Octavia has only ever had one goal: to follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a prestigious whitecoat, one of the scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. The secrets of the jungle’s exotic plants and animals are protected fiercely in the labs by the Council of N’Terra, so when the rules suddenly change, allowing students inside, Octavia should be overjoyed.
But something isn’t right. The newly elected leader of the Council has some extremist views about the way he believes N’Terra should be run, and he’s influencing others to follow him. When Octavia witnesses one of the Faloii—the indigenous people of Faloiv—attacked in front of her in the dark of night, she knows the Council is hiding something. They are living in separate worlds on a shared planet, and their fragile peace may soon turn into an all-out war.
With the help of Rondo, a quiet boy in class with a skill for hacking, and her inquisitive best friend, Alma, Octavia is set on a collision course to discover the secrets behind the history she’s been taught, the science she’s lived by, and the truth about her family.
****Huge thank you to HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!****
Trigger Warning: Animal Abuse & Experimentation
This book really surprised me in the best possible way, I was not expecting to love it this much!
“A Conspiracy of Stars” is a bit slow to start as it slowly introduces us to the characters and the planet of Faloiv, however, world building and plot were definitely enough to keep my interest regardless of the slower pacing. The pacing and action really does pick up in the second half of the book though, there were some great twists!
As I mentioned there are some pretty great twists in this story, although many of them I found to be predictable but that didn’t make them any less enjoyable! However, the main focus of the story is on Octavia and her friends who are interns in the labs studying the local fauna. That’s all I want to really say since I don’t want to spoil anything! And that cliffhanger at the end was awesome and I will definitely be anticipating the sequel!
The world building was absolutely fantastic in this book, it’s very unique and creative but I would say it’s safe to compare it to Avatar (the movie, not the Last Airbender!) with the native people, Faloii, and native plants and creatures. I was enthralled with the planet of Faloii, there was a lot of detail and thought put into it and I really can’t wait for the sequel so I can learn more!
However, since a lot of the book focuses on the human settlers on Faloiv and their scientific experiments it can get very emotional at times. Some of the scientists are cruel and subject these poor creatures to cruel experiments, it’s heart-breaking. That being said there are good characters that do everything in their power to help though.
I also thought the writing flowed well and was very descriptive, although it would have been nice to get some more character description.
While I really liked the characters in this story I just felt like they were a little…distant at times. I do think that Octavia especially could have used a bit more personality as the main character and the side characters could have used a little more development too.
Octavia and her friends, in general, were all pretty likable and sweet. They must be protected at all costs because of their adorableness! I thought the friendships were portrayed positively and well, they were all very loyal to each other.
Even with the lack of character descriptions there were some hints at diversity in the characters too, such as many characters being described as having brown skin and one character who has two dads.
There is a bit of romance in this book and it definitely doesn’t take the spotlight at all, which is nice especially in YA. It’s also more slow burn and develops from a friendship, they were pretty cute!
What I Loved:
- World building
- Plot was interesting
- The writing was good
- Bit of diversity
- Well portrayed friendships
- Cute, slow burn romance that doesn’t take over the plot
What I Didn’t Love:
- Slower pacing
- Characters could have used a bit more complexity
I highly, highly recommend checking this book out! It’s beautifully written and is an incredibly unique YA Sci-Fi that really breaks the mold in my opinion.
****SPOILERS FOR “THE DIABOLIC” BELOW!****
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?
**** Huge thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!****
**** All of my reviews are spoiler free but if you haven’t read “The Diabolic” you may not want to continue. If you have read it then continue as you will not be spoiled here!****
Right when I didn’t think S.J. Kincaid could blow my mind any more, she did it again! I think it’s safe to say my mouth was open, jaw on the floor the entire time I was reading and that I’m also dying for the third book now. I NEED IT NOW! Prepare for a review that will probably mostly be me fangirling.
If you were worried, like me, that “The Diabolic” should have remained a standalone and the sequel wouldn’t live up to it: don’t be worried. I was very satisfied with this book and now I’m happy that it turned out to be a series because what would I do if I didn’t have more of Nemesis?! I think this one is equally as enjoyable as “The Diabolic” but parts also weren’t as great, however, seeing as how we really waste ZERO time setting anything up it was better in that sense. Kincaid throws us right into the nitty gritty immediately.
Extremely fast pacing, I’m talking about the kind of pacing where you can’t turn the pages fast enough to keep reading! I am a sucker for fast pacing and “The Empress” did not disappoint whatsoever, as I mentioned we are thrown into a breakneck speed at the start and it doesn’t let up until the last page. There wasn’t a single dull or boring moment!
And the twists! The twists! There are so many ridiculously good twists in this book and I fell for every single one! At one point during the story I think there were about 3 major twists on ONE PAGE. So yeah you definitely will not be bored with this book! There is a ridiculous amount of action and I felt so many emotions while reading, mostly I got so enraged by the antagonist that I wanted to crawl into the book and pummel him…but hey that’s how you know they’re doing their job and the author is a fantastic writer!
I also really, really enjoyed that Kincaid expanded a lot more on the world building for this series, seeing as how in “The Diabolic” we didn’t get much. It’s definitely really interesting and also a bit of a shocker too!
If you’re a fan of political intrigue, you’ll definitely love this. Trust me. Trust me!
Kincaid’s writing packs the usual punch, and by that I mean it was fantastic and made me an emotional roller coaster the entire time I read this book.
Also that cliffhanger ending will destroy you so be prepared!
Really the only characters I continued to love were Nemesis and Tyrus and that’s simply because they’re really the only characters with any substance. They’re complex and develop A TON during the course of this story and really learn their limits. They both continue to be badasses out smarting everyone, which is all I will say!
There were a couple other secondary characters that were okay and came into the story a couple of times but they weren’t very complex or developed, in my opinion. Still they were there and definitely progressed the plot…..a lot.
The antagonist was pretty dang good though too in the sense that I wanted to choke them out the entire time…..just means they were well written because that’s what the author wanted you to think!
I burn. I pine. I perish for this romance! I will always and forever be a big fan of Nemesis/Tyrus especially since I’ve been rooting for them since “The Diabolic” so of course their wonderful romance continued on in this book and made my heart happy.
Overall, I was very impressed with this sequel! Usually sequels, specifically in trilogies, suffer from middle book syndrome in which they really drag on and are mostly there to set up the last book. However, “The Empress” suffered no such syndrome! It packed a huge punch and still managed to set up the last book magnificently!
What I Loved:
- Can I say literally everything?
- Twists and political intrigue
- Fast pacing, non stop action!
- Great writing
- Great main characters
- The romance
- Did I mention plot twists?
- Great additional world building
What I Didn’t Love:
- I kind of wish the secondary characters were a bit more important, but they did serve their purpose! (hence the 4.5 instead of full 5 star rating)
If you read “The Diabolic” and enjoyed it but aren’t sure if you want to read the sequel…do it. Just do it! It’s fantastic and I promise you, you will not be disappointed!
It’s been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose alien rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn’t one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison in the collaborationist government, and Donovan’s high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guarantee him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a routine patrol goes awry and Donovan’s abducted by the human revolutionary group Sapience, determined to end alien control.
When Sapience realizes whose son Donovan is, they think they’ve found the ultimate bargaining chip . But the Prime Liaison doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son. Left in the hands of terrorists who have more uses for him dead than alive, the fate of Earth rests on Donovan’s survival. Because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another intergalactic war. And Earth didn’t win the last one . . .
**** Thank you to Scholastic for sending me a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review****
I was on and off with “Exo” a lot because there were many things I enjoyed and a few that I didn’t so I was debating between a 3 star and 3.5 star rating which in the end I decided 3.5 was a good rating since I did actually enjoy myself.
“Exo” gets into the action immediately at the start of the book with Donovan and his partner going to capture some rebel humans and Donovan getting kidnapped instead. It really grabs your attention and makes you want to read more, however, that fast pacing does NOT last. The pacing (and my interest) slowed down considerably after Donovan is captured and it all seems really boring and pointless, it took a lot of effort to make it past this point in the plot for me. This actually happened a few times so the pacing overall was very uneven.
I was also left kind of wondering what exactly the main conflict was in this book because as stated in the description Donovan is kidnapped by human revolutionaries but this is actually resolved pretty early in the story. So after that I didn’t really understand what was happening and why. Is there going to be some war between humans and aliens? Aliens versus other aliens? Who knows? I didn’t really like this free floating feeling I had through the plot….
However, I did really like that what conflicts there were in the plot weren’t black or white they were all very much in a grey area. No side is strictly good or evil, they both have their reasons for doing what they do. So I thought that was very interesting and added a lot of complexity to the story.
Also the main reason I rated this book higher than I probably would have is because of the world building, which was absolutely excellent. Fonda Lee does an amazing job of building a very complex world in which humans have been “conquered” by an alien race and now co-exist with them. There’s a caste system, different technologies, and everything from the language to the biology of the aliens is provided. There’s a lot of imaginations and detail put into this world and I very much appreciated it, even though I wanted to learn so much more! Plus there’s no info-dumping!
So we actually get a male POV in this book which I thought was a big plus since it isn’t something we normally see, especially in YA. Just a fun tidbit!
To start off I will say that all of the characters, including, Donovan were pretty flat and reading I felt very distant from them. I didn’t relate and I didn’t really care what happened to any of them because I felt I didn’t actually get to know any of them. That’s not to say I didn’t learn anything about the characters, I did learn quite a bit, I just felt that no one was really developed at all.
Donovan, however, I came to have a certain degree of respect for because he is put through absolute hell in this book but some of the actions he took were stupid and therefore annoying. That’s really all I can say for our main character.
I also found that all of the characters that received any degree of development all had a significant relationship with Donovan, any other secondary characters lacked any development or even “screen time” so to speak. Even the relationships weren’t depicted as being really strong either, they all felt really bland to me such as Donovan and his father and Jet (his BFF).
I especially felt that Donovan’s romantic interest Anya was completely unnecessary because of how underwhelming and underdeveloped it felt. I felt that this was only added for the sake of having some form of romance and I felt like asking “But why?” a lot.
Overall I did like this book even though there were times that I felt very bored and wondered if I would even finish. I think the world building is very unique and I liked the fact that this was alien-scifi because who doesn’t love aliens? I am excited to continue the series and see what happens next even though it hasn’t been confirmed yet that this is a series, with that ending there better be more though!
What I Liked:
- The world building was amazing, detailed, and imaginative
- No info-dumping
- The action parts that were fast paced were awesome
- No side in the conflict was black or white, everything’s a shade of gray
- Male POV
What I Disliked:
- Uneven pacing
- Not much character development
- Main conflict was confusing and obscure
- Romance was very underwhelming and unnecessary
This is kind of “meh” as far as recommending goes I would say if your a fan of YA science fiction or want to try out a sci-fi book that involves aliens then give this a go! It’s overall a pretty decent read.