Guys, I don’t want to write this review. I like Adam Silvera, and I like his novels. Everyone Dies At the End was one of my favorite books for 2017. I want to pretend I read a different book, one that I adored, but I can’t. Guys, Infinity Son is not very good.
Let me start off by saying the premise is fantastic. I will forever love stories with characters who have special powers, and Mr. Silvera’s characters have loads of them. My problem is that Mr. Silvera tried to write a fantasy novel in the same way he has his contemporary stories. He shoots for organic world-building, letting the story inform readers of any history and other information you need to know to understand this world. However, it does not work. There are references to the idea that for some part of the population, they get their powers from the stars, but no one explains this. Then there are other powers you can get by stripping a magical beast of its powers, again with no explanation. Mr. Silvera never defines his magic, its limitations, its origins, and the two fighting factions.
Jay Kristoff recently had a lot to say on the topic of magic in fantasy story-telling, specifically as it relates to the Netflix series “The Witcher,” but his words are just as applicable in this case. His point was that authors need to explain and put limits on any magic or else it becomes a convenient plot device. This is where Mr. Silvera errs the most. He fails to provide any guidelines for the magic in his story. We must infer any rules based on what his characters experience. Even then, however, it feels as if his characters follow different rules nor do we truly understand how they work. Maybe they do follow the same rules, but I didn’t want to spend the time trying to figure it all out.
Similarly, organic world-building can work in fantasy novels, but it cannot be the only way an author creates his world for the reader. There is an entire historical context between the two factions that we never truly understand until the end. He brings characters into scenes for whom we never get an introduction. There are numerous references to a special constellation, I think, that enhances power, but no one tells us exactly what the big deal is. That should not happen. Readers must infer too much, which is a story-telling failure when it comes to fantasy novels in my opinion.
I really wanted to love Infinity Son. It has phoenixes and mentions basilisks. People can hover and do all sorts of cool things. But no one tells me why they can do these things. At no point in time does anyone explain what other magical creatures exist or why stars are so important or what the ef is actually happening and why, and it kills me. I wanted to love Infinity Son so much, but in one of the biggest disappointments of the new year, I could barely finish it.