Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Book Review - Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Nyxia follows Emmet Atwater, a down-on-his luck teenager from Detroit. Recruited by the mysterious Babel company into entering a mission to mine the substance Nyxia on the hidden planet Eden, he soon learns that he must fight to keep his place in the mission by competing against the other recruits on board the Genesis 11. Ten have been invited to go to Eden, but only eight will make the final cut.

The plot for this was so much fun. At first glance it appears to be a space version of The Hunger Games with young people fighting for survival. However, as the story progresses it goes beyond this, as the concept of the Nyxia substance is developed further and the secrets about the mysterious Babel company begin to unravel. I loved that when Nyxia is first introduced we see it as a rather bland black substance that can change shape under the wielders will, but develops into this incredibly dangerous 'semi-conscious' element. It changed the view of the game entirely, and added more suspense to the story above and beyond simply teenagers fighting it out.

The world building is also excellently done. Enough background is explained as the 'competition' progresses, and more examples of life on Eden are introduced into the training that I wasn't confused. However, enough of the mystery remained in the story so that I didn't get bored either. I would have liked more interaction, or explanation, about the local inhabitants of Eden however (the Adamites). I felt we were sort of left hanging with regards to what they actually are, and have the capacity to do, other than their hatred of human adults. I also would have liked to have had some more time exploring the secrets of the Babel company other than the repeated assumption that they thrive on greed and an inexplicable need to harvest more Nyxia. It is hinted that they don't fully know what Nyxia is, although extensive 'tests' have been carried out. More time going into a deeper explanation of what these 'tests' were would have been good, although I did enjoy the air of mystery that surrounded the company. 

The ten individuals on board Genesis 11 were well developed enough that I became deeply engaged in their actions, and I enjoyed the camaraderie and changing dynamics within the group as they became a dysfunctional (sometimes murderous) family. I was impressed with how multilayered the story actually was, as it began to develop upon the mistrust first ingrained and encouraged in the recruits in the beginning by Babel, and then manifested later as more new characters are introduced. 

This introduction of more new characters half way through the novel is a clever move. It helped keep the story from going stale, and continued to change the dynamics of the characters and introduced more challenges. I especially liked the rather enigmatic Morning, although I found her instant trust in Emmet rather out of character as she's suppose to be deeply loyal to her team members.

Emmet, as our lead character, was charismatic and likeable. In the beginning he knows his limitations, and is shown to work hard to achieve his goals. He's also hot tempered and mistrustful of some of the other recruits at first, while forming strong bonds with others - such as Kaya and Bilal. I especially liked that he knew when he was wrong and admitted his mistakes - such as apologising to Jamie later on in the book when he realises he was wrong about him.The only thing I didn't like was the romantic aspect of the story involving Emmet. It felt forced and unnecessary. I also didn't really understand Roathy and Isadora and their persistent vendetta, although the conclusion did try to wrap up their feelings well. Bilal, by comparison, provided the perfect compliment to Emmet as the sympathetic and deeply moral recruit. He was by far my favourite character.

The interlude chapter in the middle of the novel was interesting, as it was nice to see the story from another characters perspective. However, it also felt a little out of place and didn't really add much to the story at all. I also didn't like the fact that most of the mystery's introduced in the novel were never concluded - a problem I find with most 'trilogies'. I was also disappointed that we didn't get a proper glance at Eden. All this time is spent building up the planet, and we never even get to spend anytime on it.

That said, I still thought Nyxia ended up being a high action space race, with plenty of twists and young adult drama to keep me entertained. Near the end, I couldn't put it down as I sped through to find out who would make the cut. I'm looking forward to the sequel.

 - 4 stars

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