Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1) by Scott Reintgen
Published by Crown Books; scheduled for September 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-fi
I was super intrigued by the premise of Nyxia, and after a reading/blogging slump after a bad mental health week, I was so excited to jump into it! It met my expectations in some areas, missed in others, so here’s a pro/con list review for you! A little different from my usual format.
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.
I thought this was a really cool concept, and I was intrigued right away. I love the space travel, the competition between kids who thought they were shoo-ins. The people who have recruited you maybe not being who they seem. I love it. And there is a lot to love about the way it was handled.
Now I want to start by saying I am in no way trying to insult anyone, at all, whatsoever. This isn’t even a con. It’s a con-ish. I immediately saw the bible references in the description, Eden, Babel, etc. I am not a religious person, and I’m not currently, particularly interested in reading biblical allegory. I asked on Goodreads, before reading, whether the story was religious, and the author answered me (which is so polite, so wonderful) and gave me a really awesome, full description saying that the story wasn’t necessarily an allegory.
There are some pretty heavy undertones, though. The story of Babel being turned upside down with the kids all coming together to speak the same language, as opposed to the opposite. Rest days being called the Sabbath. Some bible quotes. What threw me off is that this was never really explained? They’re a company called Babel, on a ship called Genesis, going to a planet called Eden, populated with people they’ve called the Adamites. That’s pretty explicit, right? But there’s no talk of why they’ve named anything the way they have. Is the Babel corporation trying to be/reach God? Idk. I’m only putting this out here in so much detail so you can see why it kind of threw me off, even though there’s nothing wrong with it.
I love an ensemble cast, as I’ve spoken about before. I did enjoy the group, watching the dynamic between them twist and change throughout. I especially love that the kids are poor, or as one character describes them all, broken. They come from messed up situations, which is how Babel has convinced them to go on the mission in the first place.
I don’t know if this is just the nature of the beast, because it’s first person from only Emmett, so we can only see through his eyes. But I didn’t get a great feel for the whole cast. It’s a decent amount of characters, but even halfway through I’d sometimes have to remind myself who one of them even was. I just didn’t care about a lot of them. With how closely Emmett interacted with them, I’d liked to have had a better feel for all of them. Especially since some of them will be returning in later books, and I know I won’t remember the characters when that time comes.
There is one point, huge spoiler so I won’t say too much, but there is a death on the ship. I should care, but I don’t. I don’t know how else to explain that. I really care about Emmett, and I care about his reactions to things, but I don’t care about the ensemble enough to care about such a huge moment, and that’s not the best.
The writing is beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous. It’s first-person, present-tense, so you really get into Emmett’s head through the whole competition. His emotions come through, loud and clear. His issues with poverty are beautiful and realistic. His constant fight to grow and change while not turning into something ugly is gorgeous to watch.
I did have some issues with the pacing. I found myself occasionally getting bored, because I like my sci-fi (at least of this nature, with spaceships and crazy new substances and other planets) to be really sci-fi, and a lot of this was character driven. Which is great in its own right, and I definitely feel connected to Emmett, so there’s that. I just found the story to move too slowly in many areas.
There are actually a few, but one big one right at the end had me yelling, which you know I love. I give props to any story that can make me make noise, and this definitely did.
Is wonderful. The whole point is pulling kids from all different backgrounds together and forcing them to speak the same language and interact regardless of culture differences. We look at poverty/brokenness from all over the world, rather than just what that looks like in America.
Overall, I think there are tons of people that would/will really enjoy this book! For me, it had its hits and misses.