Study Guide

Infinity: Chronicles of Nick Themes

  • The Supernatural

    Back in the 1930s, the supernatural consisted of being swept away to a fantasy world filled with lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Today, the supernatural trifecta is vampires, werewolves, and zombies, and they eat lions, tigers, and bears—and humans—for breakfast.

    Sherrilyn Kenyon's Infinity is a pastiche of almost every supernatural character you can think of. She's like Jackson Pollock, except instead of splattering paint all over a canvas, she sprays zombies here, squirts some werewolves here, and dots a few vampires into the rest of the white space for good measure. Even Artemis, the goddess of the hunt from Greek mythology, makes a cameo appearance.

    Questions About The Supernatural

    1. What supernatural creatures appear in Infinity? What aspects of monster mythology does Kenyon adhere to? How does she change monster mythology to fit her story?
    2. Speaking of mythology, what elements of Greek mythology appear in Infinity? Are these elements different from the Greek mythology you know?
    3. What are some brand-new supernatural creatures that show up in this book? How do you think they will play into the plot of future books?
    4. Does Nick change when he finds out he has powers? How do you think he will change as his powers get stronger?

    Chew on This

    Nick is poor and normal, and he longs for wealth and power. The supernatural creatures in this book promise him the opportunity for both.

    The supernatural is a poorly kept secret in this book. People talk about things like demons and werewolves out in the open and simply change the subject if someone eavesdrops.

  • Respect and Reputation

    In the South, you say "yes, sir" and "yes, ma'am," and you respect your elders. They brought you into this world, and they can take you out of it. Infinity is set in New Orleans, so the Southern culture is a big part of the interactions between the characters. Nick is expected to be polite and to address his mother and other adults with respect. Considering some of the adults are thousands of years old, they're really elder, so that means they deserve mega respect. At least that's the way they'd like things to be…

    Questions About Respect and Reputation

    1. Why is Nick's reputation so important to him? How does he deal with the fact that he is not popular? Does he try to change that?
    2. Does someone deserve respect just because he or she is older than you are? What if that person is an 11,000-year-old demon? Does that make that person worthy of respect?
    3. How does Nick earn respect from those older than he is?

    Chew on This

    Nick may be poor, but respect is a currency more valuable than money.

    At the end, Nick decides not to kill one of his bullies, because he wants to have a reputation as a good guy. His long-term reputation is more important than short-term satisfaction.

  • Violence

    Human history is fraught with violence. There has probably never been a moment when humans across the globe have been at peace. But it's been a few decades since the last World War, so maybe humans are becoming more peaceful.

    Cue zombies. Zombies aren't concerned with humanitarian efforts or peaceful protests. In Infinity, they want to devour other people in the most grotesque ways possible. They make a great enemy: real world wars have people who believe both sides are the "good" guys, but zombies are always the "bad" guys. At least until a Zombie Rights Campaign surfaces, if there isn't one on Tumblr already.

    Questions About Violence

    1. In what ways does violence help Nick achieve his goals? In what situations does it hurt him?
    2. Is the violence in this book always synonymous with evil? When is violence used for good purposes?
    3. Why do so many people in this book have crazy good fighting skills? Where did they learn them?

    Chew on This

    Almost all of Nick's powers are violence related—he learns kung fu moves, he gets a sword that changes shape, and he has a book that needs to be powered with blood.

    Nick must physically defend himself, but he has to be careful not to let his violence go too far. Whether or not he becomes Malachai seems to depend on him being able to keep his wrath in check.

  • Family

    Southerners love deep-fried food, air conditioning, and family. It helps that all these things go great together. Who doesn't love a family reunion potluck with the A.C. blasting full speed ahead?

    We can't imagine what a family reunion would look like for some of the characters in Infinity. Many of them are demons or supernatural creatures of some sort, so who knows what kind of dishes they eat. A few characters are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old, which means that their family trees are as big as California redwoods.

    Ironically, it's the most human character in the book, Nick, who has the smallest family. He's raised by a single mom, and his relationship with his deadbeat dad is complicated, to say the least. Being a human sure doesn't make family matters any easier.

    Questions About Family

    1. How does Nick feel about his father? What do you think his family life was like when his parents were together?
    2. How does Nick's mother feel about Nick's father, and vice-versa? Is it best that they're apart? Why does Adarian still care for Cherise? Do you believe him?
    3. Why does Nick worry about becoming the same as his father? Is he in danger of becoming like that man?

    Chew on This

    Madaug is pretty passive, or passive-aggressive, for most of the book. What prompts him to turn aggressive-aggressive is to rescue his family members when they are put in danger.

    One of the main reasons Kyrian takes Nick in is that Nick's family situation reminds him of his own, and he has sympathy for the kid.

  • Friendship

    People often become friends because they share interests. Maybe they have similar tastes in clothes. Or they play the same sports or video games. Or they both love going out and hunting vampires, zombies, and demons with the most deadly weapons at their disposal.

    Hey, these are factors you must consider when you live in New Orleans, the supernatural creepy-crawlie capital of the South.

    Nick begins Infinity with no friends. Well, he has his mom, but saying a boy's best friend is his mother is too Norman Bates even for this book. Nick feels isolated and alone because of his unpopularity. But once the people in his school learn what he can do when it comes to fighting zombies, they're happy to be on his side in battle…and maybe outside of battle, too.

    Questions About Friendship

    1. Why doesn't Nick have any friends? Does he try to make friends?
    2. Who does Nick become friends with over the course of the book? What do these characters have in common? What do they have in common with Nick?
    3. Nick sometimes refers to Acheron as his friend and sometimes as his enemy. Which is he? Can he be both?

    Chew on This

    Nick thinks Caleb is his friend, but Caleb has been sent by Nick's dad to watch him. However, Caleb grows to like and admire Nick as a person.

    Many of Nick's schoolmates turn out to be members of a super-secret society, and they tell Nick that's why they were mean to him. Perhaps they could have been friends if their duty to hunt monsters did not come first.

  • Wealth

    You've heard the phrase mo' money, mo' problems. But it's funny that it doesn't work the other way. No one ever says no money, no problems, because when you have no money, you still have problems. In fact, most people with no money would gladly accept a problem or two in exchange for being able to pay rent and put food on the table. Maybe there's a medium amount of money that hits the sweet spot.

    In Infinity, Nick and his mom fall into the no money and plenty of problems category. Because they are poor, they struggle to make ends meet. And because they struggle, people look down on them. A few bucks would be very welcome, and even though they have a few monsters to deal with in this book, by the time it's over, their fortunes have changed considerably.

    Questions About Wealth

    1. What problems does Nick have because of his poverty?
    2. How does Nick's lack of wealth set him apart from the other students at his school? How do they treat him?
    3. Does Nick do anything to increase his family's wealth, or does he come into it accidentally, as if he won the lottery?
    4. Do you believe Kyrian when he says that he has more problems because he has more money?

    Chew on This

    Nick's story is set into motion because he needs cash. If he weren't poor, he wouldn't have gone out with his hustler buddies, and his fate might have been different. It might have even been worse.

    Wealth puts Kyrian in a situation in which he can help Nick in ways he couldn't if he weren't richer than 99% of the population.

  • Love

    If you ask some people, they'll say that Twilightgave the theme of love in young adult novels a bad name. There's only so much being stared at for hours that a person can take before they go crazy, you know?

    Love isn't always about disabling someone's vehicle so they can't get away from you. There are other types of love than stalker love. There's romantic love. Familial love. And love between friends. In Infinity, Nick doesn't really have any friends. But he does have a loving relationship with his mother, who sees Nick as her one and only. And he even has a love interest to make googly eyes at. And no one stares at anyone while that person sleeps. It's a win-win-win.

    Questions About Love

    1. Why is Nick's mother overprotective?
    2. How might Nick's feelings for Kody change if he finds out who she really is?
    3. Does Nick's dad love him? Is Nick's dad still in love with Nick's mom?

    Chew on This

    Love can be dangerous. Nick having a crush on Kody brings him closer to her, but she might end up killing him. If she develops feelings for him, she might not be able to do her duty.

    The fate of the world might rely on Nick's love for his mother. It's hinted at that if he harms her, terrible things might happen to everyone. That's today's lesson, Shmoopers: love your mama.

  • Fate and Free Will

    When you're in high school, you feel like everything is out of your control. You still have to do everything your parents tell you to do. You have a rigid class schedule to obey. And you're always worried about turning evil and destroying the world, even though your fate might be ultimately out of your control.

    For Nick Gautier in Infinity, he not only has to deal with all the typical teenage stuff, but he also has to worry about getting a little too angry…because that very well might destroy the lives of everyone he loves. However, this is fate and free will we're talking about. Where does the free will come in? Well, Ambrose is an alternate version of Nick who is trying to change what happened in the past. Maybe Nick can change his destiny after all?

    Questions About Fate and Free Will

    1. What do you think Nick's fate is?
    2. Does Nick make changes to his fate during the course of the book? Or does he fail to change anything at all?
    3. Why does Ambrose want to change Nick's destiny? Would changing Nick's decisions cause Ambrose to cease to exist?