't immediately catch on considering she could so easily read other people. I honestly feel like if this story had just been about revenge, I would have liked it so much more. But alas. And I was really disappointed with the dancing scene that we got. I live for those and it was so boring. I would recommend checking this one out from the library rather than purchasing a copy for yourself.
Date published: 2016-08-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from House of Cards, in Space. Nemesis is a Diabolic, and Diabolics do not feel. Or at least they shouldn't, but when Nemesis is sent to the heart of the Empire, her entire world changes. Betrayal lurks around every corner, and she must be careful to keep her identity -and true nature- a secret. All Diabolics were supposed to have been eliminated, she should not be alive. She also certainly should not be impersonating a senator's daughter, and yet...there she is. Out of duty, and out of love. As the tale weaves on Nemesis becomes much more human, and rejects these feelings as they appear, believing her humanity to be impossible. It is what she has been told her entire life after all. Yet maybe there is more to Diabolics, and to Nemesis, than that. As the stakes grow ever higher and old faces re-enter Nemesis' life, her choices become that much less clear and when a man enters the equation... well, she can't feel love and compassion as humans can. Can she? As the fight for her life and the future of the Empire begins in earnest, Nemesis must ask difficult questions about who she is, and what she has the potential to become. -- Nemesis kicks major butt, in the most literal sense imaginable. There is a lot going on in this book, from the fights fought with fists to those behind close doors and pointed smiles. It is very well done with the main characters being incredibly intriguing and each displaying their humanity in a myriad of ways.
Date published: 2016-06-08

Read from the Book

The Diabolic 1 SIDONIA had made a dangerous mistake. She was carving a statue out of a great stone slab. There was something mesmerizing about the swiping and flashing of her laser blade, bright against the dark window overlooking the starscape. She never aimed the blade where I expected, but somehow she always produced an image in the stone that my own imagination could never have conjured. Today it was a star gone supernova, a scene from Helionic history depicted vividly in rock. Yet one swipe of her blade had extracted too large a chunk from the base of the sculpture. I saw it at once and jumped to my feet, alarm prickling through me. The structure was no longer stable. At any moment, that entire statue was going to come crashing down. Donia knelt to study the visual effect she’d created. Oblivious to the danger. I approached quietly. I didn’t want to warn her—it might startle her into jerking or jumping, and cutting herself with the laser. Better to rectify the situation myself. My steps drew me across the room. Just as I reached her, the first creak sounded, fragments of dust raining down from above her as the statue tilted forward. I seized Donia and whipped her out of the way. A great crashing exploded in our ears, dust choking the stale air of the art chamber. I wrested the laser blade from Donia’s hand and switched it off. She pulled free, rubbing at her eyes. “Oh no! I didn’t see that coming.” Dismay slackened her face as she looked over the wreckage. “I’ve ruined it, haven’t I?” “Forget the statue,” I said. “Are you hurt?” She glumly waved off my question. “I can’t believe I did that. It was going so well. . . .” With one slippered foot, she kicked at a chunk of broken stone, then sighed and glanced at me. “Did I say thanks? I didn’t. Thanks, Nemesis.” Her thanks did not interest me. It was her safety that mattered. I was her Diabolic. Only people craved praise. Diabolics weren’t people. We looked like people, to be sure. We had the DNA of people, but we were something else: creatures fashioned to be utterly ruthless and totally loyal to a single individual. We would gladly kill for that person, and only for them. That’s why the elite imperial families eagerly snatched us up to serve as lifelong bodyguards for themselves and their children, and to be the bane of their enemies. But lately, it seemed, Diabolics were doing their jobs far too well. Donia often tapped into the Senate feed to watch her father at work. In recent weeks, the Imperial Senate had begun debating the “Diabolic Menace.” Senators discussed Diabolics gone rogue, killing enemies of their masters over small slights, even murdering family members of the child they were assigned to protect to advance that child’s interests. We were proving more of a threat to some families than an asset. I knew the Senate must have come to a decision about us, because this morning, the Matriarch had delivered a missive to her daughter—one directly from the Emperor. Donia had taken a single look at it and then thrown herself into carving. I’d lived with her for nearly eight years. We’d virtually grown up side by side. She only grew silent and distracted like this when worried about me. “What was in the missive, Donia?” She fingered a slab of the broken statue. “Nemesis . . . they banned Diabolics. Retroactively.” Retroactively. That meant current Diabolics. Like me. “So the Emperor expects you to dispose of me.” Donia shook her head. “I won’t do it, Nemesis.” Of course she wouldn’t. And then she’d be punished for it. An edge crept into my voice. “If you can’t bring yourself to be rid of me, then I’ll take the matter into my own hands.” “I said I won’t do it, Nemesis, and neither will you!” Her eyes flashed. She raised her chin. “I’ll find another way.” Sidonia had always been meek and shy, but it was a deceptive appearance. I’d long ago learned there was an undercurrent of steel within her. Her father, Senator von Impyrean, proved a help. He nursed a powerful animosity toward the Emperor, Randevald von Domitrian. When Sidonia pleaded for my life, a glimmer of defiance stole into the Senator’s eyes. “The Emperor demands her death, does he? Well, rest easy, my darling. You needn’t lose your Diabolic. I’ll tell the Emperor the death has been carried out, and that will be the end of the matter.” The Senator was mistaken. Like most of the powerful, the Impyreans preferred to live in isolation and socialize only in virtual spaces. The nearest Excess—those free humans scattered on planets—were systems away from Senator von Impyrean and his family. He wielded his authority over the Excess from a strategic remove. The family fortress orbited an uninhabited gas giant ringed by lifeless moons. So we were all startled weeks later when a starship arrived out of the depths of space—unannounced, unheralded. It had been dispatched by the Emperor under the pretext of “inspecting” the body of the Diabolic, but it was no mere inspector onboard. It was an Inquisitor. Senator von Impyrean had underestimated the Emperor’s hostility toward the Impyrean family. My existence gave the Emperor an excuse to put one of his own agents in the Impyrean fortress. Inquisitors were a special breed of vicar, trained to confront the worst heathens and enforce the edicts of the Helionic religion, often with violence. The Inquisitor’s very arrival should have terrified the Senator into obedience, but Sidonia’s father still circumvented the will of the Emperor. The Inquisitor had come to see a body, so a body he was shown. It simply wasn’t mine. One of the Impyreans’ Servitors had been suffering from solar sickness. Like Diabolics, Servitors had been genetically engineered for service. Unlike us, they didn’t need the capacity to make decisions, so they hadn’t been engineered to have it. The Senator took me to the ailing Servitor’s bedside and gave me the dagger. “Do what you do best, Diabolic.” I was grateful he’d sent Sidonia to her chambers. I wouldn’t want her to see this. I sank the dagger under the Servitor’s rib cage. She didn’t flinch, didn’t try to flee. She gazed at me through blank, empty eyes, and then a moment later she was dead. Only then was the Inquisitor allowed to dock with the fortress. He made a cursory inspection of the body, pausing over it merely to note, “How odd. She appears . . . freshly dead.” The Senator stood bristling at his shoulder. “The Diabolic has been dying of solar sickness for several weeks now. We’d just decided to end her suffering when you arrived in the system.” “Contrary to what your missive said,” the Inquisitor stated, swinging on him. “You claimed the death had already been carried out. Now that I see her, I wonder at her size. She’s rather small for a Diabolic.” “Now you question the body, too?” roared the Senator. “I tell you, she was wasting away for weeks.” I watched the Inquisitor from the corner. I wore a new Servitor’s gown, my size and musculature hidden beneath voluminous folds. If he saw through the ruse, then I would kill him. I hoped it wouldn’t come to that. Concealing an Inquisitor’s death might prove . . . complicated. “Perhaps if your family was more respectful of the Living Cosmos,” the Inquisitor remarked, “your household would have been spared a ghastly affliction like solar sickness.” The Senator ripped in an angry breath to reply, but at that moment the Matriarch darted forward from where she’d been lurking in the doorway. She seized her husband’s arm, forestalling him. “How right you are, Inquisitor! We are immensely grateful for your insight.” Her smile was gracious, for the Matriarch didn’t share her husband’s eagerness to defy the Emperor. She’d felt imperial wrath firsthand at a young age. Her own family had displeased the Emperor, and her mother had paid the price. Now she appeared electric with anxiety, her body quivering with eagerness to placate their guest. “I’d be ever so pleased if you’d observe our services tonight, Inquisitor. Perhaps you can note what we are doing wrong.” Her tone dripped with sweetness, the sort that sounded odd in her usual acrid voice. “I would be glad to do so, Grandeé von Impyrean,” replied the Inquisitor, now gracious. He reached out to draw her knuckles to his cheek. She pulled away. “I’ll go make the arrangements with our Servitors. I’ll take this one now. You—come.” She jerked her head for me to accompany her. I didn’t want to leave the Inquisitor. I wanted to watch his every movement, observe his every expression, but the Matriarch had left me no choice but to follow her as a Servitor would. Our steps brought us out of the chamber, far from the Inquisitor’s sight. The Matriarch picked up her pace, and I did as well. We wound together down the corridor toward the Senator’s chambers. “Madness,” she muttered. “It’s madness to take this risk right now! You should be lying dead before that Inquisitor, not walking here at my side!” I cast her a long, considering look. I’d gladly die for Donia, but if it came to my life or the Matriarch’s, I’d put myself first. “Do you intend to tell the Inquisitor what I am?” Even as I spoke, I visualized the blow I’d use to kill her. A single strike to the back of the head. . . . No need to risk her screaming. Donia might emerge from her chambers if she heard anything. I’d hate to murder her mother in front of her. The Matriarch had the survival instinct her husband and daughter lacked. Even my mild tone sent terror skittering across her face. The next moment it vanished so swiftly that I wondered whether I’d imagined it. “Of course not. The truth would condemn us all now.” So she would live. My muscles relaxed. “If you’re here,” she said darkly, “then you’ll make yourself useful to us. You’ll help me conceal my husband’s work before that Inquisitor inspects his chambers.” That I could do. We plunged into the Senator’s study, where the Matriarch hiked up her gown and shuffled through the debris strewn about the room—blasphemous database fragments that would instantly condemn this entire family if the Inquisitor laid eyes on them. “Quickly now,” she said, gesturing for me to start swiping them up. “I’ll take them to the incinerator—” “Don’t.” Her voice was bitter. “My husband will simply use their destruction as an excuse to acquire more. We simply need to clear these from sight for now.” She twisted her fingers in a crack in the wall, and the floor slid open to reveal a hidden compartment. Then she settled in the Senator’s chair, fanning herself with her hand as I heaved armful after armful of shattered fragments of what looked like computer debris and data chips into the compartment. The Senator passed days in here, repairing whatever he could salvage, uploading information into his personal database. He avidly read the materials and often discussed them with Sidonia. Those scientific theories, those technological blueprints. All blasphemous. All insults against the Living Cosmos. I stashed the Senator’s personal computer in with the debris, and then the Matriarch crossed to the wall again and twisted her finger in the nook. The floor slid closed. I heaved the Senator’s desk over so it covered the hidden compartment. I straightened again to find the Matriarch watching me narrowly. “You would have killed me back in the hallway.” Her glittering eyes challenged me to deny it. I didn’t. “You know what I am, madam.” “Oh yes, I do.” Her lips twisted. “Monster. I know what goes on behind those cold, soulless eyes of yours. This is exactly why Diabolics have been banned—they protect one and pose a threat to all others. You must never forget that Sidonia needs me. I’m her mother.” “And you must never forget that I’m her Diabolic. She needs me more.” “You cannot possibly fathom what a mother means to a child.” No. I couldn’t. I’d never had one. All I knew was that Sidonia was safer with me than with anyone else in this universe. Even her own kin. The Matriach loosed an unpleasant laugh. “Ah, but why even debate you on this? You could no more understand family than a dog could compose poetry. No, what matters is, you and I share a cause. Sidonia is kindhearted and naive. Outside this fortress, in the wider Empire . . . perhaps a creature like you will be the very thing my daughter requires to survive. But you will never—never—speak to anyone of what we’ve done today.” “Never.” “And if anyone seems ready to find out we’ve spared our Diabolic, then you will take care of the problem.” The very thought sent a sizzling, protective anger through me. “Without hesitation.” “Even if taking care of it”—her eyes were sharp and birdlike—“starts with yourself.” I didn’t condescend to answer. Of course I would die for Sidonia. She was my entire universe. I loved nothing but her and valued nothing but her existence. Without her, there was no reason for me to exist. Death would be a mercy compared to that.

Editorial Reviews

"Readers who love a good dystopian plot with violence, twists, and romance will enjoy this novel."