Recommended: eh, I guess
Cool concept, weak execution. Probably come for the series / idea more than the characters or plot or world-building or moral questions….
Expected Release: 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.
What I liked about this book is probably what everyone who reads this is drawn to: the interesting premise of a human-designed AI taking over the human afterlife. WHAT. AN AMAZING. IDEA. And probably a new fear for a lot of people. This premise is so unique and cool that I can see a lot of similar content sprouting up after people get wind of this idea. And I liked the end, and that may be it’s saving grace to keep me reading this series. I’ll probably give it a second chance to improve.
What I disliked about this book was almost everything else. It wasn’t awful but compared to my high expectations, it was a real letdown. The main character doesn’t interest me much. The “love interest” was not appealing at all, and the romance felt very poorly established to warrant the emotions they proclaim. Even the plot was very basic in a lot of ways. Most of the complexity came from the main characters’ own struggles with morality and good versus evil and all of the gray area that comes with it. Some of that included interesting takes, but most was arguments and ideas posed thousands of times over thousands of years. It became an unsatisfying mix of war-book / court-book / morality-debate.
Overall, this book had a strong concept but uninteresting characters. They felt very flat and one track, which did help with beating home the themes quite clearly. The plot picked up around the end, and I’m now interested in the next book. There were a few turns that surprised me, and worked. Concept & plot are okay, the writing style is basic, and characters are simple.
I have to mention this sentence because it really turned me off and is a clear example of a problem I felt often with the writing style itself: it was just trying too hard and ended up losing any actual meaning.
“Side by side our faces are polarizing, like an enchantment of ravens lost in a sky of cotton candy.”
If you love that sentence, you’ll probably enjoy the book.
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.