Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
No. of Pages: 416
Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Origins: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: 15 July 2014
Bottom Line: Forgettable
“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.”
Thoughts: With Illusive, one wishes for a bit more explanation and back story. There are so many unexplained situations that would help improve a reader’s understanding of and engagement with Ciere. More importantly, there are multiple global conflicts mentioned in passing of which a greater understanding would go a long way towards defining the good guys and the bad guys. Instead, one faces a group of criminals being chased by another group of criminals and a shady government agency. Ms. Lloyd-Jones does explain the reasons for these chases, but the world remains too indistinct for readers to feel any sense of urgency or empathy with any of the characters.
In addition, the much-hyped superpowers that developed as a result of the vaccine remain just as hazy as everything else about this futuristic world. Readers know the names of those superpowers but what exactly they entail is unknown. There are some explanations and demonstrations of power, but one gets the impression that there are more to them than explained. Considering the entire story revolves around people with these superpowers and how they are hunted, the lack of details is a glaring omission.
Illusive tries its best to be an edgy, intense thriller in which good and bad have different connotations in the post-virus world. Ultimately, it does not succeed in this venture. The characters fail to engage a reader’s interest, and the story dashes along at too rapid a pace. The world-building is minimal, and the superhero-like powers that exist remain indistinct and undefined. The story, characters and their motives, and the future post-virus world are vague, making it very difficult for readers to fully visualize Ciere’s world and immerse themselves into her story. As a way to while away time on a flight, Illusive fills that need. As a form of intense, heart-pounding entertainment, it fails to make the grade.