Thursday, February 15, 2018

REVIEW: Nyxia by Scott Reintgen - Jenn

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM

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 want to start this review off with what other books or movies I was reminded of while reading 
Nyxia. It will help to summarize and set up the remainder of my review.

***WARNING: I tried to avoid spoilers, but it was difficult and I did not succeed in the end. The spoilers here are mild, so tread carefully. You’ve been warned.***

Avatar—There is a substance on an alien planet (Eden) that humans want, and this substance represents a huge industry opportunity that will yield a lot of money and advancement in science, warfare, medicine, and much more. The natives (Adamites) of Eden prove to be physically large, strong, and skilled, a terrifying force to reckon. The humans (or at least the “bad” and “mean” humans, i.e. Babel) will do nearly anything to get at the nyxia deposits, including sending young people in because fully matured humans (ahem, adults) are too much of a threat to the aliens. Or, specifically, the adults tried to have things done their way and ended up getting their butts handed to them. However, the whole book is about the journey to Eden, so no alien planet time. As for alien time—I refuse to spoil information beyond what I’ve given regarding that aspect. 

Divergent—There is a competition among the young people to determine who gets to go down onto Eden, since there are only a limited number of young people the Adamites have agreed to allow onto the planet. The entire book goes through the trials and tribulations, the tests, the struggles and celebration as each of the young people compete to show how adept their physical, mental, and emotional skills are—this is all happening as they travel to the planet. Along the way friendships bud, enemies lurk, bodies are broken, there is homesickness and fear as they travel further from Earth, and the youngins begin to realize that their training and education is changing them. Who they were, what they believed made them them, is on the line. Self-identity and humanity become key ideas of contention for Emmett (the protagonist) and the others, because the closer they get to Eden the harder it is for them to determine who they are and what it means to be human.

• and The Hunger GamesNyxia morphs from a competition to prove standings with scores (like in Divergent) into death matches where kill-or-be-killed determines standings (ahem, The Hunger Games). Over the course of the book, I figured it would probably lead to this outcome. It only made sense that people in space would hold themselves to different laws and standards than while on Earth. However, though similar in concept, the execution was much different and OH THOSE PLOT TWISTS—I will not spoil it, I refuse!

Now onto nyxia, the substance Babel wants from Eden. I’m struggling to think of an apt comparison, but I keep coming back to this explanation I gave my boyfriend: a material that you can telepathically control; the stronger and more practiced your mind is, the easier you can control it, especially when competing with another to manipulate it; a material that is sentient and can control you as well, but there is little knowledge as to what all it can do and the dangers. He responded with: a substance imbued with the Force. That’s close, but not exact. I’ve seen some reviews where people were metaphorically defecating on the idea of nyxia, saying it was boring, or not done well, or it had been done before, or it was stupid (what an arbitrary, lackluster, over-used and ill-used word, by the way). I can’t attest to why those reviewers felt those words best described the substance, but I disagree. It was exciting to me, because there were so many opportunities that came with nyxia’s involvement in the story. It is a substance that can be turned into weaponry, architecture and protective barriers (i.e. keep their spacecraft sealed tight and reinforced, among other things), used in reconstructing broken parts of a human body, and it can be manipulated into almost anything but water (it cannot become transparent)—and that is only what we discover in this book, the first in the series. And a sentient material that can turn against you, even in the most painful and invasive of ways? What the actual what? Sign me up. I want the next book now—I’m intrigued! To me it was wild, well done, similar in basic principles to substances in other movies/books but different in how it functions and interacts, and incredibly intelligent—I mean, c’mon, nyxia is able to connect to those who manipulate it, and its incorporation almost as a character itself was interesting as hell.

My favorite aspects of this book were the writing and the depictions of characters and their relationships. There were some moments where I had to stop and re-read a line or section because the language was amazing; I had to go back and savor the words, prepared to take it all in. 

He's gasping for air, and the sound of his wheezing breaths are dying things. (page unknown at this time)

There's a heaven in him no darkness can take. (page unknown at this time)

And Reintgen depicts a family with such fullness and ease that I, an aspiring writer, am very jealous and taking notes.

“What’s your name?”
He used to ask me all this before football games. It’s a tradition, a reminder.
“Emmett Ethan Atwater,” I say.
“What’s Ethan mean?”
“What’s Emmett mean?”
“Hard worker.”
“What’s Atwater mean?”
I hitch. “You never told me that. …”
He smiles. “I don’t know either.” (page unknown at this time)

(I’m sorry that I was unprepared with quotations—I can only access the e-ARC on my home computer and I write my reviews at work. I meant to collect a few more, which I will just have to do at a later date—or maybe after the book releases!)

But guys, Reintgen’s writing is #goals for a writer. Absolute, beautiful #GOALS. He knows when and how to amp the emotion and drawback. He knows how to show what is happening with few, apt words without resorting to telling the story. (Concision is your friend when writing, y’all!) He brings in colloquialisms and makes them his own, especially since all the characters are from all around Earth and differ in their cultural backgrounds and experiences—I’m a sucker for colloquialisms, especially when incorporated well. And now to the diversity—if you’re into books showcasing diverse characters, this is a book for you. The majority of the characters are people of color and their inclusion and coming together didn’t feel wrong or forced or perverted in any way; they each had a clear goal, and that goal fueled the story. It felt so good and right to see this kind of representation. Like I said above, I’m taking notes on how I can improve my writing based upon how he has written Nyxia.

And lastly, because I could rant my praises for the remainder of the day but have other pressing matters to attend, I want you to know this: I have been experiencing the worst book hangover since finishing it. It has everything I wanted—and more—and everything I have picked up since just isn’t touching me in the same, right way. This book is perfection and had everything I needed to feel complete. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this is a good book hangover; it helped me understand just how much this book moved me and affected me. I hope it does the same for you as well.

Happy reading!


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