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.)