Infinity Son, Adam Silvera (Harper Teen 978-0-06-245782-0, $18.99, 353pp, hc) January 2020.
Adam Silvera takes an emotional look at fraught sibling relationships in the fantasy adventure Infinity Son. Fraternal twin brothers Emil and Brighton live in a New York that is home to magical humans called Spell Walkers who protect the city from the devious specters. While the Spell Walkers are born with their powers, the specters cruelly steal them from magical creatures. The good guys and bad guys appear obvious here, except nothing in Silvera’s world is as clear as it seems. (This includes the magic terms themselves, which come fast and furious in the opening pages.) As the twins turn 18 there is a chance that their own latent powers might be revealed: Brighton is desperate for Spell Walker status; Emil is determined to avoid it. Guess what happens?
The first thing you notice about Infinity Son is that the plot moves at a breakneck pace, with the brothers (and best friend Prudencia), often running for their lives or helping someone else run for their lives or working with a large group to get the bad guys first so they all don’t have to… you know… run for their lives. The pacing is well suited for the narrative and is one of the novel’s strong points; readers will barely have a chance to catch their breath before the next crisis appears. The world building is also effective as this is still a fully recognizable New York, but it includes delightful additions like the Museum of Natural Creatures, with its dramatic dragon skeleton, where Emil works. What might give the readers pause, however, is the characters; there are, simply, a lot of characters.
To populate this alternate New York, Silvera provides not only the traditional family (mother), friends (Prudencia), and co-workers, but a host of heroes and villains. That is where things get a bit complicated, as not only are there a lot of names and backstories to remember, but everyone brings along some baggage involving everyone else which introduces numerous subplots into an already plot-heavy novel. Also, with rare exceptions, the magical characters operate in shades of grey, proving to be alternately sympathetic and unlikable with the turn of a page. Infighting occurs as much as direct fighting and this can be a bit difficult to keep track of. Through it all, Emil and Brighton must come to terms with the unexpected turn their lives have taken. This is the story’s center, and what holds it together as everyone else spins in and out of narrative.
Infinity Son excels when it focuses on the brothers, who must figure out not only how to survive the notoriety that arrives with Emil’s new powers (which were, of course, captured on film and immediately uploaded to YouTube, making him now a very famous target), but also how to navigate what it means to their relationship. The emotional fallout from all of this is epic and Silvera doesn’t pull a single punch. He puts Emil and Brighton through the wringer and brings readers along for the ride, challenging them to consider what they would do if everything they wanted went to the person they cared about the most. There is a lot of thoughtful dialogue, some unexpected (but meaningful) romance, a twist of the knife in terms of who you can trust, and an almost painful cliffhanger ending. (Get ready, it’s a killer.) Altogether, Infinity Son should be a winner for readers looking for super heroics wrapped in magic, who like their plot at a blistering pace. Silvera has crafted a thoroughly imaginative ride and I look forward to seeing how he pulls off that cliffhanger in the sequel’s opening pages.
Colleen Mondor, Contributing Editor, is a writer, historian, and reviewer who co-owns an aircraft leasing company with her husband. She is the author of “The Map of My Dead Pilots: The Dangerous Game of Flying in Alaska” and reviews regularly for the ALA’s Booklist. Currently at work on a book about the 1932 Mt. McKinley Cosmic Ray Expedition, she and her family reside in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. More info can be found on her website: www.colleenmondor.com.
This review and more like it in the May 2020 issue of Locus.
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