Lauren Shippen's The Infinite Noise is a stunning, original debut novel based on her wildly popular and award-winning podcast The Bright Sessions.
Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old champion running back. Other than that his life is pretty normal. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.”
Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb's ability is extreme empathy—he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb's life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam's feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb's feelings in a way that he can't quite understand.
Caleb's therapist, Dr. Bright, encourages Caleb to explore this connection by befriending Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist—who seems to know a lot more than she lets on—and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.
“What if the X-Men, instead of becoming superheroes, decided to spend some time in therapy?” (Vox on The Bright Sessions)
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
Two teenage boys find a special connection in this YA romance debut with connections to the author's sci-fi podcast. Caleb doesn't know why he feels so overwhelmed at school, but after he snaps and gets into a fight, a special therapist helps him recognize his superhuman ability to feel others' emotions. Keeping his secret and taming his own feelings aren't easy, but both feel manageable when he's around Adam, a classmate who, despite his own struggles with depression, helps to drown out the chaos and soothe Caleb's frazzled nerves. As the two grow closer, Caleb has to sort out whether the attraction he feels is his own first same-sex attraction or simply a reflection of Adam's feelings for him. The teens' mental-health struggles are portrayed with veracity and compassion, as is the development of their relationship. Though any teen open to gay romance might enjoy this novel, it will have particular resonance with those who have experienced depression or emotional overloads. Ages 13 up.
Weird in so many ways
This could have been a touching story, but there were so many inconsistencies in it that did not add up. The time setting is horrible (what high school plays football all year? And since when is Sadie Hawkins not in November) and the place setting was never fully described. The plot borders on fantasy and reality and tries to mix it all up together—frankly it did not work for me. The plot is also quite predictable. By the time I was halfway into it, I knew the ending. And the dialogue, I thought if I heard one more character ask another one “if he was ok” that I would throw up. Sad this important issue was so weird in this book.