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So, You Want to be Human?

October 21, 2016
The Riveted Team
Believe In Your Shelf

Our Canadian counterparts recently organized the “So, You Want to be Human?” blog tour for three of our fave 2016 sci-fi novels: Erin Bow’s The Swan Riders (Now available in stores everywhere), Simon Curtis’s Boy Robot (On sale next week, 10/25, and you can read an extended excerpt right now), and S.J. Kincaid’s The Diabolic (On sale November 1!). They’re vastly different reads but they share a common thread in that they each feature protagonists that are almost-but-not-quite-human so fittingly, they dedicated the blog tour to what it means to be human!

The blog tour included three book blog stops where each talked about what it means to be human and championed one of the three books: Lost in a Great Book chose The Swan Riders which she called her “favourite book of the year,” Brains, Books, & Brawn, though also a huge fan of The Swan Riders, chose The Diabolic and was delighted that it lived up to all the hype, and Thoughts and Afterthoughts chose Boy Robot which he liked and would recommend, he was just frustrated at the cliffhanger ending and having to wait until the sequel (which was just announced last week) for answers!

At the conclusion of the blog tour, all three authors participated in a Twitter chat. If you missed it, follow along at

One of the best parts of the blog tour (IMHO) though was that each of three authors reviewed each other’s book! Here’s a snippet of each:

Author Simon Curtis on The Swan Riders:

Throughout the course of the books, Erin plays with the concept of humanity in subtle, brilliant ways. Reading The Swan Riders, you don’t even realize how much of Greta’s former humanity has been sacrificed until other characters begin to react to just how stark the contrast is between the new and old versions of her. A girl who was once held hostage by the mistakes of humanity, who faced the horrors of torture and death as penance for mankind’s inability to find peace, has now been forced to sacrifice herself, her love, and her very humanity in order to survive. Beyond the nightmare of coming to terms with such a sacrifice, Greta must also grapple with Talis’s approach to peace—that is, blow cities up until the humans stop fighting. Through Talis, Erin forces Greta, and the reader, to deeply consider the weight of what is necessary vs. the emotional instinct of what is right. Through Talis’s army/cult of Swan Riders, who willingly offer themselves as human vessels for Talis’s consciousness (at the expense of their own mentality), Erin forces us to wonder if consciousness itself a form of humanity? Or is it not enough to be merely conscious? Must empathy and compassion exist for a being to truly be considered human? Read more >>

Author Erin Bow on The Diabolic:

My favourite things about this book are the world building — I’m a sucker for a big, immersive world — and for its eat-it-up-like popcorn twisty political plot.   But if it has a central strength, it’s that old Philip K. Dick trick: it takes big questions like nature vs. nurture, the existence or nonexistence of freewill, and the unknowable spark that defines us as human or inhuman, and makes them literal in the plot.  For instance: is Nemesis unemotional and predatory by nature, or was she carefully trained to be that way?  Even if she was trained, does it matter, if the training can’t be broken?   There’s no medium like science fiction for asking these questions.  We can explore the boundary of what it means to be human by telling the stories of people who must cross it.  Read more >>

Author S. J. Kincaid on Boy Robot:

I think the scope of this story is truly admirable, and presented in a way that makes it stand out from a lot of YA books because it’s not confined to one point of view, or even just a few, though Isaak is the center and heart of the story… The narrative challenges the reader. It very interestingly reaches into the minds of a wide array of characters, giving the world a much broader scope than it otherwise would have had. It’s a great and ambitious narrative choice. It’s definitely a book that entertains and surprises more than a few times.  Read more >>

The Diabolicby S. J. Kincaid

Red Queen meets The Hunger Games in this epic novel about what happens when the galaxy’s most deadly weapon masquerades as a senator’s daughter and a hostage of the galactic court.

A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.

Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.

When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.

As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.

Read the first chapter of The Diabolic:

Boy Robotby Simon Curtis

There once was a boy who was made, not created.

In a single night, Isaak’s life changed forever.

His adoptive parents were killed, a mysterious girl saved him from a team of soldiers, and he learned of his own dark and destructive origin.

An origin he doesn’t want to believe, but one he cannot deny.

Isaak is a Robot: a government-made synthetic human, produced as a weapon and now hunted, marked for termination.

He and the Robots can only find asylum with the Underground—a secret network of Robots and humans working together to ensure a coexistent future.

To be protected by the Underground, Isaak will have to make it there first. But with a deadly military force tasked to find him at any cost, his odds are less than favorable.

Now Isaak must decide whether to hold on to his humanity and face possible death…or to embrace his true nature in order to survive, at the risk of becoming the weapon he was made to be.

In his debut, recording artist Simon Curtis has written a fast-paced, high-stakes novel that explores humanity, the ultimate power of empathy, and the greatest battle of all: love vs. fear.

The Swan Ridersby Erin Bow

Treacherous twists await Greta as the stakes get even higher in this stunning follow-up to the “masterful” (School Library Journal, starred review) novel, The Scorpion Rules.

Greta Stuart has become AI. New transmitters have silvered her fingerprints. New receptors have transformed her vision. And the whole of her memory has become one book in a vast library of instant knowledge. Greta is ready to rule the world.

But the new technology is also killing her.

Greta is only sixteen years old, but her new enhancements are burning through her mortal body at an alarming rate. Of course the leader of the AIs, an ancient and compelling artificial intelligence named Talis, has a plan. Greta can simply do what he’s done when the time comes, and take over the body of one of the Swan Riders, the utterly loyal humans who serve the AIs as part army, part cult.

First though, Greta will have to find a way to stay sane inside her new self. Talis’s plan for that involves a road trip. Escorted by Swan Riders, Greta and Talis set out on a horseback journey across the strange and not-quite-deserted landscape of Saskatchewan. But there are other people interested in Greta, people who want to change the world…and the Swan Riders might not be as loyal as they appear…

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