“Nyxia” Book Review
Nyxia is the debut novel of Scott Reintgen, and the blurb on the front cover describes the book as “A high octane thriller… Nyxia grabs you from the first line and never lets go:” A statement which, I’m happy to report, is mostly accurate.
It’s the future, and humanity has discovered space travel, as well as a whole new planet called Edin. Emmett Atwater, along with nine other teenagers from around the world are selected to travel to Edin and meet the titular Nyxia. But once they get on board, the teens learn that they will be scored in grueling and elaborate games, and only the top eight will continue onto Edin. Emmett is not about to give up the massive paycheck he gets for mining the Nyxia however—not when his Mother’s health, and possibly life, is on the line.
I like this book a lot. Emmett is a great protagonist, and the rest of the competitors are solid characters in their own right. One of the genius things about the story is that it’s the top eight out of ten who get to go onto Edin. It’s counterintuitive, but this ends up creating more tension because Emmitt can lose. The dynamic between the competitors gets more and more intense as the ship gets closer to Edin, and it’s ever changing as well. Characters like Longwei and Morning, who seem as if they are going to end up being one note villains, truly do have more to them once things start changing.
I could never predict where the plot was going, and every time I thought I had the story figured out, something came out of nowhere and changed everything. This works most of the time, but not always. There’s one moment about two thirds of the way through the book that comes completely out of nowhere. The author then throws in a bunch of new characters in a cast that’s already pretty sizable. It can be hard to remember names since A) these characters don’t open up immediately and about half of them aren’t super relevant early in the book, and B) they’re all foreign names, which makes it harder to remember. I’ll definitely give points for diversity, and there’s a pretty equal balance of the genders. In theory. There are still only around four girls that actually do stuff.
Nyxia reminds me a lot of the Sci Fi classic, “Ender’s Game,” mainly because it’s a group of kids playing physical games in order to train to fight aliens. Nyxia sets itself apart from “Ender’s Game” with more fighting rather than strategizing. Emmitt isn’t as much of a thinker as Ender is, but he could definitely win in a one on one fight. Especially considering the Nyxia. I wish this was used more creatively: Nyxia can be manipulated into whatever the user wants just by touching it. It’s like Green Lantern’s power ring. But unlike that, it doesn’t have any need to charge. But fights in Nyxia are short, brutal, and often leave the loser pretty badly hurt. Nyxia is just used as a way to give the fighters any weapon they want for a fight. Except guns. I’m just now realizing that no one ever used a gun in this book. I wish there was more thought put into it. What exactly are its limits, how does a small amount of Nyxia limit you compared to a big amount, what weapons are most effective with a small amount of it, and how can you adapt on the fly with it? Instead, Emmitt just uses metal gauntlets for most of the book.
Another reason why I was reminded of Ender’s Game was because of the subplot about Emmitt losing his humanity and maybe turning into a killer. It doesn’t affect the main plot much, and Emmitt goes a bit too far in the other direction. Do not leave the people who were trying to repeatedly murder you alive when they are going to be with you for the next several days, my dude. There’s also a bit about how Babel, the corporation that’s responsible for everything, is corrupt and hiding something. If you can name a single cooperation in Science Fiction that isn’t doing something evil, or at least morally questionable, I would be impressed. Some of these subplots are probably going to be continued in future books, so I can’t say how well they’ll work there.
Despite my issues with it, I had a great time with Nyxia. It has one of my favorite protagonists in recent memory, the action is fantastic, and the plot is pretty clever. This one is a must read for any fan of Science Fiction. (9/10)