Content/Trigger Warnings: Death of a loved one. murder, grief, anxiety, panic attacks, trauma, abandonment, graphic violence, scene animal/creature fighting/abuse, death of a creature, body shaming, paranoia
ARC was given by Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published before the release date (January 14th, 2020)
“Your humanity is what makes you heroic, not your powers.”
It’s no secret that I love a book that has good mythical beasts especially if they’re dragons and phoenixes. This book had me hooked and fully excited to see how phoenixes would be woven into a ya fantasy. Top that off with a super hero element, you had me. However, while I was overly excited for a book full of magic and mythical beasts, I did become exposed to a lot of negative reviews early on. So when I had finally received an arc of one of my anticipated books of 2020, I was a worried about picking it up. Friends, I truly wish I could say that the start to 2020 kicked off with a good start, but this wasn’t the book for me and my heart is incredibly heavy admitting that. I truly wanted to love this book with every fiber in my being, but sadly that wasn’t the case.
Infinity Son follows the perspective of four characters throughout this entire story. I will leave a breakdown below. Emil and Brighton have always dreamed about becoming heroes someday, but at some point, Emil reached a point of wanting all the fighting to stop while Brighton only wants to join in the fray of it all. Among all this chaos and fear, a gang of specters have been rising from the shadows and getting bolder every day, making peace nearly impossible. Then one day, Emil and Brighton get caught up in a situation that leads to Emil developing his own powers and nothing will be the same ever again.
🔥 Humans – Just like you and me!
🔥 Celestials – Born with magical powers. Example; the ability to heal any wound, controlling wind or fire, etc…
🔥 Specters – Steal powers, violently takes the essence of magical creatures
🔥 Emil – The “chosen one,” ability is that of a phoenix, wants nothing except for the war to stop and there to be peace
🔥 Brighton – Power hungry and thirsty for fame, brother to Emil
🔥 Maribelle – Member of the Spell Walkers, wants vengeance for the death of her parents, hates the leader of the Spell Walkers
🔥 Ness – Specter, shape-shifter, mysterious, wild card of the story-line, love interest to Emil
Each character plays an important role in the development of the story and offers their own experience and personal view of the events taking place. With so many character point of views, it’s very easy for a lot of the details and plot to get muddled together. There’s also a lot that happens in each perspective that causes a lot of the povs to be more character driven than actual story-line or plot driven. All of this aside, every reader will find someone they’re strongly drawn to regardless if they’re a side character or one of the main characters.
Characters aside, I love the story telling built around phoenixes and hydras in this book. As I mentioned before, I love phoenixes and a lot of the details the wove around the phoenixes, the way they live and rebirth themselves, and just the symbolism of what they stood for in this book just took hold of my heart. Same for the hydras. Hydras are a species of dragons and they appear all throughout legends, stories, mythology, and of course, MTG. They symbolize power and strength, and they were no exception in this book. I wish we had received just a little bit more with the background and relationship between hydras and phoenixes, but I won’t complain with what we got. However, I do want to point out that there is a scene in this book between and phoenix and a hydra that is very similar to animal fighting in the real world. While these are mythical creatures, I wanted to point this out because there are details of how the creatures are handled and treated. It’s even to the point that Emil is even internally recognizing that both creatures are terrified and are being forced into a situation that has been caused naturally.
I want to take a moment to truly appreciate Prudencia. I loved her as a side character and I loved the way she showed her love, her loyalty, but also how we got to see her moments of fear, sadness, frustration. Also, I just know in my soul she is going to play a much bigger role in this series and I can’t wait to see her bring her full potential to the table. She’s such a treasure and she’s one hell of a friend to Emil and Brighton.
I also have to mention that I love the way therapy and seeking help is handled in this book. I loved that there was an open invitation for Emil and his family to seek guidance and counseling to navigate the tough, emotional strain they were all put under. I also liked that we get a few scenes of therapy session and how it was normalized and worked in to everything else happening in the book. And I really loved how Emil decided to have a private session and voice his struggles, his concerns, and his fears. That was one of my favorite scenes because Emil is so vulnerable, but we see him realizing and deciding he can’t work through this on his own.
And of course, I have to mention the wide variety of family dynamics. We get so many diverse family situations in this book and I loved every second of it. We have an aunt and niece dynamic, a widowed mother of two, there’s an adopted element thrown into the mix, there’s so many and I don’t want to spoil them all because some of them do play into the plot. But it was so great reading about so many different families in this book. It truly made my heart warm even if many of the situations weren’t the greatest.
I also want to point out ow much I loved Emil and Ness near the end of this book. More specially there’s a scene where Emil is body shaming himself and Ness says the most wonderful things. The whole scene is very pure, very raw, and becoming comfortable with one another. It just made my whole heart swell with so much love and appreciation. Despite everything this book does (and it’s a lot), this scene had me awing, crying, and I never wanted that scene to end with them parting. I loved it so much. And just so you know, their connection is very slow burn and that good enemies to lovers trope.
“You should only feel beautiful to yourself. And only be with someone who gets that you’re beautiful because of who you are.”
Despite all of the good this book has and even though there are many, many moments that I loved and wanted more of, there were also a lot of things that I didn’t enjoy and even now am still bothered by. For starters, I mentioned before this book is a four character pov, but I’m not a fan of 4+ character pov. I feel like important details get lost because the majority of a book is spent building up the characters and then we’re getting backstories when we should be getting more of the story-line or hitting a plot twist, something should be happening. It was also really troublesome because we have two povs that go from being a unique povs to being completely laced with hated, jealousy, anger, immense vibes of craving power; especially near the end where it seemed like these two povs really showed their true colors of absolute hostility. It just left a never ending bad feeling with my reading experience.
Now, I understand every television show or book has one, but I thought it completely unnecessary to have Brighton act like a complete fool and make idiotic decisions for two-thirds of the book. For the majority of the book, Brighton was making extremely poor choices to the point of it putting the team or mission in jeopardy, the situations being frustrating because he’s so hot-headed and won’t listen to anyone, and it made me not want to read through his parts throughout this book. The same thing with Maribelle. Majority of the book we have Mariabelle either being disrespectful to the Emil or the team captain and being spiteful towards her or we just get parts of her completely obsessing over the death of her parents instead of seeing her being productive and helping the team. They were both frustrating and irritating characters to the point of them being my least favorite parts of the book, and any scene with them in it had me dreading their parts.
And we need to have a serious talk about Emil’s character development. There are many times in this book where Emil could have had potential character development, but instead we just receive development of his powers. For the majority of the book or at least two-thirds of the book, Emil spends it having panic attacks in thinking he’s going to die or he’s talking about how much he doesn’t want to be a solider in this war. The only time we really see Emil setup in this book is during events that something happens to his brother. I also have to address that Emil never once steps up and calls anyone out on side characters pressuring him to do things he doesn’t want to do. For example, near the beginning of this book therapy is made an options, but Emil didn’t want to go to therapy because he was internally trying to work things out. Instead of the other characters leaving him be, his own brother and best friend trick him into going to therapy and forcing him to sit through a session. Situations like this, Emil could have taken charge, told everyone to back off or just leave him to figure it out, but instead Emil just silently endured these situations instead of speaking up for himself or standing his ground. Despite all of this, Emily is still a great character and one of pure heart, but he definitely deserved more moments for development that were outside of his powers.
I also want to point out to those who read comics often or have read them enough will find that this book seems like a comic book written in a ya fantasy format. What I mean is this feels like a graphic novel or comic turned into a thick book when this feels like it could have done really well as a comic. Also, there are large parts of this book that feel very familiar to situations and scene that have happened in the Marvel and DC Comic universe, more specifically with the Justice League from DC Comics and X-Men from Marvel. Due to that feeling, the last third of this book became very predictable and was a very familiar story-line/plot that I’ve seen a lot in those type of graphic novels before. So that last third of the book really left a lot to be desired especially since this book seemed so unique and original in the beginning up until that part.
Aside from all of this, the biggest issue I had with this book was this constant feeling of hopelessness throughout the book. Once it hit about 50%, it was like a switch got flipped because there was an immense sense of dread and hopelessness. And following that, the way this book concluded left me feeling drained and left me feeling terrible. So much happened at the end and it was like one terrible thing after another. There was no ending on a good note or even a climatic cliffhanger, it left on a terrible note of darkness, dread, death, and spite. Not the kind of ending I was expecting and definitely not a satisfying one.
Overall, this was just an okay book for me. It wasn’t terrible, but it also wasn’t the greatest. For me, this book left a lot to be desired and I had my hopes pretty high for this. While I’m sad that one of my anticipated releases of 2020 didn’t live up to my expectations, I truly enjoyed a lot this book offered. There were many things that I loved seeing like the different powers and the phoenix history, the different family dynamics, the great moments of vulnerability Emil shows, the talking and displaying of “it’s okay to go to therapy and seek out ways to work things out,” there were so many more great points this book offered. I will definitely continue this series. I believe this series is going to be a trilogy and I’m excited to see how these characters grow and develop. More importantly, I’m ready for more phoenix and hydra action!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.