Infinity Son is the fantasy debut of celebrated YA novelist Adam Silvera. It is something of a departure from his previous works, based on the supernatural mythology he has been developing for a decade, and as such it might strike the uninformed as Silvera’s first novel.
Part of the reason is the obvious, unabashed enthusiasm with which Silvera presents his setting, an alternate-reality New York where LGBT+ teens awkwardly idolise flamboyant super-powered vigilantes. However, the opening chapters also emanate a self-consciousness which reflects that of Emil, a young gay man on the cusp of his 18th birthday and Infinity Son’s main protagonist, because in sharing this world that he has cherished privately for years, Silvera’s writing takes on a vulnerability that mirrors Emil’s own.
There is a raw quality to this style of writing, which occasionally comes across as unpolished; thankfully the novel, like Emil himself, soon blooms into vibrant life as a supernatural tour de force.
In the world of Infinity Son, many people have supernatural powers. Celestials, whose powers manifest naturally as they reach adulthood, are maligned by the public as threats to society, but the true threat is spectres, selfish individuals who have drunk the blood of a magical creature to gain powers. It is hard not to imagine Silvera’s own experiences informing the troubled society of his fantasy world, where a vibrant community are attacked in the media and on the streets simply because people fear who they are.
Thankfully, Silvera’s New York has the Spell Walkers, a diverse young team of celestials who have inherited their parents’ mantles and brave the oppressive forces of political and public hatred in order to fight the amoral Blood Casters, a gang of spectres led by a villainess hell-bent on attaining immortality.
Into this conflict comes Emil and his twin brother Brighton. Brighton, ambitious and arrogant, longs to graduate from social media fame and become one of the Spell Walkers he idolises, but in the first of many twists, it is awkward, sensitive Emil whose unexpected abilities catapult the brothers into a world of danger and violence.
Infinity Son then whisks the reader away on a breakneck rollercoaster, jumping between the perspectives of Emil, Brighton, vengeful Spell Walker Maribelle and mysterious shape-shifter Ness. Emil and Brighton’s relationship remains central throughout it all, the love and rivalry between the brothers driving the story just as much as the battle between good and evil.
Two of the things that struck the most about Infinity Son were its rich magical mythology and its immersion in social media culture. Silvera hurls his extensively imagined world at the reader with such enthusiasm it can become a little hard to follow, but his supernatural mechanics are both elegant and original, especially those revolving around Emil’s cherished phoenixes.
While the complexity of Silvera’s magical world can be disorientating, the novel’s portrayal of and frequent references to social media culture seem designed to ground the story in a world which Silvera’s target demographic know intimately. Brighton is a social media influencer who uses his various accounts and channels to champion the Spell Walkers’ narrative, and as the plot progresses, the internet proves to be just as powerful a force as magic.
Infinity Son grips like a vice and then punches you in the heart, but it leaves you wanting more. In this way, it embodies all the emotion and power of YA fantasy and as such is a must-read for all YA fans.
‘Infinity Son’ is out on January 14 from Simon and Schuster and can be pre-ordered now.