TITLE: The Infinity Courts
AUTHOR: Akemi Dawn Bowman
PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse
RELEASE DATE: April 6th, 2021
CATEGORY: Young Adult (YA)
GENRE(S): Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Representation: Biracial Asian main character (Japanese and white), queer side character
Content + Trigger Warnings: death, murder, gun violence, references to torture, underage drinking (mention), mild gore, injuries/wounds, mind manipulation/control, nightmares (trauma related), forced servitude, threat, references to war
Rating: ★★★★ 4/5
DISCLAIMER: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book from the publisher as part of my participation in this tour. Nevertheless, this review reflects my honest and unbiased opinions.
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.
Growing up, I devoured just about any sci-fi/fantasy books I could get my hands on. However, being a multiracial person, it was difficult to find any books in the genre with characters who looked like me or that I felt represented by. Naturally, my interest was instantly piqued when I learned about the upcoming release of The Infinity Courts. While Akemi Dawn Bowman was a new-to-me author, I had heard high praise of her writing from friends and was eager to read a sci-fi starring a biracial protagonist who, like me, is of Japanese ancestry. I try not to have any expectations when going into a fresh reading experience, but The Infinity Courts delivered everything I’d been craving and more. Combining the technological musings of Black Mirror with the high-stakes feel of Marie Lu’s Warcross, Akemi Dawn Bowman manages to create a refreshingly unique concept. Days after finishing the book, my mind is still racing from the thrill ride, and I’m already itching to reread it when I get the chance.
The Infinity Courts delivers an emotional gut punch early on in the story, as Nami Miyamoto reaches her untimely end just after graduating from high school and must come to terms with the loss of her future and loved ones in the living world. Rather than waking up in a peaceful afterlife, she discovers that the place has been infiltrated by an AI called Ophelia, who forces the humans into servitude and is planning to eradicate them entirely. Before she can fully acclimate to her new reality in Infinity–a continued existence for the human consciousness after death–Nami is thrust into the midst of a rebellion. As she becomes increasingly enmeshed in the struggle to save humanity, Nami must grapple with questions about her past life, her continued existence, and what truly makes us human.
In Infinity, Bowman manages to construct a dazzling and atmospheric world that I quickly found myself immersed, while still leaving mysteries to be uncovered as the series continues. The writing is rich with lush descriptions, but not overpoweringly so as to leave nothing to the imagination. Bowman’s writing style made me feel swept up in each scene, painting backdrops, outfits, landscapes, and people so vividly that I could clearly picture them. The first half of the book is reminiscent of mounting a rollercoaster’s incline, feeling the steady build of anticipation as you brace for the inevitable rush. Although The Infinity Courts is nearly five hundred pages long, the thriller-like tension of the book kept me flying through the chapters with an urgency to see how it would wrap up. One of the gripping parts of the book is that I can all too clearly imagine a future in which artificial intelligence takes over the world. The Infinity Courts presents the terrifying possibilities of a not-so-distant future. The twists and turns as it reaches its conclusion quite literally made my heart race and my jaw drop! I have not stopped mentally revisiting the ending since I read the final page. I can easily see myself picking up the book again multiple times to scour for any additional details I may have missed during my first read!
Another aspect of The Infinity Courts that I loved is how multi-faceted and human the characters feel. Nami has a great amount of heart and fierce determination, but she is also dealing with lack of confidence in herself and her abilities. It was all too easy for me to relate to Nami’s reluctance to rely on others and the feelings of indebtedness towards the people helping her. For some, Nami’s internal dialogue as she tries to sort out her thoughts and feelings might make the pacing feel slow. However, I appreciated this insight into the main character’s mind and felt that being able to follow her internal struggles–with self-doubt, emotions, and questions of morality–throughout the book adds texture to the story. The authenticity and flaws Bowman layers into her characters allow me to better connect with and emotionally invest in them.
Gil starts off as a prickly pear sort of enigma whose layers you want to peel back. After getting to know him better through Nami’s perspective and seeing more of his backstory unfold, I developed more empathy towards Gil and could understood his hesitation to trust. We didn’t get to delve into many of the side characters in this first book, but there were some on both sides of the human-AI conflict that I am curious to learn more about in the rest of the series. Through Nami, Gil and the cast of The Infinity Courts, Bowman creates a thought-provoking exploration of the nuances of right versus wrong, free will and agency, and the concept of humanity. Many times throughout the novel, I had to pause to consider each character’s motivations and what choices I might make if I were in any of their shoes. The layered complexity of the characters lends to their arcs and makes the emotions experienced while reading all the more palpable.
Overall, The Infinity Courts is a highly engaging and immersive read. It’s the type of book I wish a younger me had been able to read, to relate to and see herself represented in Nami. Nevertheless, I am utterly grateful this book has found its way into the world today. I highly recommend it to fans of sci-fi and fantasy, especially anyone looking for more diversity in the genre. Though this is the first book I have read from this author, it certainly will not be the last! In a way, I’m thankful to only be discovering her books now so that I can read the others as I wait for the next installment of The Infinity Courts to be released. This book will certainly be on my mind for days–if not weeks–to come, and I cannot wait to read more of Akemi Dawn Bowman’s work in the future!
All my thanks to Turn the Page Tours, Akemi Dawn Bowman, and Simon Pulse for providing me with an ARC of The Infinity Courts in exchange for an honest review!
Many thanks to turnthepagetours for allowing me to participate in this blog tour! Check out the rest of the wonderful tour reviews by clicking the banner above!
★ GIVEAWAY INFORMATION ★
Up for grabs, we have TWO (2) finished copies of The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman. This giveaway will be open to US residents only and will run from April 4th to April 12th at 12 AM CST. To enter, click the link below!
GIVEAWAY LINK: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d31/?
Akemi Dawn Bowman is a critically-acclaimed author who writes across genres. Her novels have received multiple accolades and award nominations, and her debut novel, STARFISH, was a William C. Morris Award Finalist. She has a BA in social sciences from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and currently lives in Scotland with her husband and two children. She overthinks everything, including this bio. You can find Akemi on Instagram @AkemiDawnBowman.
How would you react if you found out an AI had gained sentience and was trying to eradicate humans? Let me know in the comments! Honestly, the first thing I would do is probably have an anxiety attack.