About three weeks ago, my Keurig died halfway through brewing my morning cup of This Is My Only Reason For Living. Weeping, lamenting, and the rending of stevia packets in protest did nothing to assuage the pain pulsating from the hole left in my soul at the death of my beloved morning companion.


Last week, after enough neighbors complained and I received a visit from the National Forestry Service, I had the lawnmower repair guy over to fix my mower. When he got the machine up and running, he told me I had not given it enough love and attention.


Machines, Kuerigs and lawn mowers, apparently have feelings that we humans often overlook. That is part of the underlying story in The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman.


Nami Miyamoto has just graduated from high school and is carrying on a conversation with her O-Tech Ophelia getting sartorial suggestions and listening to jokes when she is interrupted by her sister Mei, “You realize you’re talking to a robot don’t you?” (2)


But that is not how Nami sees things: “And Ophelia isn’t a robot—she’s an artificially intelligent personal assistant. Don’t you watch the commercials?” (3)


Early on, readers get a true sense of the relationship between Nami and Ophelia: “Ophelia, have I ever told you how much I appreciate our friendship? You’re a good listener, for one, and even though you know what emotional blackmail means, you’ve never tried to use it on me.” (12)


Ophelia responds with “Thank you. I am quite fond of you, too.” Nami knows she doesn’t mean it because “She’s an AI, after all” and even though “most people don’t talk to their O-Techs the way I do…the times Ophelia has kept track of my homework assignments and given me pep talks when I’ve been feeling down, of course, I was going to end treating her more like a friend than a program.” (12–13)


And that’s the problem.


When Nami wakes up the next morning, she discovers she’s in a place called Infinity, which is where human consciousness goes when the human physical dies.


Not quite a spoiler, but Nami dies, which seems odd for the protagonist to die by the end of chapter two, but it sets up why it’s probably a good idea that I didn’t think of my Keurig and lawn mower as besties. 


In Infinity, Ophelia, the artificial intelligence Nami thought of as her friend, has established herself as a queen forcing the humans she once served to now serve her before eventually fulfilling her plan to wipe out the human race. 


In a red pill-blue bill homage to The Matrix, Nami is offered a white pill that “will allow you to finish your transition from death into the afterlife. Your pain will vanish. Your consciousness will find peace. And you can proceed to the paradise that awaits you outside these walls.” (24)


But Nami doesn’t take the pill and finds there is more to Infinity than the peaceful transition presented to her. She joins a team of rebel humans in the afterlife in an attempt to save humanity and maybe even discover her belief of what it means to be human.


The new Keurig has assumed the place on the counter vacated by its dead predecessor, and while the new machine dutifully and efficiently does its job of brewing my reason to live, I look at him warily, suspiciously.


Still, I’m nice to him—just in case. 


Have students write dialogue between them and an inanimate object by downloading the lesson below!


Michael Méndez Guevara is a former high school journalism and English teacher who spent his time in the classroom helping students see themselves as writers and fall in love with reading through the world of young adult literature. As an educational sales consultant with Perfection Learning®, Michael works with teachers and schools on improving their literacy instruction and providing resources to help students achieve academic success. He has taught elementary school, middle school, and high school and has worked as a district level leader and served on the Texas state standards revision committee that developed the state’s current literacy standards. He is the father of three adult sons, the youngest a student at the University of Kansas—Rock Chalk! Michael is working on a professional development book for literacy educators and currently has agents reading the manuscript of his young adult novel, The Closest Thing to a Normal Life. When he's not reading, writing, or running, Michael is fully committed to watching as much Law & Order as possible.