Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Book One of the Illusive series
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 15, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC borrowed from a friend (thank you, Jess!)
Summary (from Goodreads):
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:
What a novel! I had been excited to read this one for a very long time, so I was really happy and slightly nervous to start reading it. Big thanks to Jessica @ Step Into Fiction for offering to lend me her prized ARC! Otherwise I'd never have had an opportunity to read this book, pre-publication.
Ciere is a thief, working with Kit Copperfield, an art fence who gives her jobs and takes care of her. When Ciere and her friend Devon rob a bank in mobster territory, Ciere finds herself in huge trouble. Pay Brandt back the forty grand, or else. But there are other problems - Kit wants Ciere to finish a job that Daniel, a boy that Ciere and Kit have worked with for years, hasn't completed. Daniel was taken by Aristeus and Co, an organization that apparently works to help the immune. Meanwhile, the FBI, UAI, and Ciere/Kit/Devon/Marcus are all searching for an old lady's will, that might contain the formula for the vaccination that caused the immune to exist - those with the "superpowers".
I know. This book is complicated. I loved the complexity of everything. There is the mobster plot - in which Ciere has to figure out how to pay back Brandt. There is the overall plot, in which everyone is searching for the will - and in essence, the formula (which was thought to be destroyed). There is Ciere's plot, in which Ciere learns to grow into her illusionist powers (something she's struggled with since her mother died, years ago). There is Daniel's plot, in which Daniel is taken by Aristeus, and used to find out what Kit and company are doing and looking for. There is a touch of romance, not much at all. In fact, the romance is kind of nonexistent. I might be building the romance a little.
What a fascinating world this author has created. A vaccine that was created to prevent MK from spreading had serious side effects ("adverse effects"), causing those injected to develop an immunity, or a supernatural power. There are mentalists, with the ability to see into people's minds. There are illusionists, like Ciere, who are able to allow people to see what she wants them to see, by creating illusions. There are others, like a dominus, eidos, dathos (I think dathos is one of them? The ones that can fight really well because they can bend their muscles and reshape themselves like craziness). It's SO COOL, all of the different powers, and how the immune affect the world. The government wants the formula to create more immune, to create a human army with superpowers. UAI (Aristeus's organization) and the FBI also want to round up the currently living immune, like Devon and Ciere.
So I liked the story, the plot, the world building. This book is really solid, especially in those areas. The characters are solid as well. I liked Ciere - her strength, her indecision, her impulsiveness, all of her traits made her a likable character. I didn't just see her as a thief, I saw her as a teenager with a difficult life, with no way out. Devon, ehhh, I liked him. He was hilarious, always making me life. I don't think he belongs in the crime world, but I really liked in his presence in this book.
I loved Kit and Marcus - they're like the "parents" of the story, except neither of them act like parents. Yes, they look after the teenagers, but for jobs, not necessarily for anything else. Although, that's not fair, Kit takes care of Ciere. Kit and Marcus were friends and colleagues before, and Aristeus was a protegee. Oops? Aristeus is kind of a bad guy (though not really), if you haven't picked up on that yet. Alan is an excellent addition to the cast of characters. I REALLY liked him, and hope to see more of him in future books.
The romance is so so so subtle in this book, if it exists at all. Throughout the book, I thought Devon and Ciere were a thing. Ciere definitely treats Devon in a platonic way, as a friend. But I'm pretty sure Devon has feelings for Ciere. Which is whatever. But I like Ciere and someone else. I'm hoping that the next book has a smidgen more of actual romance, because romance and kickbutt thriller action is an okay combination by me!
Yes, this book is totally kickbutt. There is so much action and thieving and scheming and plotting, I love it. I haven't read a crime-based book in a while - maybe since Natalie Whipple's Transparent? Except this book is more crime-based, more action-riddled, more kickbutt. I never wanted it to end!
There is a science fiction aspect to this book - the whole thing about the vaccination and the inhuman abilities. It's scientifically explained as side effects from the vaccination hastily created to combat the MK virus. Makes sense! I didn't think too much of it. You'll notice that I've tagged this book as "Post-Apocalypse" as well - the MK virus, and the vaccinations, can be considered as an apocalypse, right? And this book takes place after those two tragic phenomena.
The writing style is really interesting. This book is written in third-person, present tense. I'm not used to books written in present tense, so I was a little caught off-guard at first, but I found that I really liked the use of present tense! I love third person narrations, so I had no problem with that. Third person, present tense combinations are rare in Young Adult literature (I think? I personally haven't read too many books with both), so it was awesome to read a book with such unique writing (and a really original story)!
All in all, I can't wait to read the next book in this series. I didn't think there would be a sequel, because Goodreads doesn't have a sequel listed, but I chatted with the author, and she said that there will be a sequel next year! YAY FOR THAT!
What I Did Not Like:
I can't think of anything for this section. I know, I know, I'm giving the book four stars, but I can't think of anything that I didn't like. This is another "feel" novel, in which I'm giving this one four stars because that's how I feel about the book!
Would I Recommend It:
YES! You don't need to be a science fiction fan to enjoy this book. This book feels like primarily a thriller, so I feel like any type of audience will love this book. And there is basically no romance, which I think some people will really like! I think this book is an excellent package.
4 stars. This book was EPIC! I don't think I've read such an action-packed novel in a while. The writing and the story was refreshing and thrilling. Basically, you need to go read this one as soon as (legally) possible. I'm glad there will be a sequel - I will be all over that!
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