Set in distant space in a galactic empire, The Diabolic is narrated by Nemesis, a humanoid teenage girl born and bred to be a weapon. Her only job is to protect Sidonia, a senator’s daughter, which she will do at any cost. When Sidonia’s father is suspected of treason, the Emperor orders Sidonia to the capital as a hostage, but Nemesis goes in her place. Upon arrival, Nemesis quickly makes enemies, but she also forms a shaky alliance with the enigmatic Tyrus, who is playing his own dangerous political game. After a tragedy, Nemesis must put her life—and the fate of the empire—into the hands of people she doesn’t fully comprehend.
Nemesis isn’t the most compelling character here. That distinction goes to Tyrus, who has been brought up in a royal household lorded over by a ruthless grandmother akin to King Richard III. His methods of survival and his ability to strategize are impressive, leaving readers to wonder if he can really be trusted.
Like a Primanti Brothers sandwich, there’s a lot stuffed inside the covers of this book: political sabotage, intergalactic travel, planetary negotiations, chemical warfare, feminism, murder, romance and religion. This isn’t science fiction with an emphasis on science, even though a major theme of the book is how the empire manipulates religion and withholds technology in order to subjugate its people. It’s an ambitious page-turner fueled by plot twists, character deaths and high-stakes action.
Kimberly Giarratano is the author of Grunge Gods and Graveyards, a young adult paranormal mystery.