Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1)
Nyxia was published in 2017. Although I did receive an ARC from NetGalley, my review is based on the final published edition. I start my review with a quote that could be seen as a minor spoiler, so proceed with caution.
Content Warnings: blood and gore, violence, torture
Emmett Atwater agrees to leave Earth behind when Babel Communications offers him a fortune. The catch? He has to launch into deep space to get it. One of ten selected recruits, Emmett boards the company’s spaceship and sets course for a planet that Babel has kept hidden from the rest of the world.
Before long, Emmett discovers that all of Babel’s recruits have at least one thing in common: they’re broken. Broken enough that Babel can remold them however it pleases.
Every training session is a ruthless competition where friendships are tested and enemies are made. Each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden – where they will mine nyxia, a substance that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.
But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. Secrets about the volatile substance they’re hoping to mine, about the reclusive humanoids already living on Eden, and about the true intentions for the recruits.
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.
In the softer glow, I open the English version of the book Kaya read to me. Apparently I asked Vandemeer for it when I was first brought down to get stitched up. I’ve never really read on my own. Too many cousins to babysit. Too many nights watching Moms sleep on the couch. Sitting there and listening for her next breath. And the next. And the next.
I never thought of escaping into a book.
So as I read, I’m surprised how quickly the words take me from the hospital bed and into the woods. I’m the one swinging into imaginary lands on hanging ropes. I like it there. But I don’t like it when I’m the one facing the bully in the school hallways. I don’t like it when my friends leave me and I’m all alone. The words of the book echo.
Imaginative, exploratory, brutal, dangerous, exciting, speculative; Nyxia is a must-read for science fiction fans of all ages, as well as a must-read for people of Earth. What does it mean to be human? is a question that touches every part of this book, and yet the fictional narrative is not weighed down by essay-like reflection; Scott Reintgen allows his protagonist Emmett Atwater (through whom the reader experiences the story) to consider this question without watering down the action and Emmett’s thoughts about the high stakes space mission, his life back home, and about the other recruits.
The cast of characters come from all over the world, and while they have all experienced different degrees of hardship and suffering, none of them are really whole. There’s no question that their current situations are being exploited by Babel Communications, and Scott Reintgen does a great job withholding details from the reader (in addition to keeping them from the characters), and allowing for logical speculation while keeping attention directed at what is currently happening.
The author’s prose allows the story to move at a satisfying pace, and I think he depicted the adults and teenagers quite realistically, especially considering the plot and setting of the book. Electrifying emotions jump off the page, and the sting of regret isn’t just felt by the characters; everything about this book places the reader inside each paragraph.
This wouldn’t be an exciting start to a book series without a stunning ending. And Scott Reintgen delivers. A big surprise twist in the last one hundred pages still has me feeling stunned, and when I think about the one at the very end my jaw drops again. I’m quite glad that the second installment, Nyxia Unleashed has already been published; it would be excruciating to wait for it.