Premise: The teenage daughter of a mysterious technology tycoon experiences dreams that suggest her past is not what she remembers.
For fans of The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Divergent, and The Star Dwellers
As a reader, I follow YA lit from a distance, occasionally picking up a suggestion from Amazon or a Goodreads “best of” list for the sake of unadulterated entertainment and relaxation. Infinity Lost is a promising twist on the roaring YA sci-fi/ dystopian genre. The premise had me hooked: dissident teenage heroines, Big-Brother-like mega corporations, abstruse dream sequences – who wouldn’t be curious?
I’ll cut to the chase: The premise was the book’s strongest moment. Infinity struggled to pony up when it came time to pay off my expectations. I anticipated a fast-paced, easy-to-digest story with an engaging female protagonist, but was disappointed when it didn’t kick back my justified assumptions.
Risky Narrative Structure
I like a good dare, especially when it involves grammar and writing. Rules aren’t meant to be broken; they’re meant to be shattered, but only when they enhance communication between the author and audience. Infinity broke quite a few rules in it’s narrative structure but left me with the impression these mistakes were simple oversite, as if the author broke guidelines without realizing they existed in the first place.
Take dream sequences for example. Introducing your protagonist in a dream is risky because it doesn’t provide context. This doesn’t mean you should never ever start a scene or a story with a dream sequence, but you should so with the intention of enhancing the character and the narrative, not leaving your audience grasping for information they expect, like the character’s gender, location, age, or appearance.
The character arcs in Infinity left me with a lot of questions as well. Major players were introduced after the first plot point, killed off at odd times, and discretely removed from the sequence of events without explanation. One character in particular (I won’t spoil the surprise), raised a myriad of potential story elements but never actually made an appearance. In other words, the audience had good reason to expect a final confrontation that never happened.
Takeaway for Writers
Infinity Lost left me wanting more, but I won’t chalk it up to wasted time. The key is identifying potential and learning from it, figuring out problems in the books you absorb and learning how to solve them. The beauty of writing is you don’t always hit the nail on the head the first time. Writing a lousy story doesn’t make you a lousy writer, it gives you material to work with, to mold, and improve.
While some of the problems in Infinity were detrimental to my enjoyment of the book, I can definitely say I’ll pay closer attention to character arc and story structure in my own work moving forward.