Author: Heather Dixon
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins)
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Far, far north, in the cold aerial city of Fata Morgana, apprentice scientist Jonathan is preparing to leave for university.
He doesn't know about fantillium, the newly discovered chemical that allows people to share hallucinations—sometimes wondrous ones, sometimes appalling.
He doesn't know he holds the rare skill to control the hallucinations—to become an illusionist.
He doesn't know that fantillium can also open gateways to parallel worlds. Or that he will soon begin an epic journey, crossing cities and worlds, to save his family, his friends, and his very reality.
He doesn't know any of that... yet.
And when he does, will his compass continue to point true north? Or will it break apart?
Illusionarium is a tricky book for me to review. While it is fast-paced and stands apart from the typical YA novel (hello there, non-badass male protagonist!), I had a hard time getting into the book. Why, you ask? Was it quirky? Yes. Was the science steampunkery making sense? To me, sure! Did you connect with Jonathan or detest the evil Queen Honoria? Well, not really.
I guess I've been ruined for the whole steampunk genre because what steampunk means to me is The Golden Compass, which is not a fair standard to set against any novel. Illusionarium is not deep, and when I was reading it, I didn't want to put it down. However, when I put it down, I had a hard time picking it back up.
I never got invested. I didn't care that there was a clock ticking to find the cure for Jonathan's mother and Hannah. Sure, it sucked that they were sick, but I didn't have time to get invested in their fates before being thrown into chaos with Jonathan. I didn't really understand the point of what was going on in Nod'ol. And when Anna came into the picture... Well, that was only weird.
Everything happened so quickly in Illusionarium that I think I was left in the dust. I didn't get the world-building that I wanted, I didn't get to know the characters well, and that just doesn't work for me. I finally gave up because I felt like the D student in Honor's Physics with no tutor in sight. (Lost.) I think Illusionarium would probably work better for a reader that likes to be engaged by what they read without playing brain olympics or have different expectations than me. Maybe I'm just in the minority and haven't found another steampunk novel that suits me.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Fishpond | Indiebound
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.