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Kids’ Book of the Week: The Empress by S.J. Kincaid

November 22, 2017

Did you read The Diabolic in 2016? No? Well, after hearing about The Empress, you’re going to want to rush out and settle in for the long haul…

The Diabolic series is a much-needed addition to the dearth of YA fiction right now. Red Queen meets Hunger GamesThe Diabolic explores femininity, humanity, and power – with some pretty awesome fight scenes thrown in.

When a senator’s daughter is taken hostage by the power-mad Emperor, threatened by Sidonia’s father’s rumoured rebellion, he has no idea that he hasn’t taken the senator’s daughter at all. Instead, he’s taken Nemesis, one of the galaxy’s most ruthless killing machines.

Nemesis is a Diabolic. Genetically engineered as protectors, Nemesis is expected to give her life to protect her charge – and take lives if that is what it takes. So when Sidonia is taken hostage, Nemesis takes her place in disguise. She’d do anything to protect Sidonia, and would gladly kill to do so – it’s what she was created to do. But in The Diabolic, Nemesis realises that perhaps she’s not as inhuman as she thought, and there are other things to her beyond killing.

Although The Diabolic was originally written to be a stand alone novel, author S.J. Kincaid just couldn’t leave behind Nemesis and Tyrus, the Emperor’s nephew. So: The Empress. Set immediately after The Diabolic, Tyrus has claimed the throne from the mad Emperor, and his love, Nemesis, is by his side. They’re devoted to making technology accessible for everyone, and helping the Diabolic to be seen as actual people, but the more conservative and religious amongst the political elite have a problem with that…

Technology, after all, is just for the ruling class, and Diabolic will never be people – how can they, when they were genetically engineered to be killing machines without empathy? Nemesis and Tyrus have a hard time convincing the people that Nemesis has a right to be Empress, and with assassination attempts and dissent, they’re beset on all sides.

So beset that when a new enemy rises from the shadows, they didn’t see it coming – and are caught by deadly surprise…

The Empress isn’t a simple YA novel – there’s a lot to tackle here. S.J. Kincaid boldly explores the very dimensions of what it means to be human, and we have to say, it will surprise you. Because the thing is – Nemesis isn’t human, plain and simple. She’s different from us. So how do you reconcile her difference with her similarities? It’s an issue that S.J. Kincaid tackles, asking some hard questions.

She’s also not afraid to explore the downsides of a grand romance – The Empress isn’t just boy-meets-girl and everyone lives happily ever after. For young people reading the book, it’s a great tone to take. Life isn’t just simple, and S.J. Kincaid shows that while romance is great, it’s not the be-all end-all of who you are.

The Empress is pacy, intelligent, and thrilling. Set in a dystopian world, it’s easy to think you’ve read something like this before. But trust us – you haven’t. We’re already waiting on the edges of our seats for the next.

We recommend The Empress for ages 14 and up.

About the Author

S.J. Kincaid originally wanted to be an astronaut, but a dearth of mathematical skills turned her interest to science fiction instead. Her debut novel, Insignia, was shortlisted for the Waterstones prize. Its sequels, Vortex and Catalyst, have received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Booklist. She’s chronically restless and has lived in California, Alabama, New Hampshire, Oregon, Chicago, and Scotland with no signs of staying in one place anytime soon.

Grab a copy here


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