Review: Nyxia

Nyxia coverTitle: Nyxia

Author: Scott Reintgen

Series: The Nyxia Triad #1

Genre: YA, sci-fi

Format: eARC via Netgalley

Release Date: Sept. 12th, 2017

Synopsis: 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.

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This book is a special one, my friends. I have to be honest, I was happy to be approved for this on Netgalley, but I didn’t expect to find my next top read of 2017. Much to my excitement, that’s exactly what I got.

Nyxia is the kind of YA book that raises the bar. After reading so much of one genre, you start to notice that the characters sound the same, and the writing all tells the same story (even if you still enjoy the book). But Nyxia is completely different, it’s the exact story that I look for in YA, the one that keeps me engaged and flipping pages because I have no idea where the plot is headed. Scott Reintgen’s writing sucked me in from the first page, and I’m now a die-hard fan for this series!

To get it out of the way, I will mention the only thing that I was slightly disappointed by. This book is marketed as a sci-fi, which it definitely is. But once you get past the idea that they’re on a space ship headed towards a new planet, the story reads much more like a dystopia (probably the best dystopia you’ve read in your whole life, though). I do wish that we had gotten to see more stars and rockets and traditional spacey stuff, but I have a feeling we’ll be getting tons more of that in future books.

On to the amazing stuff (there’s a lot of it, trust me)! If I had to pick one reason that this book immediately stands out for me, it’s the narration. Emmett is such a real, down-to-earth, average kid – the type of character I never feel like I get to read about at the center of a YA book. He’s not a special snowflake, he doesn’t win all the competitions, and he makes a lot of human mistakes. Even though I have very little in common with Emmett personally, I felt very strongly for him and his story. He has guts and confidence, and never lets reality get too far away from him.

“I got good people in my corner, but it’s like I’m living in a world where more people would prefer is I just sat down in a corner, took what the world gave me, and kept my mouth shut.”

But don’t worry, Emmett certainly won’t be the only character bringing out all the feels! Nyxia has one of the most AMAZING group of characters that I’ve ever read about, and, not to mention, the most diverse! I’m not just saying that for blogger brownie points – all of the kids selected for the competition come from different countries, so that we see a wide-range of cultural ideals, sexualities, traditions, even languages! You could tangibly sense how much richer the story was because of it; each character felt complex, multifaceted, and like a real human. We don’t just see names attached to a one-sided cardboard cutout based on some stereotype.

In addition to the characters’ individual identities, Reingten does a mind-blowing job at breaking those YA tropes that even the best of stories often succumb to. My personal favorite is Emmett’s friendship with Kaya, a compassionate and wicked smart girl from Japan (if my memory serves). The possibility of romance is never once on the table, their friendship is so genuine and adorable! I honestly have never read about a boy/girl friendship in YA that doesn’t at least mention the idea of romantic attraction, so this was truly a breath of fresh air!

Also, Reintgen makes it clear every kid in the competition has a family that struggles financially, some more than others. While this does serve as a plot device and character motivation, we get to see how each character deals with financial instability, or even poverty, in their own way. I don’t know about you guys, but 99.9% of the YA books I read feature a) characters with well-off families, b) a complete lack of concern for money at all, or c) characters with parents that make decent wages and never have to worry about it too much. This is not the case with Nyxia. Emmett fights so hard for the money because of what it means for his family. Their needs and the impact the money will have is never trivialized or made to seem unimportant – in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

“Spend enough time in the same old pair of jeans, and everything seems worth the risk of getting caught.”

Now, to address the issue of the competition. I know some of you may be put off by that, since the contest/fight-to-the-death trope has been used many times over, but I promise this is completely different and will knock your cozy reading socks off. First, the characters don’t degrade into annoying groups/cliques/alliances that threaten each other for petty drama (see Divergent, Hunger Games, and The Maze Runner). They actually bond and come together, there were a few scenes that made my heart warm from the inside out. That aside, THERE ARE SO MANY PLOT TWISTS. I don’t wanna say too much, but the different “games” the author came up with are like nothing else I’ve ever read and I found myself whispering aloud a few times, “This is so cool!!”

This review has gotten a little bit too long and probably a bit too spoilery, but I’ll just say that the ending is killer. Both emotionally and … otherwise. *wink* I absolutely can’t wait to get a physical copy of this amazing book, and for the release of book two!!

5 Stars

Have you read Nyxia? Is it on your list of anticipated releases? What’s some of your favorite YA sci-fi?

Thanks so much to Crown Books and Netgalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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