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Young Adult Fiction 530
enthralling and atmospheric fantasy read
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STEALING INFINITY is a mysterious and intriguing YA fantasy. Natasha's life was forever altered when her father disappeared, and she has barely been holding her head above water with trying to help her mother pay the bills and live her life the way she wants. When her glamorous friend Elodie convinces her to skip school to go to an exclusive club, she agrees - but everything from there changes her life forever.

Convicted of a crime she did not knowingly commit, Natasha feels backed into a corner - a corner that takes the shape of a secretive private school, Gray Wolf Academy, where everyone and everything is a lie. She finds herself without many friends and with more enemies than she would care to have. Braxton, the boy who helped with her recruitment, is someone she feels like could be someone she trusts - but it's clear he is keeping secrets too. As she becomes more entrenched into Gray Wolf, Natasha will have to decide how she is willing to move forward and the terrible things she is willing to do and endure to keep her place there.

What I loved: This was such an atmospheric and intriguing read. The story moves quickly with a plot that keeps the reader guessing and anticipating what could be next. It is easy to become enchanted by the school and mysterious people there, many of whom are full of lies, understanding why Natasha feels and acts the way she does, while also understanding why it is problematic. There are some cult-like elements to the school with the forced separation from past lives, levels of achievement for which different privileges are given, and inner circle/hazing rituals that ensure the inability of the person to want to leave. This journey was particularly fascinating as Natasha evolves during her stay at the Academy.

There are several themes around family, grief/loss, friendship, romance, memory, time, secrets, and morality that added to the intrigue of the story and gave the reader some deeper topics to consider. Family is a particularly challenging one, as Natasha has locked away her father in her grief and has also come to terms with her origin and her relationship with her mother that was broken after the loss with her father and again when she left for the Academy. Memory is a particularly slippery concept in this book, as others frequently lie, hypnosis is used as a tool to alter perspectives, and Natasha experiences what she calls Unraveling in witnessing the memory of something more vague.

The temperamental nature and sensitivity of time adds a sci-fi element to the story, which begins with the riveting prologue. The morality of everything is a fine balance that is frequently re-evaluated over time, as Natasha begins to reconsider some thing that she previously saw as more black-and-white. This was a theme that seems as though it will continue to develop in later books - the good and bad guys seems to change throughout the story and the reader is left wondering where the cards will fall as we learn more.

Natasha is a compelling character, who is ultimately trying to find her own place in the world, while protecting herself and her heart from disappointment. Her effort is expended towards these goals and leads to the situations and predicaments in which she finds herself as well as the ways in which she moves through them. While not all of her actions will be likable, they all seemed understandable in her own context. She is still evolving and growing as a character, and her growth will likely continue along with her knowledge and experience in later books.

Final verdict: STEALING INFINITY is a highly compelling and riveting YA fantasy read that will leave readers reeling and eagerly awaiting the next installment. Highly recommend for fans of CRAVE, IT ENDS IN FIRE, and VAMPIRE ACADEMY.
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