INFINITY SON / AUTHOR: ADAM SILVERA / PUBLISHER: SIMON & SCHUSTER CHILDREN'S / RELEASE DATE: 14TH JANUARY
Since bursting onto the YA fiction scene in 2015 with his startlingly poignant debut More Happy Than Not, Adam Silvera has secured a strong and devoted cult following by cornering the market with three further acclaimed LGBT-themed teen novels. His most recent publication, 2018’s contemporary-set dual POV romance What if it’s Us? – a collaboration with Love Simon scribe Becky Albertalli - spent several weeks on the New York Times Top 10 Bestsellers list throughout 2018.
Infinity Son (the first incarnation of which was drafted when the author was just eighteen) marks Silvera’s first foray into the world of fantasy. Genre swapping is a notoriously difficult feat for any author to pull off and so the question stands; can Silvera replicate his success within the high standard world of YA Fantasy?
Set in Silvera’s familiar stomping ground of New York City, twin brothers Emil and Brighton are on the cusp of their eighteenth birthday. Theirs is a world entangled with people who are sometimes born with magical powers (known as celestials) and those who use nefarious means to obtain that power for themselves (specters) by hunting magical creatures. Both twins grew up admiring the celestials, and Brighton, the more outgoing of the two, desperately longs to be a celestial himself. He has a dedicated YouTube series and worships his heroes as real life comic book characters, while more reserved Emil is firmly against the violent confrontations between the two factions, bringing him into ideological opposition with his brother.
The twins (alongside their friend Prudencia) find themselves caught up in a subway brawl where Emil discovers he has developed powers against his will, leading the brothers down a dark and dangerous path as they navigate conflict between celestials, specters, the Spell Walkers, their own society and, most jarringly of all, each other.
The action is non-stop throughout, although more time could have been devoted to world-building, which is the only criticism of this otherwise wholly entertaining story. Major references are made to The Blackout, one of the largest terrorist attacks in history which the celestials were blamed for and caused their marginalisation from society. The parallels between real life events and the narrative within Infinity Son play out in much the same way as the X-Men series, which is no bad thing at all.
Brighton’s social media obsession makes him a frustrating character at times, although Silvera does a good job of juxtaposing these character traits with references to the PTSD Brighton masks from witnessing the death of his father. Emil, one of the few openly gay leading characters in YA fantasy, is refreshingly comfortable with his sexuality (as is everyone else) but is more concerned with ‘coming out’ as an individual with powers. His reluctant development from sidekick to leading man is handled masterfully by Silvera, who continues to prove himself as a driving, humanising voice for underrepresented groups within society.
The first in a trilogy, Infinity Son will appeal to all.