Monday, April 12, 2021

Book Review: Adam Silvera Brings Readers on a Spellbinding Journey in ‘Infinity Reaper’

“For those who don’t want to keep fighting. Fight on.”

Just over a year ago, Adam Silvera released Infinty Son, the first book in his Infinity Cycle fantasy series that ended with quite the cliffhanger. Tomorrow, March 2, the continuation of that story arrives. Infinity Reaper picks up right where Son left off, and this time, the stakes are higher. Emil races against time as he fights to save Brighton’s life and find a way to rid himself of powers he never wanted. To do so, he must dig deeper into history he’s trying to outrun. Meanwhile, Ness becomes pulled into a villainous scheme the Senator has devised, and the Spell Walkers’ ranks are crumbling as their ongoing battle for peace only becomes more complicated.

Note: This review will contain spoilers for Infinity Son but will exclude spoilers for Infinity Reaper.

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Reaper picks up right where Son ended: Ness has been kidnapped by The Senator (his father), forced to help The Senator advance his horrible political agenda and campaign for the presidency. Brighton drank the Reaper’s Blood meant for Luna, which gives him powers of his own but at a near fatal cost. Maribelle is still reeling from the death of her partner Atlas and continues seeking her revenge for him and her parents. Emil continues to find a way to get rid of his powers, still processing learning he was adopted and is the third life cycle of Keon Máximo — the first specter and one with phoenix blood.

The story kicks off with its predecessor’s suspense in mind, creating a similar tension to hook readers. While Silvera holds on to the tone he established in Infinity Son, Reaper has an added heaviness that sits in much the way Silvera’s contemporary novels do. Silvera’s inclusion of parallels to real life through the disparities in Senator Iron’s and Congresswoman Sunstar’s presidential campaigns, and the parallels to racial tensions, pack an extra punch. Silvera explores the different manifestations of loss and grief, primarily through his four narrators, but also includes secondary characters within his examination. The question of mortality remains present throughout the entirety of the book. It appears not only in relation to how humans think about mortality (for reference, this is similar to They Both Die at the End), but what the implications of trading mortality for immortality are and the effects it has on a person’s humanity. (Luna, one of the main antagonists, is a great example of this.) Silvera also raises the question: How far would you go to protect the ones you love and, for the purposes of the book, save the world?

Readers will also meet two new characters: Tala and Wyatt, who become key players readers can add to the list of Silvera’s characters they love. Along with Tala and Wyatt, new powers are introduced. Not only do they up the ante of the story, but they’re also pretty cool (especially one that appears later in the book).

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A major reason why Reaper thrives is because of its four narrators: Emil, Brighton, Maribelle, and Ness. Silvera fully utilizes the story’s time to dig into each character’s mindset. When they aren’t thrust into heavy action sequences, each one is provided several moments where they have the space to process their feelings about the ongoing war, each other, and themselves. While all four are excellently written, Maribelle is one who stands out the most for me. When readers met her in Infinity Son, she harbors a fierce anger for the untimely death of her parents, and later, her partner Atlas, all of whose deaths she seeks to avenge. Her anger is strongly driven by grief for her loved ones. And though she ends up in many a dangerous situation (thus is the life of a Spell Walker), Maribelle has the space to be angry. Silvera also includes a fantastic twist with Maribelle.

Along the same vein, Emil and Brighton experience heightened emotions. Emil’s revelation in Son that he was adopted weighs heavily on him, causing him to feel out of place with his mother and Brighton. He continues to hold an intense guilt about the actions of his past lives, Keon Máximo and Bautista de León, part of his motivation to find a way to rid himself of the powers he never wanted. Emil also misses Ness, regardless of the complicated feelings involved. Meanwhile, Brighton continues to thrive in his social media fame, branding himself after he gained powers, too. Silvera does an excellent job adding to Brighton’s complexity. He becomes this near morally gray character who will have readers questioning him just as much as the other characters do. However, he does manage to be a character that readers will find a way to sympathize with, even when he does some more questionable things.

Last but certainly not least is Ness, who’s essentially a hostage with his own father. Similar to Emil, Ness experiences guilt for partaking in activities he has no choice to if it means he’ll be reunited with Emil. His chapters paint a picture of a person who recognizes his past mistakes and actively works to atone for who he used to be, despite what his current situation suggests. Silvera brings Ness’ cleverness to the forefront and invites readers to give Ness a chance, regardless of his past, his father, and the necessary steps he must take to survive.

Silvera really hits a good stride with Infinity Reaper. Where Infinity Son was more focused on introducing the characters and showcasing the action of the story, Silvera takes more time in Reaper to flesh out his four narrators while also crafting an intense, suspenseful story that will quickly pull readers in. He examines hard-hitting topics through a creative lens, taking care to provide multiple perspectives that display how feelings such as grief don’t have only one form. The tense political climate he carries into Reaper heightens in a well-done parallel to that of the US. It’s eerie and unsettling but only helps connect readers to the story, as well as provide necessary context for much of what occurs. As with every Adam Silvera book, Infinity Reaper hits. Readers will continue to fall for his complex and dynamic characters, and, as painful as it may be, follow them on their journeys. Infinity Reaper is a book that readers won’t want to put down, even after reaching that ending.

As an added bonus, Silvera includes a Ness-centric short story. Titled “First Face,” the story is a prequel featuring readers’ favorite shifter Ness Arroyo before the Blackout happened. Readers will get to learn more about Ness’ mindset when he was still known as Eduardo Iron. It’s an intriguing look into Ness’ history that offers some reprieve from Infinity Reaper’s ending. “First Face” is exclusive to the first printing of US hardcovers and first printing UK paperback editions of Infinity Reaper, so make sure you snag your copy early!

Infinity Reaper releases tomorrow, March 2, in stores and online.

Julia
Julia
Julia is a writer/editor/content assistant for Nerds. She joined the team in 2019 but has always enjoyed talking about her favorite fandoms. When she isn't writing or working, you can find her reading, watching her favorite shows and movies, and building her repertoire of Dad jokes.

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