Goodreads: The Infinity Courts
Series: The Infinity Courts #1
Source: ARC from the publisher
Publication Date: 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.
The Infinity Courts is a spellbinding story about death, family, and fighting for what you believe it is right. While books about artificial intelligence and questions about what it means to be “real” and whether it’s wrong to hurt or kill an AI have obviously been done before, Bowman brings heart and creativity to the questions and lets readers seem them through the eyes of protagonist Nami. Readers will be as torn as she is, wondering if humans and an out-of-control AI can learn to coexist and what it means ethically to decide they cannot. The result is a captivating book that will have readers glued to the pages for the plot even as they ponder some of the big questions of life. (Or, er, of death?)
Personally, I tend to struggle with books that depict some version of the afterlife because I never quite connect with the author’s vision of it, but the fact that Bowman’s version (Infinity) is so far outside the bounds of how I’d ever imagine an afterlife was an advantage here. Seeing the afterlife portrayed almost like a fantasy dystopia (rather than a religious or philosophical place where one needs to come to term with one’s actions on Earth) allowed me to focus on the points Bowman – and Nami – make about human nature and our desires. For instance, upon finding that Infinity isn’t quite what she would have imagined either, Nami becomes invested in making the afterlife a better place, somewhere she hopes her younger sister can one day come to and be happy, rather than a place she should fear. It also forces Nami to ask tough questions about what it means if there is no heaven and hell, if the “good” are not separated from the “bad.”
The plot and world building all also excellent. Bowman hints at, well, an infinity world with myriad landscapes and tons of residents while focusing the story on Nami and her found family and their efforts to save humans from the evil schemes of the AI. She paints vivid scenes of both opulence and pain and walks readers, along with Nami, through all of them. I couldn’t wait to wait out what Nami would do or where she would go next, and I know there’s still so much to discover about this world and everyone’s powers in it.
This is all grounded in Nami, who chafes at the idea of being a hero, or someone strong, even though her death – the very reason she is in Infinity – can be characterized as heroic. Even as she seeks to become physically and mentally stronger, I appreciated that her biggest strengths were always her kindness and her ability to imagine a better world. While the other humans have been in Infinity long enough to become tired and disillusioned, Nami always hopes she can find a different way to bring happiness to everyone.
The Infinity Courts is a standout YA novel. I can’t wait to finish reading the series, and I would unreservedly recommend this to anyone.