Have you ever picked up a book and not been able to put it down? Have you ever been gripped, enthralled, enticed so strongly by a fictional world, that you’re pulled in and locked there, until the story is over? Well, that’s what happened when I read these two books. I’ll try to keep it short and simple, I don’t want to give too much away.
First off, the plots of these books are so intriguing, they take so many twists and turns, it’s hard to predict what is about to happen, because just when you think you’ve cracked it, there’s another surprise waiting on the next page. I’ve always been interested in aliens, the discussion that surrounds them and if they are or are not, real. Personally, I think they are, because it’s quite sad really, to think we are the only planet with life on it, when there’s this huge universe with so many other planets.
The exploration of aliens and what is classified as alien, is what pulled me in first and what made me stay, was the fluidity of writing, the amazing plotline and wonderful characters. In a world where everything has gone to shit, to have such colourful and complex characters is a hard thing to find. Cassie, for starters, I love. She’s a ball of energy that fights for what she believes in, but she’s also vulnerable, she’s broken and alone, she’s not perfect, she has her internal battles and she longs for home. For me, she represents a lot of humanity’s characteristics, the persistence and drive to keep going, to keep fighting, to not let the world push you down. She knows it’s hopeless, she knows that she probably will die, but she keeps going. Why? Because she made a promise to her little brother. Who knew at the end of the world, something as small as a promise, would be so important? But promises are special things, they are bonds that hold people together, forever tied until the debt is paid, but it’s more than that, it’s hope, it’s love, it’s eternal, something that cannot be broken. It’s like saying ‘I’ve got you’, it’s a promise to keep going, to never give up, because giving up, is like admitting you’ve lost. And humans, don’t like to do that very much. It would be a tough thing, an awful thing, to do at the end of the world, stand there for humanity’s last stand.
But she does it. All while stuffing a teddy bear into her backpack.
Ben Parish is another of my favourite characters, besides Cassie and Evan, he’s hilarious and witty, he’s loyal and protective, in a world where such virtues have been ripped out from their roots and burnt. He’s a broken, hollow, bloodied and bent person, one who bleeds and cries, one who wishes for death, but continues fighting anyway. He is humanity at its weakest but also, at its strongest. Those moments where all seems lost and the smart thing would probably be to just lie down and take it, but something in you, something primal, something human, tells you, ‘no, you keep fighting and you keep fighting, until you can’t breathe, until you can’t see, hear, feel, smell, eat, until you can’t do anything but fall, bloodied and broken, cold and bitter, but still strong, still holding onto hope, still living for another day, because giving up is like admitting defeat, and humans don’t do that’. That’s what I love about Ben, he’s not perfect, he’s perfectly imperfect, he may look dead, may be called a ‘Zombie’, but he is far from it, he’s one of the human characters in this book.
Evan, the mysterious, helpful and stubborn Evan. He’s one of those characters that you know you shouldn’t trust, but you want them so badly to be good. He swoops in and saves Cassie, nursing her back to health. The whole time you’re thinking, ‘oh, look, that’s cute, someone still cares’, but at the same time you’re wondering, ‘who the hell is this guy?’ and then that leads onto ‘what if he’s with The Others?’. What I loved about these books was that the aliens, are not what you think they are. That is, they’re not small and green and have huge eyes. You don’t know what they look like. They are purely consciousness, they have no form, but have been downloaded into human bodies. I don’t think I’ve ever come across that idea before. And then even that is twisted in The Infinite Sea, are the aliens really aliens? Or are they humans, pretending to be aliens? By doing this, this book is able to question a lot of humanity’s morals/thoughts – ‘they look human, so they’re human’, for example, but how do you trust that instinct when you know that they may not be human? What then happens to humanity’s trust in a familiar face? You stop, you don’t trust anyone and you turn on one another, killing the other, before they kill you.
That then overrides humanity’s primal core values – protect one another, protect the young, because a child can do no harm, right? It’s become a fight or flight world, preserve yourself, protect yourself and no one else. What was harrowing about this, is imagining a world where humans have lost their humanity, causing their own pitiful destruction – sound familiar? This book questions and prompts readers to think, ‘isn’t this happening to us now?’, when did we become so selfish, corrupt and cruel? The world will not end due to something other, personally, I think, we will destroy ourselves, before the sun, or God destroys the Earth. And when reading this book, it begged the question – is this what will happen to us? Not being able to trust your friends, family?
It’s a scary thought.
But a very real one.