The second Nyxia book fulfilled both my hopes and fears.  Spoilers for the first book!

If you’re one of the happy few who follow me, you know that Nyxia really caught my eye when it was announced, so much so that I put it and the similar Dare Mighty Things on my list of books that could become TV series before I ever read them.  Ultimately I enjoyed both books, giving Nyxia the slight edge due to its plot being a bit tighter. 

 Nyxia tells the story of ten young adults chosen by the Babel Corporation to take part in a space mission.  They will journey to an inhabited planet and mine the seemingly magical substance known as Nyxia.  The planet, and Nyxia itself, are both secrets from the general population, and the ten recruits are shocked to learn of them.  The aliens can be hostile but as they have apparently lost the ability to procreate, they pretty much worship young people, and have agreed to protect the young recruits.

During the lengthy journey to the planet, the recruits compete against each other, as there are actually not ten slots available for the mining operation once they arrive, so some will be out of luck.  Our main character, Emmet, quickly forms a bond with Kaya, culminating in the two exploring restricted areas of the ship and coming across an imprisoned member of the alien species who lashes out, killing Kaya.

Later, Babel reveals that there is actually a separate group of ten recruits, and now all nineteen of those remaining compete against each other for the slots to join the mission.  This group is led by Morning, who quickly slides into the slot vacated by Kaya in Emmett’s life, even as they compete against each other to get as many members of their respective groups into the mission.

Now, Morning was my main problem with Nyxia.  I didn’t like that she slid into Kaya’s place (I liked Kaya much more), and she is just great at everything.  As they near the destination, the groups are pitted against each other in races, and Morning pretty much tells Emmet that there is no way her group will lose as long as she is there.  Which leads to a kind of fun moment when, at the beginning of one of the races, Emmet jumps over to the other group, grabs Morning and leaps off, taking them both out of the equation for that race, leading to his group getting the win.  And while she’s angry, Morning overall handles it rather well, as she has already demonstrated that she will do whatever it takes to help her group win, and doesn’t blame Emmet for doing the same.  So she gets some points there, but I still just didn’t care much for her and was concerned about what was going to happen with Morning in the second book.

So what does happen?  Well, I overall enjoyed the second book, but it wasn’t quite up to the same level as the original.  And one of the main reasons for this is the fact that, in my opinion, Morning is pretty much the Mary Sueiest Mary Sue who ever Mary Sued.

One of the most frustrating examples of this happens near the start of the novel, when Isadora, one of Emmet’s fellow recruits and a main villain of book one, confronts Emmet in front of the others  about the events at the very end of the first book.  When Emmet showed up to launch for the planet, he found Roathy, Isadora’s lover and accomplice, waiting for him.  Babel had given him the chance to take Emmet’s spot on the mission, if he could kill Emmet.  It seemed that even if they didn’t fight, one of them would have to die when the other launched for the planet, but Emmet used Nyxia to keep Roathy alive.  And that’s the end of book one.

Isadora confronts Emmet about Roathy’s presumed death, openly admitting that Roathy had been there to kill Emmet.  And somehow, four member s of Morning’s old team (henceforth to be known as the four stooges) think that Emmet defending himself makes him a murderer.   Then there is Anton, another member of Morning’s group, who just a few pages earlier had confessed to Morning and Emmett that he killed Bilal.  Bilal had been placed to challenge Anton by Babel, and though Bilal did nothing to stop Anton, Bilal was killed when Anton launched.  Anton had been clear that he wanted to be upfront about the incident, and not try to keep it secret.  But here he stays silent.

Also silent as Isadora accuses Emmet are the old members of Emmet’s group, who all know that Isadora and Roathy are untrustworthy people who were plotting against Emmet for some time, but they choose not to say anything.  To be fair, we get a brief moment later on where one of them tells Emmett that they did defend him before he showed up, but during the actual scene they say nothing.

The only person who steps up and defends Emmett is of course, Morning.  And as far as I can tell, the scene doesn’t make sense in any way except as a way to shill how wonderful she is, and no matter that everyone else has to hold the idiot stick to make it happen.  And for the rest of the book Morning is just always there, being gushed over by the others or smugly proclaiming herself how unbeatable she is, and sometimes swooping in to steal the thunder after another character has a big moment.  I appreciate the idea of the character, making MC Emmet essentially just one of the guys while a supporting character is the real “prodigy/chosen one”, but in practice I’d rather spend time with any of the other characters instead.

Actually, scratch that.  As much as I didn’t care for Morning, the four stooges were worse. I was pretty much done with the four of them after they ridiculously sided with Isadora, which is a bit of a problem since two of them end up having subplots that work best if you feel sympathy for them.  Another one is just kind of there, and the fourth disappears with Isadora, who is taken to the alien’s ultimate leaders when they realize she is pregnant, leaving Emmet concerned that Isadora is building a group of allies amongst their hosts.  All that happens with her in this book is that we learn she and her lover (who was also given the chance to kill in order to win a trip to the planet, but was killed instead) were apparently homophobic bigots. 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m still eager to see how the series concludes, and will be keeping an eye on any future Scott Reintgen books.  Morning and the four stooges are drawbacks, but Nyxia Unleashed was still almost as good as the first book, and leaves me eager to see what will happen with all the other characters in the finale. 

Published by Andrew Clendening