Stephanie's Reviews > Infinity

Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon
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Jun 25, 10

bookshelves: young-adult, fantasy
Read on June 11, 2010 — I own a copy

When asked to pick a book out of my rather extensive to-read pile, my partner went straight for Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Infinity, and it’s not difficult to see why. It’s a beautiful looking book, with a gorgeously moody cover that gleams with a subtle foiling effect.

I should start out by noting that Infinity is a prequel to Kenyon’s popular Dark Hunters series, and tells the story of how Nick Gautier came to be who, and what, he is. It is also, unlike Kenyon’s other work in this world, firmly targeted at a YA audience, which is something that readers should bear in mind before picking it up. Unfortunately, it’s a book that’s quite difficult to read without being familiar with the other books in the series, and as a newcomer to Kenyon’s work myself, I found myself struggling to find my feet for quite a lot of the novel.

Nick Gautier is a lippy scholarship kid at a posh private school that is rather grudging about having him, and his gaudy second-hand Hawaiian shirts, dirty its school grounds. Nick is fiercely aware of the contrast between the life he leads with his mother, a high-school drop-out who works as an exotic dancer at the local club, and the more charmed existence of his peers. This angst is matched by a fearsome temper, and it’s not uncommon to see Nick, when he’s not mouthing off at someone, launching into a fight with anyone who looks at him the wrong way. Nick is teetering on the knife edge between good and bad, and it’s this that sets a series of life-changing events into action. After Nick saves an elderly couple from a mugging, getting himself shot in the process, he suddenly finds himself in the employ of mysterious Kyrian, and a whole set of supernatural events begins to unfold. Nick finds himself fending off myriad zombies, demons, and all sorts of oddities, and we learn that he has a substantial role to play in the fight against—or perhaps for—evil.

There is a lot of potential in this book, but unfortunately for the most part it doesn’t live up to it. Kenyon’s skill is definitely her pacing, and after a very slow beginning, it’s fair to say that the book picks up pace until it’s fairly ripping along. However, this pacing, when combined with the knowledge required of her previous books, and a very sudden introduction of all sorts of paranormal elements, places quite a burden on a reader unfamiliar with the author’s previous work. Kenyon takes a lot of short cuts when it comes to characterisation, perhaps because she is assuming some prior knowledge, and for this reason few of the characters ever seem to come to life. There are a few characters who do carry the book—Nick’s mum and the gun-totin’ brainiac Bubba, but even these are painfully caricatured/ Where Kenyon does attempt to infuse some characterisation into the book, she labours the point somewhat, and I find myself gritting my teeth at Nick’s constant reiteration of his poverty and about his mother’s heart of gold. The writing itself does not especially stand out, either, with such gems as ‘the zombie bit her on the head’ being rather more funny than disturbing.

The book makes rather fearsome use of coincidences to the point that one can’t help but wonder if there’s a pantheon of Greek gods on standby waiting to step in (and at some points this is actually the case). In addition, some of the plot points are difficult to swallow (or even follow) and I can imagine a savvy YA audience raising an eyebrow here and there. A sudden zombie invasion of New Orleans, for example, is apparently the result of a special computer game that has the unwitting side effect of turning people into flesh-eating shufflers. While this might have legs as an episode of one of the weaker seasons of Buffy, it’s a bit more difficult to stomach in a novel, even if that novel is trying very hard to be snarky and funny.

The constant snark of the novel is another point I took issue with, as while there were some definite dialogical highlights, having an entire book of characters who kept trying to one-up each other with snide, witty retorts did become tiresome after a while (as did Nick’s rather frequent refrain of ‘Gah’). Still, I can imagine that some readers will likely enjoy the verbal slanging matches rife throughout the book.

While I would not recommend Infinity as a starting point to Kenyon’s work, those who are more familiar with her oeuvre may find that many of the problems I’ve noted are rather less of an issue for them, and may well enjoy it as a quick rainy afternoon read.
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