Monday, August 21, 2017

Book Review: Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1)

Release Date: September 12, 2017
Author: Scott Reintgen
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Length: 384 pages
Source: Penguin First To Read Program

Every life has a price in this sci-fi thriller that has the nonstop action of The Maze Runner and the high-stakes space setting of Illuminae. This is the first in a new three-book series called the Nyxia Triad that will take a group of broken teens to the far reaches of the universe and force them to decide what they're 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.


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.



Protagonist: Emmett Atwater is given a once in a lifetime opportunity to voyage through space to a newly discovered habitable planet where he will be tasked with mining an ultra-rare and expensive material called Nyxia. First, though, he needs to secure his place while onboard the Genesis 11, against a diverse group of teens with backgrounds and pasts similar to him. Only eight out of ten will land on Eden, and Emmett will do whatever is necessary to be one of them. On the whole, I liked Emmett's character. I did feel like some of his character development wasn't quite earned, though that might be more because the author does jump forward in time quite a bit so while we see defining moments, we don't always see a good aftermath and results of those defining moments. There were also a few quirks that Emmett has during the first part of this story that nearly disappear, only to reappear without any preamble or solid explanation toward the end that really bothered me.

World Building: I love the world building in this book. I've sort of started to become a sucker for sci-fi and this story definitely scratches that itch. The way that Nyxia is introduced and all of the intricacies of the material that are discovered over the course of this story are incredible. The competition aspect of this story is fairly text book, but how the contestants treat it isn't quite as predictable. I did really enjoy all of the aspects to the competition. It isn't just one challenge but many that this group is forced to compete in and each challenge will test their mastery of Nyxia, the environment on Eden, as well as their endurance and strength. Overall, I really enjoyed the world building for this story and while there is an extremely diverse cast of characters, I'm in no position to comment on how well represented they are, I didn't find anything I would think of as misrepresentation or offensive, but again I'm in no position to adequately give feedback.

Predictability and Writing: So, my biggest problem with this story is the writing. I appreciate the author trying to subvert all of these common tropes that he includes in this story, but unfortunately, it felt that how he went about subverting these tropes that ended up shifting the normal story structure. Now, not all story structures are exactly the same, but when you boil the most successful ones down there is a similar pattern of climaxes and cooldowns and where certain elements are introduced, and at least for me that's not something that should be subverted, since I've rarely seen a subverted story structure work out very well. There are sections of the story that I love, but there were moments that should have packed more of a punch where I had a similar feeling to the age old "show don't tell" advice where I know I was shown, but given how the story structure worked out, I felt like I was told. There are also characters in this story that do things that don't quite make sense, things feel forced in order to progress the plot that I never fully understood. As for how predictable this book is, since (and I'm starting to feel like a broken record here) the story structure is so off for me, I wasn't able to predict a majority of the twists but as I said earlier, a lot of them didn't pack the punch I felt they were supposed to.

Ending: So the ending is actually something that I wasn't sure about, but after mulling it over I really liked how everything went down. As the end neared, I didn't really notice that there wasn't a big final climax, I mean there's something that could have been, but since (again broken record) the story structure was off I didn't notice it. Then, right at the end, there's this fantastic scene that I can't talk too much about because it's a really twisted scene and it needs to be experienced fully, but it's so good. There isn't really a cooldown period after, but I also didn't feel a cliffhanger vibe from the ending because it ends right where I expected it too, so since I was waiting for it, it didn't hit me as a cliffhanger would, but I don't mind since I'd rather not wait in agony for the next book.


I did really enjoy this book. The world building is phenomenal and there are elements to the story that are incredibly compelling, but I did feel some problems mainly with the story structure and how the author went about subverting some classic tropes. Some moments fell flat when I know they should have had more impact. That being said though, I will be back for Book 2.


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