The Empress by S.J. Kincaid
Book Two of The Diabolic series
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Review copy sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
It’s a new day in the Empire. Tyrus has ascended to the throne with Nemesis by his side and now they can find a new way forward—one where they don’t have to hide or scheme or kill. One where creatures like Nemesis will be given worth and recognition, where science and information can be shared with everyone and not just the elite.
But having power isn’t the same thing as keeping it, and change isn’t always welcome. The ruling class, the Grandiloquy, has held control over planets and systems for centuries—and they are plotting to stop this teenage Emperor and Nemesis, who is considered nothing more than a creature and certainly not worthy of being Empress.
Nemesis will protect Tyrus at any cost. He is the love of her life, and they are partners in this new beginning. But she cannot protect him by being the killing machine she once was. She will have to prove the humanity that she’s found inside herself to the whole Empire—or she and Tyrus may lose more than just the throne. But if proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must do inhuman things, is the fight worth the cost of winning it?
What I Liked:
I. Am. Slain. Vanquished. Defeated. Here lies Alyssa, perished by the hand of S.J. Kincaid due to a particular emotion-evoking book written by said vanquisher. I don't even know how to process what I've just read. I was going along, reading the book very gamely, getting a little more anxious as it went, and then BAM! The ending. I am shooketh. (Is that what the young people say these days? I'm 22. I should know these things. I don't.)
The Empress picks up after The Diabolic left off, with Tyrus ascending the throne as Emperor, and Nemesis by his side. Many are opposed to their upcoming union, but it hasn't stopped them from making appearances together. But being in love might not be enough in the world of politics. One Senator in particular wants to manipulate and maneuver his way up, and Tyrus and Nemesis must figure out a way to stop him without outright killing him. They will fight for each other and die for each other, and this may be their downfall. All Nemesis ever wanted was to be seen as human, and to be happy with Tyrus. But the fate of the galaxy is so much bigger than her and Tyrus's love for each other. Sacrifices must be made, morals must be cast aside, and lines must be drawn. This sequel is sure to bring readers to the edge of their seats and desperate for more.
Well, it definitely had me on the edge of my seat. And I'm definitely begging for more. Where the heck are the rest of the pages?! The ending of this book was so cruel. I guess that's as good a spot as any to start with, in this review. The ending of this book is where all of the shenanigans I'd been expecting occurred. HOW does Kincaid do this to readers?! I was howling as I was reading the ending. I have no idea how the author is going to turn things around in book three (if she is going to turn things around). Do I WANT her to turn things around? Kind of? But also no? But also yes?
The pacing of this book is somewhat fast, though initially, not quite. A lot happens in the book and a lot of time passes (think on the scale of years). The author did an amazing job of making time pass, although it broke my heart a little bit (because of how the passage of time was done). It was so cool - the explanation and whatnot - but it was also sad because lost time. Nobody likes to lose time! But again, the science is really cool.
In fact the science aspect of the story in general is cool, in all parts. The time passage thing is neat but this whole story is sci-fi, set among various planets and starships and among the stars as Tyrus and Nemesis hop into hyperspace to travel across the galaxy. I love YA sci-fi, so I was really happy about how science-heavy this book was. Not enough to be off-putting to non-sci-fi-loving people, I promise!
Another heavy aspect of the book was the politics. There is a lot of politics in this book, from start to finish. A lot of negotiating, a lot of scheming, a lot of betraying, a lot of careful planning, a lot of backstabbing... a lot of everything political. Tyrus is a political mastermind, and I loved seeing his brain work. Seeing him and Senator Pasus try to outsmart and outmaneuver each other was nerve-wracking but also kind of thrilling (at least whenever Tyrus gained the upper hand).
Speaking of Tyrus, I adored him. He is so clever and "Type A", always thinking ahead and planning and overthinking. I connect with him on that level, although he is more masterminded than me. He plays the long game, and suffers as he does it, but he endures. His strength of mind and iron will are so impressive. I'm rooting for him in book three.
Nemesis is such a wonderful protagonist to follow. This book is written entirely from her first-person POV, and while I would have loved to read from Tyrus's first-person POV, it was just fine to have her narrative alone. She grows even more in this book, with having to make so many difficult decisions. She and Tyrus fight alongside each other and really learn their limits. While Tyrus is intelligent and clever, Nemesis is loyal and stubborn. I didn't love a few of her decisions, but at the same time, I put myself in her position and there is a good chance I'd do the same.
I looooove how Tyrus and Nemesis two would fight and die for each other. They prove this over and over, how willing they are to sacrifice themselves, and the extreme lengths they'd go to protect the other. I really ship this romance and I loved seeing them grow closer and closer in this book. As individuals, they are super cool and I admire them. As a couple, they are wonderful together and I ship them. Sparks really really fly and the pages heat up in this book. And they are actually together for the majority of the book, which is surprising for a second book in a trilogy. You don't ever see that (usually the couple is split up early on). I was happy to see them together with no internal couple drama between them. It's that ending though.
That. Ending. It changes everrrrrrrything. In a good and bad way. I'm so curious as to how Kincaid is going to go about book three. I'm hoping for one thing, but that thing seems impossible. But knowing our hero, and knowing our heroine, nothing is impossible.
Seriously, Tyrus is wicked smart and plans and accounts for everything. And Nemesis is kickbutt and seemingly indestructible. So. We shall see!
I'm not going to say too much about the plot because a ton of action happens in the book, whether it is flying off into space or being imprisoned or fighting narcotics (yeah, there is a lot going on). This book made me grow more and more anxious but 100% hooked and needing to know what happens next. Once I settled into the first couple of chapters, I was hooked.
If you couldn't tell, I am sooo looking forward to reading book three. I hope it is on track to be an October 2018 publication (or earlier???). Gimmee.
What I Did Not Like:
THE ENDING OKAY???
I may never recover.
Would I Recommend It:
If you read The Diabolic, you must read The Empress. Not only did it NOT disappoint me, but it is probably the first YA book in a loooong time that actually made me FEEL things like excitement and anxiety and thrill. Well, a lot of those things. I've been feeling very "meh" about YA but this book was given me life. It also drained that same life with the ending, but that's irrelevant (well not really). This sequel is exciting and thrilling and just as good as its predecessor. And it sets up really well for an intense final novel!
4.5 stars. I am so here for this third book. Also I'm terrified of it. I'm so afraid of how things will end because how else are they supposed to end?! Hopefully Kincaid does something that will make readers happy. I really don't want to rage over the final book. Pleaseeeee let me love it. I hate it when you love a series and you support it so much and then the final novel is a huge disappointment that makes you want to set things on fire!
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