Nyxia Uprising by Scott Reintgen
Nyxia Uprising (2019) is the fast-paced conclusion to Scott Reintgen’s NYXIA TRIAD YA sci-fi trilogy, an adventure with several teenage protagonists. It’s set both in space and on a distant planet called Eden that has two moons, an alien race called the Imago, and an abundant supply of nyxia, a malleable mineral with near-magical powers. These three books tell a single, unified story, and it’s impossible to appreciate this series without reading all of the books in order … and here is your obligatory spoiler warning for the earlier volumes, as I’ll briefly recap the tale thus far.
The first volume, Nyxia, had a Hunger Games-in-space type of plot (though the competition between the teens is less … murderous, it’s still pretty intense). A powerful corporation called Babel assembled a group of ten teenagers of various nationalities but generally less-privileged backgrounds for a space flight to Eden to mine the priceless nyxia for Babel, promising them immense wealth for a few years of their lives in Babel’s service. Most of the story is narrated by Emmett Atwater, an African-American teen from Detroit. The year-long flight to Eden is spent in an exciting (for both the teens and the reader) and exhausting (for the teens) competition between the teenagers for a coveted place with the final group that will actually land on Eden.
The second book, Nyxia Unleashed, shifted to the teens’ exploration of Eden (better known as Magnia, the Imago name for their planet) and getting to know the Imago, the human-like inhabitants of Magnia, as their group travels toward and into the planet’s largest city. It becomes even more clear to Emmett, his love interest Morning Rodriguez, and the other teenagers just how untrustworthy Babel is. But it turns out the Imago have been keeping a huge secret as well: the two moons of Magnia are going to collide in a few weeks, and the planet will become unlivable.
As Nyxia Uprising begins, it’s now a race against time and Babel’s military forces, to try to get Earthborn teenagers and a representative group of the Imago ― who will be the sole survivors of their entire race ― up into space to try to commandeer the Babel spaceships that are in orbit around Magnia, and travel back to Earth. Since the Imago aren’t a spacefaring race, getting up to the spaceships is more challenging than it might seem. The Imago and Earth teens also need to be prepared to fight Babel’s leaders and their marine forces for access to and control of the ships. But the Imago have nyxia, limitless imagination, and desperation on their side. Not to mention some extremely bright and well-trained (thanks for that at least, Babel) human teenagers.
Babel’s been not only cheating and lying to the human teens and the Imago, but also attempting to murder everyone on the planet, so it’s all fair. But Babel’s not going to give up easily.
Both of the earlier books in this series were exciting and engaging reads, if noticeably light on the science aspect of science fiction (for reasons I delve into in my review of Nyxia Unleashed). The teenage protagonists are an appealing and highly diverse group, and the novels (especially the first and this third one) are briskly paced, with hardly a moment for the teens and the readers to relax and take a deep breath or two. But I couldn’t help but feel that the series lost some of its sharpness and creativity in this last book. It’s focused on a single mission: get to the spaceships, take over, get back to Earth. Despite multiple obstacles and a few surprising casualties along the way, Nyxia Uprising overall felt rather predictable. The denouement was also a minor let-down, as Reintgen wrapped up the story with some feel-good giftwrap and a nice bow that took a few too many chapters to unfold.
Despite some weaknesses in this concluding volume, overall the NYXIA TRIAD series is a fun read that kept me interested to the end. I’d recommend it mostly to older teen readers who like sci-fi adventures with a diverse cast.