Sci-fi is one genre I don’t enjoy often, so I rarely read them.
But surprisingly, I’ve already read two satisfyingly amazing sci-fi’s this year, and The Infinity Courts is one of them! Reading TIC was like reading pure brilliance, to say the least. It finished me in a way a book has never done before.*
*I’ve already read the ending several times over, and I still cannot get over it!! The second book is practically all I need at the moment.
Akemi Dawn Bowman // April 6, 2021
Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years.
The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there.
When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all.
As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.
From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes an incisive, action-packed tale that explores big questions about technology, grief, love, and humanity.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This did not affect my opinion in any way.
All quotes are from an advance copy and may differ in final publication.
After reading Bowman’s debut Starfish, I was in awe of her writing and characters, and after hearing about her fantasy debut, I was very interested and the slightest bit concerned about how she would write in a completely different genre. It turns out I never had to worry. This was only the second book I’ve read by her, and I’m so excited to say that this did not disappoint at all!
The Infinity Courts follows Nami, a girl who has the perfect life—a supportive family, the boy of her dreams, and a party to get to. It all goes downhill when she’s murdered and wakes up in a world known as Infinity, where human consciousness goes after their physical bodies die. From there, Nami discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant used by humans, has taken over this twisted afterlife and is forcing humans into mindless servants. In a world devoid of emotion and full of deceivers, Nami soon learns that she can trust no one but herself.
Infinity was never built for you; it was built for dreamers. I might never be free, […] but neither will you.
Akemi Dawn Bowman’s storytelling is truly unmatched, the world of Infinity rich with the smallest details and backdropped by an atmospheric eeriness that draws you in deeper. She strings together phrases with unimaginable skill, creating a masterpiece of words and stories and pure emotion, and with every word I read, I fell a little bit deeper in love with it. This is written so eloquently, interwoven with prose while captivating you all the same.
Nami was certainly an interesting protagonist to read about, as she learns to cope with being dead, and as her beliefs change. She’s one of the most well-written morally grey characters I’ve read about, her thoughts and opinions clashing with one another and ultimately being torn on which side she is really on.
I am everywhere and nowhere, belonging to this one single moment in time. And it feels infinite.
But this is much more profound than just characters and worldbuilding; it’s a story that boldly points out the flaws of humanity and deftly explores the thin line separating us from AI. And it asks of us to answer a foreboding question: What is it that makes us human? Is it our empathy? Our pride? Or perhaps, our greed? It reaches into you, carves out a place in your mind, brushing against your very soul, and stays long after you turn the final page.
Among this, the ever-present theme of love is a constantly fluid element in the midst of an unchanging world. Not only romance, like any other book, but also platonic friendships and the bonds of found family. I especially admired how compellingly the relationships were written, which captured all the nuances I find in reality—how Nami forges strong connections with the people she wants to hold on to and how each character loves in their own way—it was absolutely breathtaking to read.
It is clear that this is only setup for the next book in the trilogy, but I never found myself bored. I was kept on my toes, constantly making theories and anticipating plot twists (god, they were so good), which only made me more intrigued. (There was one last twist at the end I did not see coming at all, and I just could NOT process it.)
The Infinity Courts is a story of contradictions—love and grief, life and death, lies and truths—a story that, once it seeps into your heart, you will truly realize how powerful it is. It left such an impact on me, that when I finished, I felt honored to witness the beauty that is this book. This really was such a solid fantasy debut; I don’t think any review I write could possibly begin to do it justice, and I can’t wait to see what Bowman will take this series next.
representation // ownvoices biracial (Japanese, white) protagonist
content warnings // references to torture, death, gun violence, threat