Infinity refers to the number of characters in this book. Sherrilyn Kenyon introduces so many players, many of them from other books she has written—a number that also approaches infinity.
Okay, we kid. This book does have over two or three dozen characters, each one a demon, demon hunter, vampire, werewolf, or other supernatural creature. It can be intimidating to keep track of all them. That's why we're here for you with our thorough character profiles.
Our capacity for shameless plugs is also infinite.
Anyway, the title is actually a reference to something Bubba says when he and the gang are preparing to storm the bad guys' stronghold. "To infinity" (16.215), he says. According to Bubba, it's something his dad used to say. Bubba must be Buzz Lightyear, Jr., right? Well, except that they're not going to infinity and beyond. Just infinity.
Bubba explains his family motto like this: "Which means you keep going and going no matter what happens or what obstacles you meet. Over, under, around, or through" (16.219). If that motto is on Bubba's family crest, then the crest must also feature the Energizer bunny. In other words, infinity stands for the lengths Nick and his friends are willing to go to fight for what they believe is right. They will never quit.
In the bigger scheme of things, Infinity could also stand for Nick's eventual power. We're often reminded of his capacity to become the most powerful being in the universe.
And, of course, we have to mention that this one-word title beginning with In- allows Kenyon to come up with similar titles in her Chronicles of Nick series to confuse readers. Subsequent books include Invincible, Inconclusive, Inferno, Intensity Indecipherable, and Instinct.
Two of those are not real titles in this series. Yes. Can you guess which ones?
Reading Infinity is like watching an entire season of The Originals. Not only is it set in New Orleans, but there is so much supernatural mumbo jumbo flying around that you have no idea how it's all going to wrap up at the finale.
And it doesn't.
Of course it doesn't. Sherrilyn Kenyon wants you to move on to the next book.
This book has bullying, zombies, demons, a force called Dark-Hunters, time travelers (maybe?), dangerous prophecies (probably?), and more. Now, Kenyon does wrap up one major plot at the end of Infinity: the zombie plot. Thankfully, this plot ties in with a few other subplots, so we get a few plots closed up with a bright red bow. It's red because it's splattered with zombie blood.
So what happens? Well, Nick learns that his lab partner, Madaug, has created a video game that turns people into zombies. No, this isn't about ethics in video game journalism. Madaug did it to stop someone from bullying him and other kids. Digitally lobotomizing these bullies seemed like a safe remedy.
What Madaug didn't expect was for a group of vaguely defined, unnamed villains called mortents to steal the game and use it to zombify the good folks of New Orleans en masse. The mortents both want to control humans and to turn Nick to the dark side.
That brings us to the book's most complicated subplot, one that is clarified a bit but not resolved. There are three things we learn by the book's end.
The Mortents want Nick on the dark side, so they force him to play the video game in an attempt to get him to kill his peers.
He almost does it, too. He considers killing his bully, Stone Blakemoor. But Nick takes pity on Stone and lets him go. He realizes he doesn't care what his stupid bullies think, and he'd rather have true friends than people who only pretend to be his friend. This is all an instant revelation for Nick, and it's kind of out of left field—but it sure resolves the bullying plot.
Speaking of things flying in from left field, the zombie plot is resolved when Nick realizes that he can control zombies and shoot lightning from his hands. Why? Because he believes.
"Visualization. In order to make something happen, to become something else, you had to see it clearly in your mind. That was the first step of achieving success" (18.108). Yes, Nick's major power is Rhonda Byrne's The Secret. When Nick becomes super powerful, we're willing to bet that his sidekick will be Oprah.
After dissolving a few zombies, Nick gets a victory smooch from Nekoda (cue "oooooohs" from the audience) and receives a surprising invitation to move in with his mentor, Kyrian, so that he can learn what the lifestyles of the rich and famous are like from the inside.
To recap, Nick moves into a mansion, gets a date with a hot girl, and finds out he can control the dead in the span of about ten pages. Miami is sometimes called the Magic City, but that moniker might be more appropriate for New Orleans, at least in this world.
Everything else in the book, like Kyrian's true identity, what the deal is with Ambrose, and Nick's frenemyship with Acheron, is left until the next book. This one literally ends with the line "Oh crap. Here we go again" (Epilogue. 37-38), in case you didn't realize it was a cliffhanger.
Hang on tight.
There's more to New Orleans than streetcars, Bourbon Street, St. Louis Cemetery, and Café du Monde, but you won't find it in Infinity. Even though Nick seems to have lived in the city for all his life, he only seems to frequent the biggest tourist attractions. Kyrian even lives in the city's famed Garden District, in a house that looks more like a Greek temple than a place where normal people live.
The city really doesn't add much to the story. It could be set anywhere and basically be the same.
The year isn't explicitly stated in the text, but on her website, Sherrilyn Kenyon says Nick was born on December 21, 1982 (source). He's fourteen in Infinity, which means this book doesn't take place in 2010, when the book was published. Taking that into consideration, the Street Fighter game Nick receives might have been Super Street Fighter II Turbo, which came out in 1994. And because Walker, Texas Ranger would have been in its prime, the dated Chuck Norris references make a little more sense.
But what about the cell phone? Kyrian gives Nick a cell phone and warns him, "Don't abuse your minutes or texts. I get a ten-thousand-dollar bill in one month and I will choke you for it" (6.196). We don't get a description of the phone, so perhaps it look like this blocky device.
Anyway, the 90s setting explains why Kyrian doesn't have an unlimited family plan: minutes were expensive in the mid-90s. But texting was almost unheard of. According to Mashable, "the average American sent 0.4 texts per month in 1995" (source)—so Nick is way ahead of the tech curve.
We're overanalyzing the alleged date of the story takes for fun, of course. Like the setting, it's basically irrelevant to the story, which could take place any time, anywhere. Or at least any time after the birth of Chuck Norris.
Many parts of New Orleans, where this book is set, are below sea level. That can cause problems, to put it mildly, especially during hurricane season. But this book will cause very few problems for readers. The dialogue is conversational, the plot is fast-paced, and the words and sentence structure are very easy to understand. Nick sometimes lapses into colloquial speech, and he sometimes uses double negatives, so don't look to him as a grammatical role model. But it's not like anything he says is hard to understand.
Every hero of a fantasy story needs a magical artifact. Frodo has the One Ring. Daenerys Targaryen has her dragon eggs. And Harry Potter has enough magical gadgets to fill a few aisles at the Hogwarts branch of Toys 'R' Us. Nick doesn't want to be left out, so he gives himself a couple of dazzling artifacts, too.
Yes, we said "gives himself." Ambrose, who is a future version of Nick, gives Nick two magical artifacts: a book and a sword. How did Ambrose get them? Did he get them because a future version of himself gave them to him, too? We have no idea how time travel works. The only thing guaranteed about time travel is that it gives you a migraine.
But time travel isn't the point here. The point is the magical artifacts. First, the blade. According to Ambrose, "It can be a sword, a dagger, or a knife" (16.77). Versatility is this weapon's biggest strength. It can be shrunk to pocket size and increased in length to fit any situation…any situation in which zombies need beheading, that is.
What else can the blade do? Can it grow jagged edges in case Nick wants to be a lumberjack? Can it shrink to the size of a letter opener to help Nick answer Kyrian's correspondence? We'll have to wait and see.
Ambrose also gives Nick a book. Not only can this help pass the time while Nick is waiting in line at the grocery store, but it also tells the future. At least in theory. That's what it's supposed to do.
The thing is that the grimoire needs blood to operate. Why? Because magical reasons. Nick must prick his finger (another good use for his blade), and if he touches the book with the pricked finger, the book will give him advice.
Does it also measure his blood sugar?
The bloodsucking book has an attitude, though. Its advice is cryptic and sarcastic, as if it were written by a vampiric, clairvoyant David Sedaris. When Nick asks it how to get out of a cage, the book totally says, "Here you are and here you'll stay/until you learn a better way" (17.86). Wow, thanks for the help. Nick would be better off asking a Magic 8 Ball for life hacks. It would be less sassy.
Bowser. Ganondorf. Senator Joe Lieberman. What do they all have in common? Besides being magical shape-shifters, all three men are classic video game villains. Bowser battles Mario. Ganondorf attempts to slay Link. And Joe Lieberman fought against the entire video game industry.
Lieberman headed a high-powered hearing on video game violence in the early 90s, which eventually led to the video game rating system we have today. He believed that video game violence equated to or sparked real violence (source).
It's difficult to tell where Sherrilyn Kenyon falls on this argument. In one corner, we have Nick, who loves video games. When in the hospital, he wants a Nintendo to pass the time. "I'd kill for Nintendo" (3.32), he tells Nekoda. Don't say that too loud, Nick, or Lieberman will come after you.
Nekoda brings Nick her "Nintendo," which is really vague. Considering this book might be set in the mid-90s, it could actually be a black-and-pea-soup-green original Game Boy she lends Nick. If so, we hope she gives him a sack of AAs to keep the juice flowing. As Nick says, "Systems were personal" (3.60), and he takes it as a compliment and a signal of trust that Nekoda lends her system to him.
So that's one positive representation of video games. But in the other corner, we have Madaug. who designs a video game that literally makes people violent. While playing it, Nick thinks, "With every kill he felt more powerful. More invincible" (17.151-17.152). This is how some people imagined the mindset of the Columbine killers, who were fans of the game Doom (source).
Is the game just a plot device, or is it a commentary on video game culture? It's up to you to decide. All that we know for sure is that the bad guys want to use Madaug's game to turn all teens into mindless killers. That's assuming teens would want to play this game, which involves an ancient evil, a fair princess, and a ton of other tired video game tropes. Maybe Nick gets angry because the game is so unoriginal.
Zombies aren't real. Yeah, we said it. That means authors can put their own personal spin on the mythology. Don't worry—Sherrilyn Kenyon isn't making zombies sparkle, but she does stretch the definition of what you may think a zombie is.
There are multiple types of zombies in Kenyon's universe. There's the tried-and-true decaying corpse type of zombie. But there are also zombies who are a little less crumbly, which means they are faster, smarter, and more dangerous than the walking dead. Bubba explains it like this: "Most times bokors use corpses, but they don't have to. There's been lots of studies of chemical-induced zombies who weren't dead first" (5.123).
Bokor-created zombies are similar to traditional voodoo zombies. That's appropriate, since this book is set in New Orleans, a traditional center of voodoo. These zombies are a random threat, just like the other supernatural characters in this book, creatures like vampires and werewolves. Chemical-induced zombies are more like zombies from the video game Resident Evil, which is frequently alluded to in this text. See our "Shout-Outs" for every reference to this creepy franchise.
Kenyon creates a brand-new kind of zombie: the video game zombie. We dissected this (gross pun intended) a bit in our section on video games. But these "zombies" create a complication for Nick. Their zombie-tude is temporary.
In horror movies, you always encounter the best friend/former lover/parent who is turned into a zombie and must be tragically killed by the friend/lover/child. It's always a metaphorical gut-wrenching moment, in contrast to the literal gut-wrenching moments when the zombies disembowel something.
Killing isn't an option for the video-game zombies. These fast-moving violent zombies are Nick's classmates. They're not his friends, but he still can't kill them in cold blood…mainly because their blood is so warm. That makes these zombies more dangerous to fight. They have to be subdued instead of killed, because they can be turned back to normal.
Nick and pals make a shocking discovery when they learn that an electric jolt restores these zombies' brains to normal. In many zombie stories, the most effective weapon is a shotgun to the head. Here, the most effective weapon is a cattle prod.
Depending on how deep you want to take your analysis, consider the fact that Nick is a lone wolf who acts the way he wants to act, and not how society wants him to act. He doesn't want to be a part of group just to be popular. Yet the people who run in groups are turned into zombies to be zapped like cattle. Fun plot device, or cultural commentary? You be the judge.