The comparison marketing did not lie: superpowers plus clever criminal shenanigans are what you’re going to get from Emily Lloyd-Jones’ debut.
I make no secret of my immense love of books about people with powers. I just love the idea of humanity evolving or getting irradiated or something and then having awesome powers. In Illusive, the powers are “adverse effects” from a cure to a plague that was potentially going to decimate the planet. The cure worked, but hadn’t gotten full testing because there was a bit of a rush on the saving humanity order. Turns out, a small percentage of people would develop a power after being given the cure. The powers, in this world, are: dauthos (super strength), eidos (perfect memory), levitas (ability to float), eludere (basically, elusive and good at escaping situations, as well as enhanced intuition), mentalist (reads minds), illusionist (that’s pretty much in the name), and dominus (I won’t tell you, since it’s a minor spoiler, but you might be able to guess from the name).
The world building in Illusive isn’t exhaustive, but it was solid enough to meet my needs. The powers seem a bit random to me, but that’s really not a big deal. The best thing, I think, is the way people make use of the powers. Levitas, for example, sounds like a pretty useless power, since it’s not ACTUAL flight, but Lloyd-Jones is clever and comes up with some great use cases. Similarly, I thought the dauthos, while having a very common superpower, had some neat elements that made it feel original. There is much power usage and you’ll definitely be happy if you are as into superpower stuff as I am.
Lloyd-Jones also really considers the social ramifications of these powers, which is awesome. These abilities have the ability to cause total chaos. The government and the criminal element both want the immune with powers for the strength they provide. For example, a lot of mentalists were claimed by the government to work for TSA. Those with these adverse effects are basically required to work for the government. Those that don’t want to end up criminals, like Ciere Giba and Daniel Burkhart, the two third person limited main characters of Illusive.
In case you’re side-eyeing the name Ciere, like I was, it’s an alias. Ciere’s a criminal. In fact, she takes pride in her work and feels no regret about her thefts. Illusive is the kind of book where you totally find yourself rooting for the criminal element over the so-called good guys. I like that Ciere’s crew (Kit, most especially) isn’t entirely criminals with hearts of gold. When Illusive opens, Ciere has robbed a bank for fun, just to give you an idea.
The characters are fantastic and varied. There’s not a whole lot of romance, but the banter’s so excellent, as is the plot, that I really didn’t mind the lack. Plus, Lloyd-Jones is setting the scene for some awesome ships later on. I’ve already got a couple that I’m really into View Spoiler ». I especially love the dynamics between Ciere, Kit and Devon. Ciere and Devon have a boy/girl friendship absolutely without sexual tension, which I love wholeheartedly. And the way that Kit picks on Devon amuses me no end.
The Final Verdict:
Illusive is fabulous, action-packed and hilarious. Even though I’m annoyed to find out it’s part of a series only when I reached the end and there were plot threads dangling (though this book has a resolution of its own), I am also excited to get more of these characters and this world.