He killed me. He killed me not. He killed me.
It’s been happening since Min was eight. Every two years, on her birthday, a strange man finds her and murders her in cold blood. But hours later, she wakes up in a clearing just outside her tiny Idaho hometown—alone, unhurt, and with all evidence of the horrifying crime erased.
Across the valley, Noah just wants to be like everyone else. But he’s not. Nightmares of murder and death plague him, though he does his best to hide the signs. But when the world around him begins to spiral toward panic and destruction, Noah discovers that people have been lying to him his whole life. Everything changes in an eye blink.
For the planet has a bigger problem. The Anvil, an enormous asteroid threatening all life on Earth, leaves little room for two troubled teens. Yet on her sixteenth birthday, as she cowers in her bedroom, hoping not to die for the fifth time, Min has had enough. She vows to discover what is happening in Fire Lake and uncovers a lifetime of lies: a vast conspiracy involving the sixty-four students of her sophomore class, one that may be even more sinister than the murders.
Description taken from Goodreads.
TL:DR; For everyone looking into Nemesis because they loved the Virals series (or maybe even the Bones series), you should try something different. Nemesis has a great premise, but that’s all it has, like the ideas are trying to make up for the lack of a plot. The writing is recognizable and, altogether, not that bad. It is a little choppy, but it has the same kind of tone as the Virals series. Unfortunately, having the same tone and character doesn’t constitute eloquence, and Virals is written far better than Nemesis.
Before I start, I think it’s important to mention that I was a huge fan of the Virals series. It helped me get into thrillers, and the first book was on my favorites list for several years. When I first heard about Nemesis, I was so excited that I tweeted about it. These were the reason why I chose to go to Brendan Reich’s writing workshop at Cavalcade West even though there were so many impressive authors there (and he’s pretty funny and laid-back, so if you ever get the chance to go to one of his signings or events, do it).
I wanted Nemesis to be great. It just didn’t do it for me.
The beginning starts off well. The asteroid is coming, it’s been established that Min dies on her birthday, and there are some great flashback scenes to help us sympathize with her.
Unfortunately, that means that the promise of the premise is fulfilled within the first 100 pages, give or take twenty. Everything we knew about the book going in has been checked off before we get even a fourth of the way in. I feel that this is dangerous in the vast majority of fiction books because the reader only has artificially construed expectations left, where they think or hope that the book will go, and it’s too easy to fall short of those expectations just because what an author writes can’t be exactly what every/any reader is thinking. On the flip side, if a vague outline of the plot, going out through the middle of the book or so, is given, then most readers cracking the book open will have dedicated that far into the story just by agreeing to try the book based off the premise.
I think leaving readers hanging was a part of what drastically slowed down the plot and made it very apparent early on that not much else was going to happen except petty drama, a few secrets being revealed, and arguments between the main characters.
One of the things I loved most about the Virals series was how perverse and complex the social structure was between these friends, even the supporting characters. There were mean girls and there were rich boys, and they had their stereotypes, but it was like their stereotypes were masks. As the series progressed, the masks were peeled off layer by layer to create something intricate and masterful. There was none of that in Nemesis. The mean girls are just mean girls, the rich boys are just rich boys, no matter how it may seem. I was really disappointed by that, but I was given a little bit of hope at the end in the twist that came with Noah. I’d like to see how his character changes in the sequel based off the changed circumstances in the first.
Overall, it was all very… anticlimactic. The tension was teased out for too long to a too disappointing conclusion, the urgency was lost in the rambling, and the characters made little to no impression on me. In the end, I didn’t truly care about them. They didn’t have depth or individual flavor, and while there were pockets of the great writing seen in Virals, much of it was wearing or grating like being in the car with a driver who can’t stop smoothly. Instead of this, I would recommend James Dashner’s Maze Runner series. It’s different setting-wise, but the overarching idea is similar, and Dashner’s writing and pacing execute the idea better. 1.5 stars.