Akemi Dawn Bowman is one of my favorite authors. I’ve loved all of her books since Starfish to Harley in the Sky. So when I saw that Bowman was going to write a SF duology I may have shrieked a little. Favorite authors meets favorite genres? Match made in heaven. Keep reading this book review to see if this book lived up to my hype.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
The Infinity Courts is a book with one of those fabulous world building seeds. It’s a book where you’re never sure of what’s happening. Where you can feel this subtle tension and hint of wrongness from the beginning. As our technology advances, The Infinity Court almost seems eerie. Can you imagine expecting paradise and instead walking into a war? Survival and existence aren’t the same thing – something Nami comes to learn quickly. I had so many notes about questions Bowman asks about sides in a conflict, rebellion, and being a hero.
I had an emotional roller coaster affair with Nami. At the beginning I loved her quirkyness and nerdy references. And her love for her sister? I could never begrudge that motivation. But as she is thrown into this Chosen One role and people look at her to “be a hero”, I had more trouble with her character. I think partly this is because Nami struggles to figure out what the right thing to do. If the Residents are what we think and if we could be helping more people. In some ways I understood this desire, to rebel against being someone else’s weapon.
So much of it has to be the ways the other humans are looking up to her, expecting things of her, and her own desire to be in control. But at the same time, Nami is walking headfirst into a conflict borne of decades (time works differently there) of pain, trauma, and grief. However, that’s also Nami’s character – she wants to see the best in people, she is not one to give up hope quickly, and she’s determined (even when it has questionable consequences). But by the end, I had a much better sense of Nami, and I think she did too!
(Oh, another side note, I was not feeling the romance at all. And my feelings only got more complex by the end).
The Infinity Courts was a well paced start to what promises to be a fabulous duology. Based on the ending, I need the second one immediately. Bowman’s SF debut asks important questions about ethics. About the greater good versus individual lives. The costs of rebellion and collateral damage. I thoroughly enjoyed the world building seed as well as the ethical questions Bowman explores. If you loved the premise, you can’t miss this one!