The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen
Published: Tor Teen (September 24th 2019)
Genre: young adult; contemporary, science-fiction
Rep: mlm mc, gay mc with depression
Rating: 2/5 🍑
ARC provided by the publisher.
You know that picture of a horse that starts really beautiful & detailed and ends like something drawn by a three-year-old? That’s this book.
It starts really good, fun even, with a dual first person pov. It’s engaging, it’s interesting, it’s intriguing. You think you’re safe. You think you’re reading a solid four stars book. And then, in the last fifty pages or so, the spell breaks. (And you catch yourself thinking of all the little things you were overlooking up until now, because on the whole the book still was good.)
So first of all, even though there’s dual pov, it’s Caleb’s story. It never felt like Adam was an mc too, like this was his story too. Caleb can feel other people’s emotions, which is a great concept for a story, let’s be real. And for the most part the book was doing a pretty decent job of balancing the science-fiction aspect & the romance aspect. It worked, they were blending together pretty well. The romance was usually winning, but still.
But then we get to a conclusion in the romance sub-plot, all that tension leading up to it gets released, there’s a beautiful, sweet moment and… We’re left with ¼ of the book. Now, I’m not against books taking the time to develop an actual relationship, in fact, those are some of my favourites. It didn’t feel like that here, though. The relationship didn’t actually progress, or at least: we weren’t shown that progression.
Because in that last part of the book, the author tried to fit in so many new characters & conflicts alongside the gaping problem of the relationship. There was so much going on, we didn’t have time to actually pay attention to anything. The pacing just went and died on us. It kind of seems like the author was too comfortable with her characters and the story as a whole, due to having written The Bright Sessions podcast before. It’s like she already knew it all & had time to flesh it out in the podcast, so then didn’t think twice before dropping it in the book, as well. Only, we don’t get that same introduction here.
The solution I would see to this is either getting the Romantic Conclusion sooner, so we would have more time for all this other stuff, or just being brave and making two books out of this. As it is, it makes no sense.
There’s no emotional punch behind it! There’s no space for angst. Literally. There’s a period of time when the boys don’t speak to each other after a fight and the chapters suddenly get shorter (and by shorter, I mean like paragraph long). And then the whole conflict gets resolved in one conversation, basically. No! Emotional! Punch!
It doesn’t make it better if you just think of The Infinite Noise as a companion material to The Bright Sessions podcast. The book doesn’t actually shine more light on anything, doesn’t introduce anything new, doesn’t give us another perspective. Even with the Adam’s pov, we still don’t learn more than from the podcast itself. It’s rather simply like the podcast in book form, actually. (And the podcast is better, even if only because it gives us time-jumps, so we can fill in all the angst in our heads ourselves. Which the short chapters were probably trying to do and failed miserably.)
And then there’s the fact that Adam’ and Caleb’s voices are pretty much indistinguishable. If not for the plot, I couldn’t tell them apart. Which makes one wonder, what was the point of a dual pov in the first place? It doesn’t really give the readers any extra insight.
All in all, The Infinite Noise is a disappointment. It starts really well, gives you hope for something great, only to snatch it away near the end. It’s a weird potluck of good writing, great main characters, a really cool story & absolutely awful pacing. Just listen to The Bright Sessions podcast instead.
Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old champion running back. Other than that his life is pretty normal. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.”
Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb’s ability is extreme empathy—he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb’s life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam’s feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb’s feelings in a way that he can’t quite understand.
Caleb’s therapist, Dr. Bright, encourages Caleb to explore this connection by befriending Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist—who seems to know a lot more than she lets on—and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.
Are you looking forward to this book?
Have you maybe read it already?
What are your thoughts?