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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Hardcover: 371 pages
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Release date: September 12, 2017

Series:  Nyxia Triad, #1

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

What would you be willing to risk for a lifetime of fortune?
Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.

Okay, so at last year's YALLFest (the current one is actually going on as I write this) I went to a panel all about scifi and Scott Reintgen was on it. A coworker's dad also has a connection to him, so I figured I needed to pick this book up pretty quick. It sounded interesting from his talks and the books were circulating pretty well at my library.

Two things I really liked about it:
1) My favorite character in this first book is Bilal -- he is just so nice and kind it defies logic and yet he is a decent human being. He still even comes off as human. I without a doubt loved him. Not to say I didn't like a few other characters, but it takes some time to get to know them due to them being Emmett's enemies for the most part. I also really liked Kaya, Emmett's roommate. I can't say any more about these two specific characters without spoiling the story. I'll talk about that in the next review. 2) Despite a few of the backstory/flat character issues, he really writes dialogue and multi-character interaction well. Although there are like 10-20 characters who all interact a lot with each other, they are easily kept separate and memorable. Additionally, there is a great degree of diversity here that I really appreciated. Most of it doesn't feel trope, but that you can really tell Reintgen traveled and talked with all sorts of people from different backgrounds and countries and cultures. I really loved that.

At times, it resembles The Hunger Games with its competitions and bloodthirstiness, but then there's the added individual matches plus a teamwork component that THG only picked up in Catching Fire as part of their alliance. It also bears comparison with Pierce Brown's Red Rising series with being a helldiver versus mining the nyxia. But where I would argue THG series and Red Rising series are rich and mostly original in their worldbuilding and plot, I almost felt like I had read parts of this before...

This is a book that despite its flaws, you'll probably still keep reading. It grabs you and forces you to wade through the different challenges that each member of the Genesis 11 team must overcome. I had a few issues with this book that made it just miss the mark for me. Many of the characters seem very flat and stock at times and a few of the Emmett's comments about culture or race or slang (or his mental filing system *sigh*) make this story seem like it tries too hard to make you like Emmett and care about him. The subplot and the prospect of what Babel might really be up to creates a problem of almost too much going on and yet, not enough substance to tie it together. If it had just slowed down a bit more to add in some more backstory and smoothed down some of the rough edges in transition, I think it really would be stellar. I certainly enjoyed it enough to keep reading. I think it might be suited for more middle grades and reluctant readers due to the fast pace and holes. Also,  Emmett being so old creates some conflict with the reader audience that I think will become more of an issue in later books. Still, the creation of nyxia and its capabilities is certainly very intriguing, and automatically you want to know more about the Adamites and how they use nyxia, but this must wait for the next book.

Happy Thanksgiving, United States readers!

Kara is a teen librarian living in the southeastern US with her husband (who listens to books), young daughter (who sleeps with books), and dog (who tastes the books). She loves all sorts of books, but mostly YA, and will never catch up to all of the wonderful things to read.

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