Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.
Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day. Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.
Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.
Okay so anyone who knows me will tell you what a Silvera stan I am. Seriously, that dude can WRITE. I first discovered Adam's books back when I was doing research for my Masters dissertation on the representation of gay characters in YA fiction. One of the books I stumbled across was More Happy Than Not and I immediately fell in love with the story, the characters and - most of all - the writing. Fast forward a few years later and I've read everything published by Adam and own multiple copies of all his books! Yup, I'm a definite fanboy.
So needless to say when I discovered that there were ARCs in existence for Infinity Son I lost my mind a little bit. I saw everyone posting pics of their proofs at YALC while I was stuck at work trying desperately not to have a mental breakdown every time I checked Twitter and saw someone else with Infinity Son in their hands.
THANKFULLY I have the best job in the world and the lovely folks at Simon & Schuster were able to hook me up (Nicola if you're reading this, you're the best! 🙌), so I quickly finished reading Ziggy, Stardust and Me (which is excellent btw - full review to follow!) and prepared myself for the mental anguish that comes free of charge with all Silvera novels.
I devoured this book in just a few days and wow - it's taken me a little while to get my thoughts together (THERE IS *A LOT* TO TAKE IN). I know the book doesn't come out until Jan 2020 so this review will be spoiler-free and instead of going into tons of depth about all aspects of the novel, I'll simply touch on the stuff that I think Silvera fans will want to know as they desperately count down the days to release.
So what's it about?
Infinity Son is a fantasy novel set in New York that follows the lives of two brothers, Emil and Brighton. In this world, there are three types of humans: regular people, celestials, and specters. Celestials are humans born with special powers (kinda like the X-Men) - shapeshifters, super strength, etc. Specters, on the other hand, acquire their powers through force, killing magical creatures and using their blood to transform themselves. It doesn't take a genius to work out which are the good guys and which are the bad. As the battle between celestials and specters rages on and distrust of magical beings reaches new heights, Emil and Brighton suddenly find themselves propelled into the chaos when Emil manifests a power of his own.
So this won't be news to Silvera fans but Infinity Son is a fantasy novel - a departure from the YA contemporary romances that Adam is known for. Does this mean you're not going to get your heart broken in typical Silvera fashion?
NO. NO IT DOES NOT. DO NOT ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE LULLED INTO A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY. HE WILL DO WHAT HE ALWAYS DOES AND HE WILL MAKE YOU CRY.
One of the things I love about Silvera novels is that the characterisation is always on point. All of his characters think, talk and act like real teenagers; they are flawed, they make mistakes, and their lives are messy. But it's those imperfections that draw you to them and make you root for them. Infinity Son is no different - Emil and Brighton (the novel's main protagonists) are brothers but they are completely different. Emil is shy, anxious and careful, whereas Brighton is self-assured, confident and reckless. Despite their differences, their loyalty to each other is unwavering and it's this bond that makes their relationship so compelling. Their dynamic reminded me of Mateo and Rufus in They Both Die At The End - completely contrasting personalities that bring out the best in one another (except without the romance because EW THEY ARE BROTHERS DON'T BE DISGUSTING).
I really related to Emil's character and I love that Silvera subverted the cliched "chosen one" narrative by making his hero a gay teen with anxiety and body confidence issues. As much as this book is a celebration of the fantasy novels Adam Silvera grew up with and adored, it's also a refreshing new take on fantasy and you can see he's definitely putting his own stamp on the genre.
And while Emil and Brighton are the focal point of the story, there are a number of other characters whose viewpoints we see and whose roles are crucial to the narrative. These characters face their own challenges and we see how their relationships have been directly affected by the conflict between celestials and specters and the persecution of magical beings by the rest of society. While I wasn't quite as invested in these characters as I was with Emil and Brighton, there were a couple of really powerful scenes told from their viewpoints that will definitely have you tearing up.
Romance doesn't feature heavily in Infinity Son which makes me sad because I always want cute gay boy smoosh. But given that this is a Silvera novel and things don't have a habit of ending well for the boys in his books, maybe it's for the best. There's some great LGBTQ+ representation with gay, lesbian and bi characters featuring throughout, and there is one relationship in particular that becomes a major plot point towards the end of the novel. Without spoiling anything, you'll need tissues on standby.
There does seem to be a hint of romance for both Emil and Brighton, though I'm not revealing their potential love interests because spoilers, duh! I'm really hoping that those relationships will be explored further in Book 2 because I'm shipping two particular characters and I need to see it happen!
This is Adam's first fantasy novel and it's also my first attempt at YA fantasy so I was a little apprehensive about whether or not I would enjoy Infinity Son. I was worried that my lack of fantasy reading would make it difficult to immerse myself in the world of the novel, and having read a handful of other reviews it does seem that the few criticisms directed at this book are based on the lack of world building. Thankfully, me being a fantasy virgin didn't stop me enjoying the book at all, and I'm glad to say this book has converted me - no more will I cower in fear at the enormous, never-ending volumes of Cassandra Clare and Sarah J. Maas!
Admittedly, I struggled with the first few chapters as I tried to make sense of the differences between celestials and specters, and who exactly the Spell Walkers were. There were a lot of names dropped very quickly and it did take me a little while to get to grips with the characters and the different factions within the novel. The confusion quickly clears up, however, as the narrative unfolds and I do think there's a conscious effort on Silvera's part to drip-feed you information so that big reveals that happen later in the novel have maximum impact. I expect that later novels in the Infinity Cycle will delve into the world's past in more detail and flesh out some of the characters' backstories (I really want more information on the Blackout given that this is the incident that finally severed the ties between humans and celestials and it's only vaguely touched upon in this book).
I can't speak for YA fantasy veterans but if, like me, you're new to fantasy and not quite sure where to start, I'd definitely recommend giving Infinity Son a go. The book reads a lot like Adam's contemporary stuff so if you've enjoyed his other novels you'd definitely like this one. Adam has touched on fantasy in his previous novels - take the Leteo Insititute in More Happy Than Not, for example, or Death-Cast in They Both Die at the End. In both of those novels, fantasy concepts are used as a way to explore human identity and to encourage the reader to think about who they are: If you could forget a part of yourself, would you do it? If you had one day left to live, how would you spend it? The same principle applies to Infinity Son, only the fantasy element takes centre stage this time. There are a whole bunch of questions being asked in this novel, but I guess at the heart of it all is the one Emil is faced with:
If you had the chance to change the world would you take it?
Infinity Son is a brilliant book that sits perfectly alongside Adam Silvera's other novels. I love the characters of Emil and Brighton and I'm excited to see how the storylines of supporting characters like Maribelle and Ness are going to be developed. There's some great LGBTQ+ rep in this novel and I love that the story doesn't revolve around sexuality or coming out - finally we have a hero who just happens to be gay. I've avoided quotes so far because of spoilers, but I can't not include this brilliant one from Emil:
"Back when I was a kid, oblivious to the world's ugliness, I always imagined myself marrying princes, and Brighton only expressed interest in a princess sitting on the throne beside him. We never questioned this, and same went for our parents. I had been talking about beautiful princes for so long that I never had to come out to my family, but when I got older and found the word that best fit my romantic worldview - gay for the win - it was awesome for telling new people in my life, and most important, how comfortable the word felt on my tongue. It's as normal as my hazel eyes and constant bedhead. I grew to understand that acceptance like that was a miracle." (p. 87).
There's no homophobia in the novel and it's great to see how diverse characters are so naturally incorporated into the world of the story without being marked out as different. And while my OTP may not have been delivered just yet, I'm still holding out hope. COME ON ADAM MAKE IT HAPPEN. My only wish is that this novel was another 100 or so pages so that the pacing could be slowed down ever so slightly allowing for a more fully developed backstory. I'm desperate to know where phoenixes come from, how humans and magical creatures co-exist, and what led to the Blackout. I need to know more about this brilliant world and I can't believe I've got to wait at least another year for some answers!
If you've already had the chance to read Infinity Son get in touch and let me know what you think. What are your theories for Book 2?
What other fantasy novels would you recommend to a newbie like me?
And who are your auto-buy authors? Let me know in the comments!