From the BLURB:
Teenager Nick Gautier thinks he knows everything. Streetwise, tough and savvy, his quick sarcasm is renowned. But his whole world is suddenly turned upside down on the night his best friends try to kill him.
Saved by a mysterious warrior, Nick is sucked into the realm of the Dark-Hunters - immortal vampire-slayers who risk everything to save humanity - and he quickly learns that the human world is only a veil for a much larger and more dangerous one that's filled with all kinds of evil. However, before he can even learn the rules of this new world, his fellow students start turning into flesh-eating members of the undead.
Nick knows he's in real danger and he soon has a lot more to deal with than starting high school: he's under pressure to hide his new friends from his mother and his chainsaw from the principal while trying to impress the girl he has a crush on ? all without getting grounded, suspended...or killed.
In Kenyon’s world vampires do *NOT* sparkle. They are savage undead soul-eaters who pray on humanity. And all that stands between humanity and these vampiric ‘Daimons’ are the Dark Hunters. Born of Greek Gods, neither living nor dead, the Dark Hunter’s are our secret salvation. Our only salvation.
‘Infinity’ is set roughly 10 years before the first book in Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter book, ‘Night Pleasures’. ‘Infinity’ is the first book in what will be a YA spin-off series called ‘Chronicles of Nick’. The series will follow Nick Gautier, a seemingly average 14-year-old teenage boy who is plucked from normalcy to become a squire-in-training to a Dark Hunter called Kyrian.
In ‘Infinity’, Nick finds himself dealing with jock zombies. Kick-ass girl crushes. A blue man with horns and a killer Porsche 911 Turbo. All in a squires work, really.
The adult ‘Dark Hunter’ series is currently 27-books deep, with two new releases due this year. I've always intended to get stuck into the books, but could never muster the strength to go hunting for the first few in the series. I’m actually really glad that I read ‘Infinity’ before any of the other Dark Hunter books – because Nick’s story is set before the DH series, I get all the back story for characters who are already established.
‘Infinity’ does what lots of other vampire YA fiction has failed to do – appeal to young males. I think teenage boys have been largely forgotten in the wake of ‘Twilight’ and the vampire craze – most vamp fiction is written to appeal to teenage girls, especially when most books riff off of the Edward/Bella immortal love story.
Once upon a time Dracula and vampire mythology would have been the perfect fit for YA male readers, especially because the fantasy genre was thought to be their realm, while touchy-feely ‘coming of age’ YA books were supposedly written for girls. But ‘Twilight’ changed all that. Girls became fantasy fans and where demonic vampires would have once been the reading turf of their male counterparts, the sub-genre was inundated with paranormal romance reads.
Adult fans of ‘Dark Hunter’ will enjoy ‘Infinity’ for the prologuing back-story to the main series and fan-favourite characters. Female YA readers will pretty much read anything with the word ‘vampire’ in the blurb, and the fact that this is a spin-off of a popular adult paranormal romance series will no doubt intrigue. ‘Infinity’ also has a romance, with Nick crushing on a candy-striper with a dark secret. But Young Adult female readers will especially like the fact that the protagonist of ‘Infinity’ is a broody young man with an old soul and a tough attitude – the Cajun accent doesn’t hurt either.
Nick is living in two worlds. He’s a scholarship kid at a private school, bullied everyday for his mother’s exotic dancer job and his op-shop clothing. His only real friends are young delinquents who make money mugging tourists. And his father was a small-time criminal who died while doing a stint in jail. Nick and his mother live hand-to-mouth and some days don’t have enough money to put food on the table.
Nick’s life is hard. Kenyon doesn’t shy away from some rather vicious scenes that highlight Nick’s problems with bullies, and his growing up in a rough neighbourhood.
Pain exploded in Nick’s skull as he tasted blood.
“You’re going to pay for that, Gautier.”
The three of them descended on him so fast and furious that he couldn’t even seen to fight back. One minute he was standing and the next he was on the ground with his arms wrapped around his head to protect it from the gun Alan was beating him with. They stomped and beat on him until he lost all feeling in his legs and one arm.
Alan stepped back and angled the gun on him. “Say your prayers, Gautier. You’re about to become a statistic.”
Those loyal DH fans who are iffy about being thrown into a ‘squeaky-clean’ YA world can rest easy - Kenyon is writing a rather nitty-gritty, dark YA series. Her writing packs some serious punch, and certain scenes are flinch-worthy for their brutality. Not only will this appeal to YA males, but adult fans who are following from Kenyon’s DH series will no doubt recognize the sharp edges to the action-packed writing. But this is still YA, and occasionally the ‘horror’ scenes divulge into gruesome hilarity, especially when Nick’s school is overrun by flesh-eating jock zombies;
Frank cast a hungry look over to the group where Brynna and Casey were standing. “Oh man, if it is catching, I hope Casey Woods gets it and comes for me. If you gotta die, no better way to go than to get eaten by the head cheerleader.”
Jason high-fived him. “Yeah, all right. Sign me up for that too. I definitely want to be her chew toy.”
I liked the fact that Kenyon wasn’t talking down to her audience, instead choosing to revel in her vampiric mythology. Certain parts of ‘Infinity’ are fairly vicious and bleak – but that’s apart of Kenyon’s world, and indeed a by-product of vampire lore. It’s only in recent years that vampires have been handled with kid-gloves and tamed for a romance audience. Kenyon harks back to the more Gothic, nitty-gritty demons and it’s a joy to read.
I loved Nick – and because his voice is so strong and charismatic I will definitely be reading more books in his ‘Chronicles’ series. Nick is a wise-cracking kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Though only 14 he’s had to grow up quick, and not always in the best circumstances. He is plagued by his father’s criminal past, and hopes for his sake (and his mother’s pride) that he doesn’t go down the same path. But Nick really struggles when his environment and friends encourage him to go down that felonious route. Nick is really struggling in his life – he goes to the private school, but doesn’t fit in. He tries to stay on the straight and narrow, but that isn’t always possible in his neighbourhood. He’s a mass of contradictions (more so than average teenagers) and he compensates for his hard-times with a cracking wit. He’s hilarious, and an absolute joy to read. I can’t wait to see how Nick grows and is impacted by the hard-hitting Dark-Hunter world he gets caught up in.
I was quite surprised by how well ‘Infinity’ appeals to male readers – especially because Kenyon’s ‘Dark Hunter’ series is clearly geared toward a female readership, sitting firmly in the ‘paranormal romance’ sub- genre.
‘The Chronicles of Nick’ is a real writing departure for Kenyon, and an admirable change of pace considering she’s done so well in paranormal romance (27 books and counting!).
I think Kenyon did a fine job of exploring a new side to her writing with Nick’s spin-off. She’s not writing a ‘same-same’ Dark-Hunter series but with tamer romance – she’s really stepping outside her genre and readership and challenging her loyal fan-base to read outside their comfort zone. I certainly admire her for the change-up, and offer kudos for finding a new niche audience and gender readership.
The fact that I haven’t read any Dark-Hunter books didn’t impede my reading or enjoyment of ‘Infinity’. I could tell that certain characters were fan-favourites who Kenyon was delivering back-story on for the enjoyment of die-hard readers. But that only intrigued me enough to decide I would go back and re-read the Dark-Hunter books; it didn’t retract or confuse me during ‘Infinity’.
This is a dark, edgy and adrenaline-filled YA read. It’s exactly what a YA book should be – a non-stop thrill ride with bonus jock zombies, pretty girls and a quick-witted protagonist to enjoy the ride with. I loved this. I’d recommend it to men, women, YA boys, YA girls, long-time Dark-Hunter readers and Dark-Hunter virgins (like me).