by Heather Dixon
Published: May 19, 2015
Genres: Steampunk, Young Adult
Format: eBook (361 pages)
What if the world holds more dangers—and more wonders—than we have ever known? And what if there is more than one world? From Heather Dixon, author of the acclaimed Entwined, comes a brilliantly conceived adventure that sweeps us from the inner workings of our souls to the far reaches of our imaginations.
Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he's a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path. Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that calls to mind The Night Circus and Pixar movies, but is wholly its own.
I felt disconnected from Illusionarium the whole time I was reading it because the action starts so quickly that I didn’t have a chance to get to know the characters and care about them. The story starts right off with a deadly disease. It actually didn’t add that much conflict because I hardly knew the characters so I didn’t care yet that they were all dying. I did think it was interesting that the disease only killed women. Still, for a disease destined to kill all women within the week I should have cared more.
One delightful thing about the writing that I really enjoyed were the footnotes. I like the idea of having footnotes in a fictional novel. It was funny since it fit the main character’s personality who was a scientist. Most of the footnotes were poking fun at himself. I kind of felt like they were the 1800’s version of hashtags.
The setting is a strange, steampunk world in a parallel universe of London that is similar to ours but not exactly the same. The names are familiar but slightly changed. The Tower of London is still there but England is called Arthurise. I enjoyed the steampunk feel which was a fun mix of fantasy and science. An illusion is like a drug hallucination that an Illusionist can control for other people. The best people at creating fantasical illusions were the smartest scientists. I thought that was creative. The main character jokes that certain things in math, like the square root of -1, is not applicable in real life, but he uses it in an illusion which I found funny. It was one of those moments where you are convinced that something you learn will never be of use and then you have to eat your words when it turns out it is useful.
What makes you feel disconnected to a book? The characters? The plot?
I think the biggest thing that makes me feel disconnected to a book is not understanding the characters and their motives. I don’t have to agree with the character’s motives (in fact, it’s more interesting to read if I don’t) but I need a reason for why they are doing things or I get bored very, very quickly. What about you?
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