The Diabolic, Book 1

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Diabolic, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Deadly female bodyguard stars in smart, surprising sci-fi.

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Kids say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Stands out for positive messages.

Educational Value

The Diabolic explores the question of nature versus nurture as its main character struggles to define herself as human or other.

Positive Messages

Our upbringing is not our destiny. Hurt people can heal and develop empathy for others.

Positive Role Models

In The Diabolic, Nemesis starts off as a cold-blooded killer, ready to destroy anyone who threatens Sidonia. Gradually, she accepts the kinder, gentler aspects of herself and learns to curb her destructive instincts. Nevertheless, she generally believes that the ends justify the means.


The Diabolic contains scenes of violence, including a fight to the death between Diabolics, a murder by poisoning, and a missile attack. Two villainous characters attempt to sexually assault Nemesis after giving her drugged wine.


Nemesis and Tyrus develop a romantic attraction toward each other, resulting in passionate embraces that surprise them both. Nemesis describes her emotions but rarely her physical responses.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult characters use drug-laced ointments for recreational use. Nemesis is offered some drugged wine, which she eventually forces on her enemies.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Diabolic is science fiction novel by S.J. Kincaid, about a genetically engineered living weapon who learns what it means to be human. Nemesis, the protagonist, starts the book as a quick-to-kill personal bodyguard, but she gradually learns to control her homicidal impulses. The book contains scenes of violence -- a duel to the death, an attempted sexual assault -- but they tend to be short and not overly graphic in their descriptions. Sexual content is limited to a few passionate embraces. Characters use recreational opiates mixed with body ointments.

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Teen, 13 years old Written bybooksforever21 January 2, 2019

Really good book...

I think that this was a really good book. The plot was really interesting, though it was a little slow in the beginning. This book is pretty gory, but I think i... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byNemesis December 11, 2017

One if the best ya books ever!

I think it's a superb, thrilling dystopian novel for teens with just the required twist of romance. Recommend it to any teen who loves sci-fi, dystopian wo... Continue reading

What's the story?

At the start of THE DIABOLIC, Nemesis has been raised to be a living weapon, totally committed to the safety of Sidonia, the teen daughter of a galactic Senator. When Sidonia is summoned by the insane Emperor to appear at his court, Nemesis must take her place to protect her. Practically invincible in battle, Nemesis still miscalculates the treachery of the Emperor and his family. In order to save herself and her beloved, she must learn to temper her killer instincts with kindness and empathy.

Is it any good?

Questions of nature vs. nurture play out in unexpected and entertaining ways in this sci-fi tale of a futuristic killing machine who grows a heart. With The Diabolic, author S.J. Kincaid does a first-rate job of setting up plot twists and executing them with precision. Her characters -- from Nemesis to the future emperor Tyrus to Sidonia -- are offbeat and well developed, and her depiction of intrigue in a galactic empire is nuanced.

In a time of bloated sagas that extend to three or more volumes, it's refreshing to read a stand-alone adventure with a propulsive plot and a supremely memorable main character. Fans of high-impact galactic intrigue will eat this one up.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Diabolic addresses the question of what it means to be human. How can you develop empathy for other people after having been mistreated as a child?

  • How is violence used in The Diabolic? Is it sometimes required to effect a desired outcome? When is it morally justifiable?

  • How do politics shape the action of The Diabolic? How are people able to rebel against an unjust government?

Book details

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For kids who love science fiction and dystopian novels

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