Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones (3 stars)
Kel Thursday, September 18, 2014 review
Confession: I've never seen Ocean's Eleven, but I like crime/spy thriller movies. Confession #2: I'm a bit of an X-Men geek; that is, I watched all of three or four cartoon adaptations and all the movies. So when the publisher pitched Illusive as "X-Men meets Ocean's Eleven," they hit a home run. I would definitely pick this book up. So I did. It didn't wow me the way I hoped, but it's entertaining.
Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Series: Illusive #1
Genres: YA, Sci-fi, Adventure
Published on July 15, 2014
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Final Rating: 3 stars
The X-Men meets Ocean's Eleven in this edge-of-your-seat sci-fi adventure about a band of "super" criminals.
When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She's what's known as an illusionist...She's also a thief.
After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn't?
The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against the government that could cost them their lives.
What I Liked:
- I like the world. I like how it incorporates super powers while still taking place in the real world. I also really like the criminal element. Super powers and crime go together here much like Holly Black's Curse Workers series, and it's a good fit.
- Ciere, despite her impulsive and less than well thought out decisions, is a good main character. She's likable enough, and there's plenty of room for growth.
- I'm curious about this previous work/team Kit and Magnus and Aristeus were involved in. It's kind of sounding like a super secret Navy Seal-like paramilitary mutant organization.
- I loved some of the super dry humor inserts (often used to end scenes). Example: "There is nothing funny about this.\ Devon drank the drugged coffee. \ Perhaps there is."
- I think Brandt Guntram and Conrad are going to be TONS of fun in future installments. They are the kind of fun, sarcastic, violent mobsters you love. I really hope we keep them around.
What I Didn't Like:
- I wish we'd spent more time with Daniel, the other main POV. I know, intellectually, there isn't a ton going on around him most of the time- just lots of watching and waiting with the feds, but I liked his voice/sarcasm and would have liked more of that humor.
- The bad guy is good at the beginning, but falls a bit flat for me by the end. I think the author is trying to make him more complex, show us that he's more than a "bad guy," but the shift from one extreme to the other was too jarring for me. It was like he went from the craziest, most fanatical Magneto straight to peace-loving, let-me-give-your-life-purpose Xavier.
- I was not a big fan of the "instant connection" between Ciere and the boy that pops up two thirds into the story (the Last-Minute Boy). It's too much, too fast, especially for two suspicious little teenagers, one of whom is a professional criminal. Minor spoiler: I liked the "connection" even less when it led to ditching the best friend, which was loser-ish and seemed contrived just to get him out of the way for future books.
- And I didn't like the Last-Minute Boy much. You're pulling out the potential for romance NOW? And with this guy? Who turns out to have WAY too much special-ness going on. And he's so quiet and shy and understanding and sympathetic and caring and tragic and bluh bluh...get rid of him, please. :)
- The ending feels too easy. It isn't, but it all comes together so fast and essentially has a deus ex machina. The stakes are high, the danger is pressing, but there are no serious consequences. :(
I love the idea! I mean, X-Men meets Ocean's Eleven! Mutants pulling off heists while hiding from the government and society in general! The characters aren't bad, the story is fun, and I'll likely pick up the next book, but I wanted more. I still recommend trying Illusive. It's not amazing, but you'll probably enjoy it, especially if you don't wish death upon the Last-Minute Boy the way I did. :)