Publisher: Crown Books
Release: September 12th 2017
Received: Penguin First to Read
I received an advanced digital copy of this through the Penguin First to Read program, in exchange for an honest review.
I was really excited when I heard about Nyxia – the cover art is absolutely stunning, and the description made it sound interesting. While reading I found it reminiscent of a couple of other books, such as Ender’s Game and Hunger Game, just to give you an idea of the tone of the book (though the plot itself is what made me think of Ender’s Game).
I’ll confess that I felt slightly let down by this book – I was just so excited when I got my copy I couldn’t wait to read through it. Yet the first thirty percent or so I found myself struggling to stay attached to the characters and plot. Once I got past that point I found myself a bit more hooked, but that disappointed lingered and sort of set the tone for my reading experience.
The novel ended up being more of an introspective look at humanity and what it’s capable of more than a space/alien novel; how far each person is will to go or not go in order to obtain their personal goals. Who they’re willing to cross, hurt, or betray in the process.
Ironically, the namesake of the book is not the planet everyone is headed towards – but instead is the material they wish to harvest from it. Nyxia is pretty much a magical substance; it can create better tech, fuel, weapons, you name it. Oh, and the user can form and reform it with their minds. Not even kidding. So you can see why a corporation would want their hands on this stuff. I actually would have loved to see more about this substance (though admittedly I suspect that’s being saved for later in the series).
Basically, this big corporation (Babel – yes the religions implication is intentional) is sending a bunch of kids to Babel (the planet, not the corporation) because of reasons, where these kids are then to mine as much Nyxia as possible. To add to the tension though, they’re going to pit them all against each other – only eight out of the ten will be allowed to go planetside (did I mention the buttloads of money they’d be getting if they go?). More and more twists and turns are thrown at them as time goes on, just to further complicate things and make everyone more desperate.
Side note: It’s really hard to take a book seriously when the head of their corporation is named Dafou. I kept hearing Marshall (from How I Met Your Mother) saying “Willem. DaFAU!” in my head. Every. Single. Time. So needless to say that broke the fourth wall a little bit for me, though it’s really not the fault of the author in this case. I’m just weird.
One of the positive things worth commenting on was the way Emmett worked his way through puzzles and problems. Seeing his unique perspective and thought process, particularly when up against all odds, was pretty interesting to see. I think if more of this had been highlighted I would have enjoyed it so much more. Emmett is a really well designed character, all things considered.
As I mentioned above – Nyxia really reminded me of a few other books, as well as a movie or two. Ender’s Game is an obvious one – it’s about a bunch of youths fighting it out between each other in order to get the best scores (and good scores equate to reaching their goals), while simultaneously being in space. Unfortunately Nyxia didn’t have that many zero gravity scenes (really, it just had the one), so that’s where the comparison ends. The Hunger Games reference is probably also self-explanatory, though in this case I felt that the writing style was also similar.
I also felt slightly reminded of Avatar – the big bad corporations are coming in to mine everything good (read: Nyxia) off an inhabited planet. In this case they haven’t actually landed on the planet yet, but based on the Adamite being held prisoner, I think we have a pretty good idea of the intended treatment for these aliens.
I guess what I’m trying to say with all my comparisons is that while Nyxia did ultimately hold my attention; I never felt that anything groundbreaking was being written. I know that sounds really harsh, but I simply mean that the book kept reminding me of other things, rather than standing on its own. Since the book improved more as time went on, I’ll probably give book two a try when it comes out, though I can’t say I’ll be as excited as I was previously.