The Infinite Noise: A Bright Sessions Novel (The Bright Sessions)
Lauren Shippen has already clearly proven to the podcast world she is incredibly talented when it comes to writing characters and dialog with the super-successful hit audiodrama The Bright Sessions, with over 15 million downloads and numerous fans across the world. I was completely hooked from the very first episode and I’ve loved every episode since, include the new spin-off show, the AM Archives. In The Infinite Noise, the first book in a trilogy, Shippen turns to novel writing, which has a different process and style to podcast writing, and she delivers wonderfully in a whole new way.
Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old kid going through the rigmaroles of high school. He’s also a champion running back for the school team, is handsome, and has a lot going for him. In many ways, he’s a seemingly normal, popular high schooler, except Caleb has a special ability. He’s known as an Atypical who has extreme empathy, meaning he feels and is able to sense the emotions of everyone around him, whether he wants to or not. He knows when someone’s feeling angry, or scared, or depressed. Sounds like a pretty cool ability, except for times like when Caleb’s taking a test and is completely distracted by the full range of emotions everyone is going through.
Fortunately, Caleb is getting help. He’s seeing a therapist, Dr. Bright, who specializes in helping patients with special abilities. Atypicals. Dr. Bright is helping him by providing relaxation exercises to help him maintain control of his ability. Caleb has also started talking to his therapist about a boy named Adam, who is having his own problems as any marginalized high schooler does, but what’s unique about him is whenever Caleb focuses his ability on Adam, he makes him empathize with emotions differently to other people, and when Adam is happy about something, Caleb experiences a sense of euphoria he’s never felt with anyone else before. As Caleb befriends Adam, it becomes apparent he’s having a whole range of feelings for him that go beyond his atypical ability.
If your a fan of the Bright Sessions, then you’re already familiar with Caleb’s wonderful character, and how his relationship progresses with Adam, with their many amusing and adorable interactions. In The Infinite Noise, what’s perhaps most enjoyable is that readers get to see inside both Caleb’s and Adam’s heads. On the podcast, we’re outsiders listening in on their conversations. In the book, we get their points of view: their thoughts and feelings, what they think the other person is also thinking and feeling. Caleb constantly has to wrestle with the conflict of whether the emotion he is feeling is genuinely his own or whether it’s Adam’s that he is simply experiencing. Shippen does a wonderful job of crossing over at times with other characters and events from the show, but ultimately keeping it about Caleb and Adam in this first book.
Shippen writes with an ease and an interest that feels completely and natural for the novel format, making it seem she has been writing books all her life, but at the same time she takes the joy and fascination listeners get from the Bright Sessions and keeps it going throughout The Infinite Noise, as well as addressing subjects like mental health, depression, and living in gay relationships not by discussing or preaching, but through her wonderful characters going through the thoughts and emotions and experiences that many people around the world live with daily.
If you’re a Bright Sessions fan, you will love this book.
If you’ve never listened to the Bright Sessions (and you really should!), The Infinite Noise serves as a great starting point.
The Infinite Noise is a wonderful book, and it makes audiodrama fans so happy to see a big publisher choosing to publish Lauren Shippen’s wonderful work, making it available to many more people around the world. I can’t wait for next one.
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