Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones. ★★★1/2
Illusive is a YA novel that takes place in a near future where some people have gained superpowers as side effects of a vaccination. The Immune as they’re called have to chose between working for the government or prison. Or, if they’re like Ciere Giba, they can become a criminal instead.
Ciere is a seventeen year old illusionist. Her powers of illusion aren’t the strongest – she often isn’t able to extend the illusion past her own body – but they allow her to hide in plain sight, as long as there aren’t an cameras around. She’s a thief, working for Kit Copperfield, the man who takes her in after her mother dies. Then Kit gets given a job of a magnetite that their crew has never seen the likes of before.
I liked the majority of the world building. The different powers were used in interesting ways, and the government response to the creation of these powers gave the book a very dystopian feel. The only thing I wondered about was that we saw little to no impact of a extremely deadly disease sweeping across the world within the last twenty years. Maybe it’s because our protagonist is young and can’t remember it? I feel like such a significant percentage of deaths would have a lasting impact on society.
Illusive started off slow but picked up towards the middle. I was excited going into it since I really love heist plots. However, while Illusive does involve some heists, it’s not really a heist book. The main plot is more of a treasure hunt style story line.
The protagonist, Ciere, was pretty well developed even if she could be a bit frustrating at times (there’s always some reason why our teenage heroes refuse to tell the adults in their lives crucial information). The secondary characters were okay. Kit was probably my favorite of them, but Magnus shows a lot of promise. I think the three boys – Alan, Devon, and Daniel – all need more character development, especially Daniel since he’s got POV sections but still feels bland.
Speaking of characters, where were the women in this book? The protagonist is female and it still fails the Bechdal test! Ciere only ever interacts with two other women, Kit’s housekeeper and Magnus’s secretary. Neither are major characters, and she never has a conversation with either that lasts more than one line (and those one lines usually reference the men). This isn’t counting flashbacks to her memories of her dead (and unnamed) mother.
Illusive didn’t have any romance per say, but I got the definite feeling that a love triangle was being set up. She meets a hot new guy, her male best friend starts getting jealous… It’s a pattern I’ve seen many times before and still don’t care about.
While Illusive is not without its flaws, it’s still a very promising debut novel. I plan on reading the sequel.