A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Infinity Son by Adam Silvera (They Both Die at the End) is the first book in his debut fantasy series, Infinity Cycle. A shocking revelation about Emil's identity pushes him and his twin brother, Brighton, into a war between magical beings that threatens to destroy everything they know and love. There are positive messages about love, compassion, family, and friendship. Sensitive Emil and ambitious Brighton are relatable characters. They have ups and downs as twins, but their loyalty shines and they aspire to make a positive difference. Most major characters are people of color, and several characters are queer, including Emil, though it's not central to the story. People of all genders are represented and respected. Bloody and deadly battle scenes between magical beings involve weapons such as daggers, flight, fire darts, wands, and gem grenades, as well as hand-to-hand fighting. Characters repeatedly face grave danger and a key character dies tragically. No kissing or sex, though two male characters appear attracted to one each other. Other characters are in same-gender and opposite-gender relationships. Strong language is limited to a few uses of "hell."
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What's the story?
Told primarily in Emil and Brighton's alternating perspectives, INFINITY SON follows the twins as their lives get upended by a long-held secret about Emil's identity. They always dreamed of being celestials, or people with superhero abilities, but as their 18th birthday winds down, neither appears to have latent magical powers. When they're attacked by specters, Emil discovers he has phoenix fire, but this is not a celestial power; only specters gain this kind of magic by stealing it from magical creatures. Emil would never consume phoenix blood, but before they can unravel that mystery, Brighton, who hopes that his social media channels will make him famous, uploads a video of the fight online to his "Celestials of New York" platform, and Emil is launched into superstardom. The brothers find themselves caught in a generations-long war between the Spell Walkers, a superhero vigilante group fighting for the end of celestial persecution, and the Blood Casters, a group of specters who are seeking to create immortality. Emil, with the help of the Spell Walkers and support of his brother, might be the only person who can stop the Blood Casters from achieving their nefarious goal. A cliffhanger ending with a twist threatens Emil and Brighton's bond, as well as the safety of the world.
Is it any good?
This fast-paced, compelling story is a refreshing contribution to the superhero fantasy genre. Infinity Son has leads who are people of color, queer, and from various class backgrounds, so the cast is realistic and relatable. Emil is particularly compelling. His journey toward courage and self-love is captivating, especially contrasted to his brother's spiraling resentments that take him further away from Emil. This magic-heavy tale is grounded in a futuristic New York City that never feels far from reality. The constant use of social media and the political mess of the book means readers will be able to draw parallels to real life. Themes including the trauma of war, loss and grief, revenge, and the complexity of family relationships don't underestimate the teen reader's ability to handle hard realities. There is a fair amount of violence, but its fantasy context means that even high body count battles don't feel too gory. The death of a key character (and its aftermath) will be an emotional gut-punch, but a familiar one for anyone who has read Silvera's other books. The cliffhanger ending will keep readers on the lookout for the next book in this promising new series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what the Spell Walkers and the Specters are fighting for in Infinity Son. How do Emil and Ness fit into their respective "sides"? How do they rebel against the roles they're expected to play?
How does the world of Infinity Son compare with other superhero worlds you've read about in books or seen in movies? How is the world of this book like our own? How is it different?
What did you think of Brighton's decision at the end? How do you think Emil and Brighton's relationship will change as a result of Brighton's choice in the following books of this series?
- Author: Adam Silvera
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Activism, Magic and Fantasy, Superheroes, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperTeen
- Publication date: January 14, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 368
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: April 2, 2021
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