Reviews

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman (Book 1)

# of Pages: 465

Time it took me to read: 4 days

# of pages a day to finish in a week: 66

Rating: 3 out of 5

Nami is one night away from the rest of her life. She’s graduating high school, going off to college, and is finally going to get to have a real date with her best friend Finn, who she’s been in love with for years. But all of that gets cut short when she dies on the way to the graduation party.

She wakes up in Infinity, the land where all human consciousness goes after death. Immediately suspicious of the pill she is offered that will send her to paradise, she ends up escaping the facility she is being held in. With the help of the Colony, a small group of people who have also avoided taking “the pill”, she finds out that the afterlife has been hijacked by an AI named Ophelia. She and the other AI “Residents” coerce humans into taking a pill that traps them in their own mind and puts them entirely at the mercy of the Residents. Any humans that resist are captured and sent to torment in the courts of War, Famine, or worst of all Death.

Nami quickly finds that she has the unique ability to infiltrate the Resident society as a spy. But while all the humans in the Colony believe that the AI needs to be destroyed so that humans can have their afterlife, Nami doesn’t think it’s that simple. Will Nami be able to find a solution that protects the humans in the Colony that she has come to love without completely destroying the Residents and their way of life?

Note:

Alright, so I’m normally I’d do my full summary here, since this is the first book in a series that I intend on reading, but the summaries take me a long time to complete, and I truly did not enjoy the book enough to dedicate the time to a summary, so I’m just going to list the cast of characters below before starting my review. This whole bit should be spoiler free, so you can read on without fear.

Cast:

Nami – eighteen year old protagonist. Just graduating from high school, is excited to finally get the chance to date her best friend Finn, who she’s been in love with for years. Her dad is a graphic novelist who wrote a book called Tokyo Circus that is about a cyborg girl who bridges the gap between robots and humans to end a war.

Mei – ten year old sister of Nami. They have grown apart recently, but Nami loves Mei more than anything.

Finn – Best friend of Nami. They’ve been friends forever, but recently confessed their feelings for each other. The graduation party is going to be their first real date.

Gil – member of the Colony in the Court of Victory in Infinity. Doesn’t like Nami from the start, thinks she isn’t committed enough to the cause of destroying the Residents in Infinity and giving it back to humans.

Annika – leader of the Colony. Will do whatever it takes to protect her people, but generally kindhearted and wants to give Nami the chance to help the Colony in the fight against the Residents.

Ahmet – head Engineer of the Colony, his expertise is manipulating Infinity to create things, such as weapons for the Colony. Soft-spoken, passionate person. Encouraging to Nami.

Shura – a girl a little younger than Nami, befriends her right away. Her expertise is veiling, meaning she can hide people or places from the view of the Residents. Adopted daughter of Annika.

Theo – Helps rescue Nami from the Residents when she first arrives in Infinity. His skill is fighting the the Residents. Passionate about helping humans retake Infinity.

Caelan – the Prince of the Court of Victory. One of the AI “children” of Queen Ophelia. Nami’s goal is to spy on him and use the knowledge to help the Colony undermine the residents.

Ophelia – Queen of Infinity, the AI that took over Infinity. She was a virtual assistant widely used by humans like Nami during life.

Review:

Alright, I’m going to start by saying that my rating of 3 out of 5 stars is almost entirely subjective. We read this book for my book club, and I had the lowest rating of the bunch, so I think that I can say that this book is objectively closer to a four, but I really didn’t get much from it, so I kept my rating down at a 3.

As usual, I’m going to start out with what I did like about this book, which was almost exclusively the protagonist. Nami is somewhat unique in the world of YA protagonists because she never really becomes fully influenced in “the cause”. In most YA books that have the theme of “a small group of rebels fight against tyranny and oppression”, most protagonists are usually leading the fight from the start, or they become influenced into joining the cause through either direct pressure from other characters or a critical event.

Nami, from the very start, doesn’t particularly want to be involved in this fight against the Residents. She wants a good afterlife experience for her family, but she is also unable to look at the Residents or even Ophelia herself and see “evil” like the other members of the Colony do. Even when faced with continual, intense peer pressure by her companions, she continues to fight for and believe in an alternative to “one side wins, the other side dies”, and I think that this conviction makes her likable and unique.

The one other thing I will commend is the last twenty to thirty pages or so of the book. I think that she does a really good job of surprising you with the ending, but when you look back you realize the breadcrumbs were there all along, which is always the mark of a strong writer. And since I promised spoiler-free, this is all I’ll say about that.

Alright, now the parts that I didn’t like. I’ll begin with parts of the story I believe were objectively weak. The first being the pacing. I personally felt that I was pretty much snoozing through this book right up until the very end. While I believe a slow build is just fine, if you’re doing a lot of world-building / setup, I think that as a writer your reader isn’t likely to stick around if you keep them waiting for the action until right at the last fifty pages.

I also didn’t like the world-building as much as I wanted to. Definitely an interesting concept, a human afterlife taken over by robots, but besides one line somewhere that says “Ophelia hacked the afterlife”, there is literally NO explanation of HOW an AI (who is by definition a computer and thus code) “hacked” an afterlife that is organic and human? I wasn’t looking for a believable explanation, just some attempt at an explanation would have been nice. Because of this sort of lack of attempt to go into any sort of depth on the technical workings of this afterlife, I never got engaged in the world at all.

Okay, now moving onto the parts that I thought were weak, but that I believe are very much my subjective opinion. Starting off with the cast. This was a somewhat large-cast book, which I can totally be into. However, besides the protagonist, I did not care about a single other character in this entire story. There are a half-dozen members of the Colony that Nami is close with, and I truly didn’t care about a single one of them. Literally any of them could have “died” and I would not have cared. And I’m someone who gets really attached to side characters normally, so I found it really disappointing that I didn’t care for any of them. I mean, I thought they were all good people, but none of them pulled on my heartstrings at all, not even the love interest(s).

Next, I’m just going to say that I may have been pre-biased against this book from pretty much the very beginning because the concept bums. me. out. Like Nami is this nice, normal girl who has a nice family and a boy who is her best friend who she is going to kiss. Then she dies. And the whole book she’s just dead and she’s never going to get the life she deserved. And that just made me depressed from the start. So, conceptually, I was pre-disposed not to like it from the start.

And finally, as a followup to my last point, I think the biggest weakness in my personal, subjective opinion were the complete lack of stakes in this story. I think that, my definition, a book where the characters are already all dead means that the stakes cannot be much lower. Like, there is this general fear of like “oblivion” in the afterlife, but it’s not specific and, to me, didn’t seem that bad. What I LOVE so much about YA is how high the stakes always are. “Save a kingdom”, “Save my family”, “Fulfill my destiny as the chosen one”, etc are all common high-stakes tropes in YA, which are great. Because there is always the risk of capture, torture, or death, and that keeps things exciting and keeps me invested. However, while there’s technically fear of capture or torture, all of these characters are already dead, so why should I care?

After all that, you may ask, why am I going to read the sequel? Well, because particularly the last fifty pages hooked me, and I have to know how this is going to end. Like, the stakes are low, but I just can’t stand not knowing how the overall story is going to end?

I will end this review by saying that I do in fact recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the concept. I think that her writing does objectively get better as the book goes on, and pretty much everyone in my book club really liked it, I’m the odd one out. Most of my friends loved the concept and they also loved the love interest(s) that were at play. So even though this book wasn’t for me, it does have a pretty compelling protagonist and an interesting concept, so check it out if you want!

If you liked The Infinity Courts, try:

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

2 thoughts on “The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman (Book 1)

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