Published by Greenwillow Books on May 19th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Parallel Worlds, Steam Punk, YA Romance, Young Adult
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.Amazon •
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.
Mature-Content Rating: Drugs, Violence
Oh, I’m so disappointed that I didn’t like this book! The characters turned out to be flat from the beginning and didn’t start to develop personalities until the last 10-20% of the book.
Jonathan is the main character that is a rare illusionist. What’s really nerve racking is he keeps switching from normal English to proper 1800s Queen’s English (which is the setting for the book).
Lockwood was an awesome character… in the second half. It’s almost as if he has two completely different personalities in the book because the Lockwood in the first half is not the same as the one in the second half, and there’s no transition for character development. He did turn into a fun character to follow. He’s a knight that’s very good at what he does, and has a quirky attitude. The biggest aggravation ever is over his missing eye. There’s a story there, right? A knight with an eyepatch? He even STARTS to tell the story TWICE in the book, but for some reason or another the author leaves the readers hanging and just cuts him off. We’ll never know Lockwood’s story.
Constantine is a misshapen beast of a man the characters come into contact with in a parallel world. He really has a one track mind- only wanting a girl named Anna- and doesn’t care about anything else. He plays a major part in the book, but he’s really one dimensional because of his I-want-Anna-I’ll-kill-you attitude. That’s really all you ever hear from him.
I have a hard time describing the two worlds because the original world we’re given isn’t properly described until we’re already in the next world, and then it’s Jonathan pointing out the differences. His world apparently had sleek, metal airships while the new world had wooden ones but we didn’t learn that until pointed it out halfway through the book. In my mind I had already pictured a Peter Pan-ish flying pirate ship (just for the heck of it).
What really gets to me is this entire book is about characters on drugs. Yes, you heard that right. DRUGS. Apparently getting high on fantillium makes certain people superheroes and you share hallucinations for fun. I wonder if fantillium gives you the munchies? Oh, and if you use it too much your body spontaneously starts to split or grow extra bits and pieces. Why? I have no idea.
I also noted several times in the book in which the author fell into the evil trap of telling-not-showing. “This happened, he did this, then we did that.” Those parts were boring and slowed down the story- mostly causing me to skim over parts.
One thing I did enjoy in Illusionarium is the hilarious footnotes. Ever so often Jonathan would have something snarky to add to his narration or to the end of someone’s sentence and it was added as a footnote. Those I did enjoy.
Overall, Illusionarium was not for me. The drugs, flat characters, and lack of world building and explanations just didn’t add up to a credible story.