Robyn Reviews: Infinity Son

Jackie’s thoughts on this book can be found here

‘Infinity Son’ is the fantasy debut of well-known young adult contemporary author Adam Silvera. As is perhaps to be expected, it reads much more like a contemporary than a fantasy novel – and unfortunately, it also highlights how unlikeable protagonists can detract from the entire reading experience.

Brothers Emil and Brighton grew up in New York obsessed by the Spell Walkers, a vigilante group blessed with magical powers. The Spell Walkers defend magical creatures from specters – however, in doing so, New York has become embroiled in violence and brawls. Brighton, an amateur YouTube vlogger, has always wanted to manifest powers of his own and join the Spell Walkers. Emil just wants his brother to be safe. However, when the time comes, it’s Emil – not Brighton – who manifests powers.

The heart of ‘Infinity Son’ is the relationship between the two brothers. They’re total opposites – Emil is quiet, studious, and has no wish for the spotlight, whereas Brighton is entirely driven by his pursuit of fame and glory. They love each other, but Brighton looks down on his brother for many reasons, and Emil’s love for his brother blinds him to Brighton’s many flaws.

The chapters alternate between Emil and Brighton’s perspectives. Unfortunately, Brighton’s chapters are a chore to read simply because Brighton is so unlikeable. He’s an exceptionally selfish person, only interested in fame for himself, and enormously shallow. He’s a teenager, so some emotional immaturity is to be expected, but it doesn’t make his head a pleasant place to be. I found myself tolerating Brighton’s sections only to get to Emil’s.

Emil is an absolute sweetheart of a character. He loves phoenixes, and all he wants is to live a quiet life with his family, study phoenixes, and meet a nice guy. The sudden development of celestial powers throws him completely out of his comfort zone, and his journey learning to manage them is incredibly relatable. He also has a very sweet will-they-won’t-they romantic subplot which is endearing to read about and a nice contrast to the difficulties elsewhere in his life.

The setting and worldbuilding has huge potential. Celestials have powers connected to constellations, but these powers can be stolen and used by others if someone takes their blood. ‘Infinity Son’ is the first in an intended series, so the magic system is barely explored, but it’s one of the strongest parts of the book. However, even for a debut I think it’s under-utilised. New York is barely different with magic to the New York we know without magic, and the phoenixes – extremely cool creatures who feature surprisingly rarely in modern fantasy – play a much smaller role than they could. It definitely feels like a contemporary novel which happens to feature fantasy elements, instead of like a fully-fledged fantasy novel.

Overall, ‘Infinity Son’ isn’t my sort of book, but it will likely appeal to fans of contemporary young adult novels looking for something a bit different. The potential is there for a sequel to be much stronger.

Published by Simon & Schuster
Paperback: January 14th 2020

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