Trigger Warning: mental health, depression, self-harm.
The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen is the first installment in “The Bright Sessions” trilogy, the novelized version of one of the subplots in the “Bright Sessions” podcast and can be rightly summarised as YA gay(er) X-Men. It’s perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper series.
The Infinite Noise Review
I started The Infinite Noise without many expectations and the opening did nothing to change my mind. It didn’t take long though, for Adam and Caleb to smash through every one of my defenses.
This dual perspective book is the king of slow burns and cutest moments (there’s a mixtape, people!) and despite being lengthy, it never feels like it because each chapter is extremely short, making the reader feel like they can never get enough of our boys instead of getting tired of their back and forward.
Caleb was written masterfully. Here’s a teenager that is written as a good person, loves his family, is not a bully and wants to be in touch with his emotions. (No, that is not the fantasy part of the book). Also, I loved how therapy is one of Caleb’s biggest tools to improve his mental health and general wellbeing and how his sessions are never described as a waste of time or how it was never suggested that he was in any way broken or weak for needing help.
Caleb is such an incredible character because he feels real: he is a good person but he doesn’t always want to do the right thing and has to be pushed into it, he loves his family but his parents sometimes get on his nerves and he feels unheard and misunderstood because he is written like a teenager.
But it was Adam that immediately found his way to my heart even knowing that the chances of him breaking it were incredibly high.
The descriptions of Adam’s dark days were absolutely masterful and a huge reason as to why this book affected me the way it did. It felt like if the author had given me cement shoes and pushed me into the sea.
The parental figures are also described in a very honest way: both boys have supportive and loving families but the author makes sure they are flawed as well, making parents into people and not altars of perfection.
The writing was so rich, so descriptive, so masterful that I saw, felt, and tasted everything the characters did and made reading this book something to enjoy instead of finish.
The prompt is simple: some people have superpowers but instead of being heroes and putting themselves in danger, they go to therapy.
Caleb is able to perceive emotions as auras but can also be physically influenced by those other people’s state of mind, especially negative ones, which are impossible to avoid when you are in high school.
The only fault I can find in this book is that Adam’s character arc feels very incomplete because although the reader is aware of what is wrong with him, he never acknowledges it so other than getting a boyfriend that can feel his depression, nothing changes in his life. While I fully agree that Adam is more than his diagnosis, I can’t help but feel robbed of the opportunity to see Caleb taking care of him and more importantly seeing Adam acknowledge that is not alright and he needs help, which feels like the entire point of this novel.
Conclusion for The Infinite Noise
I didn’t particularly like how quickly the story wrapped up, in fact, I felt that a lot was left unsaid and unexplained even knowing there is a sequel in the works. I was at least satisfied with the happy note in which we leave Caleb and Adam’s relationship and I’m really looking forward to meeting them again.
Review based on the DRC kindly provided by Edelweiss+ and Tor Teen.
Liked this book? Good news, the sequel is called A Neon Darkness and is coming out at the end of the year.