Title: The Infinity Year of Avalon James
Author: Dana Middleton
Rating: ★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: Avalon James and Atticus Brightwell have a secret–one that they aren’t allowed to discuss with anyone. This secret is shared between two best friends. When you and your best friend turn ten years old magical things are said to happen. You both will receive some kind of magical power. It can be a power you can call on time and time again. Or it can be a power that comes once when you need it most. It’s your Infinity Year and the possibilities are endless.
The past year hasn’t been great with her family being torn apart and bullying at school, so Avalon is depending on her magical ability to appear soon and help. With the clock ticking and her eleventh birthday approaching, which would be the end of her powers, Avalon’s hopes are running high. Will she and Atticus get the powers they so desperately want and need?
Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!
The Infinity Year of Avalon James has an intriguing premise: it’s about two best friends who when they turn the age of ten are granted an “infinity year” — magical “things” are supposed to happen, especially since it’s a secret they share. I loved this idea of two best friends sharing a secret like this, though this novel didn’t entirely win me over like I thought it would.
First off, I LOVE the friendship between Avalon and Atticus and I think the way Middleton develops it is fantastic. You get a very rich sense of their friendship, what they share with each other, and they are great to grow alongside in the novel. I loved how they wanted to protect one another, and yet when Atticus’ secret is let out, Middleton does an amazing job of connecting the reader with both Avalon and Arricus’ feelings.
However, the premise for this novel feels a bit misleading. I had it in my head that something really magical was going to happen, because it’s something constantly discussed by the two best friends. This novel is through and through contemporary all the way, but the blurb makes it sound as though there’s more to that contemporary setting than there actual is. This is not a bad thing, but it was definitely a case for me of expecting one thing and definitely getting something else.
I also felt that the supporting case in this story were way too one-dimensional at times, and to be honest, I don’t entirely understand Elena’s real motivations for being such a poop disturber. The reason is given, and while it’s perfectly good in middle grade, it did leave me wanting a bit more. I do love some of the littler tidbits in the novel, such as the spelling bee, and M the cat (I loved M the cat, M is rad).
While I have a few criticisms of this novel, I do think it is pretty swell over all. I had a lot of fun reading about Avalon and Atticus’ adventures, and I think Atticus’ secret was wonderfully shared in a way that I think a lot of kids can relate to. I think the portrayal of bullying is spot on here and I love the way Avalon handles herself. There’s a lot to enjoy about The Infinity Year of Avalon James, and I think those looking for a good book about friendship will find something to love here in Dana Middleton’s debut.