You may remember that I keep occasionally babbling incoherently about how much I liked that book Illusionarium. If I liked it that much, I should actually review it and tell people about it, right?
Or at least explain to my poor blog readers what on earth (or possibly off of it… in an alternate world, perhaps?) I was talking about.
Well, I’ve vaguely been meaning to review it, but was kind of overwhelmed by the idea. That happens to perfectionist me sometimes… But then! I realized that I had done a rather long and in-depth excitedly-flailing ramble to a good friend about it in an email soon after I had read it…
That was sort of a review, wasn’t it? So I decided I’d tweak that some and post it as a review. (I also don’t usually reference lots of other books/characters/authors/films/shows in reviews, but there’s a lot of that in this; I’m bolding the references.)
Here is my almost-review incoherent-ish fangirling babble for Illusionarium by Heather Dixon.
My goodness! I had so much fun with this book. 😀
It’s like The Night Circus meets Inception meets Mirriam Neal‘s book Disconnect meets Doctor Who meets Steampunk meets the kind of lively writing and boisterous characters who sound 1000% British of Entwined, (which is about the only similar thing, although it’s by the same author) and it’s also told in first-person from the POV of a guy, and since the last thing I read like that was that Curseworkers Trilogy (White Cat and co.) by Holly Black, it made me think of that, and also a little of Hiccup from the How to Train Your Dragon movie. A little. Just because. So… yeah, wow. Lots of reminders, and yet it was like nothing I’d ever read or seen! Oh, and there’s also kind of crazy outfits in a lot of it, kind of really colorful raggedy steampunkish clothing, I guess, and there’s a ton of masquerade-type mask things for awhile too, so that’s probably where most of the Doctor Who reminding came from — besides a wee bit of timey-wimey ness and the creepy-factor — but it kind of reminded me of The Girl in the Fireplace episode–was that what it was called?
It was also my first steampunk book! *gasp* I’d always wanted to try some steampunk and never got around to it before this. I think the steampunk element in Illusionarium wasn’t an extreme focus of it, kind of more like background… Most of the story was focused on the illusion stuff, which was some weird mix of stuff like the magic in The Night Circus, and science, and hallucination stuff like… like in Batman Begins (ooh, another thing I’m comparing it too. XD) and the Inception stuff about sharing dreams, or in this case illusions, and sort of being able to build stuff with your mind. *shrug* Anyways! Not SUPER steampunky, mostly it was just a whole lot of WEIRD mixed together. 😄 But I did loooove the steamunk feel and want to read more! I think this was a more fantasy-feeling steampunk and I know there’s more mechanical, realistic type ones, so I don’t know if this is even a really good sample of steampunk. But still. I feel quite excited to have finally officially read my first steampunk and now I really want to get to other steampunk books I have lying around and try them out! (I’ve since only read Broken Glass and Corroded Thorns by Emma Clifton, which I ADORED obviously, and were also extra fantasy versions of steampunk… But that only makes me want to read more steampunk, even more!)
Anyways, like I said, it’s kind of got things that remind me of stuff all over the place, but at the same time, really I’ve just never read anything like it! So much unique! At least for me. It was crazy but awesome. 😄
Pretty much my ONLY complaint was some of the creepy aspects of it… I just don’t get along well with really creepy kinds of things. At first I was creeped out because of this plague thing that turns people’s blood black so their veins make it look like black spider webs climbing up their skin and it just creeped me out… till I got used to it and ran into the rest of the creepiness in the book, which had to do with people kind of splitting and growing extra eyes and fingers etc. Maybe most people wouldn’t mind but IT KIND OF CREEPED ME OUT OKAY. O_O Meep. But aside from those two things, I positively ADORED it! 😀 But if you don’t have much of a problem with slightly creepy stuff maybe you wouldn’t mind, I don’t know. *shrug*
I’ve seen a lot of reviewers complaining about it not wowing them… EXCUSE ME? *splutters* It was breathtaking and edge-of-your-seat! It was… amazing! (Or maybe I don’t read exciting books. *shrug*) But you might have to go in not expecting much, and then just see if it catches you or not. It certainly wowed ME. I had no CLUE what it would be like, going in, so it just sort of wowed me extra because it was so DIFFERENT and I just loved the characters. 😀
The dialog. THE DIALOG. I loved it so much and it was one of my favorite things. Especially Lockwood’s. 😄 But… I’m getting ahead of myself here. I think I love books with super good dialog that I love to quote, lots of great humor, and characters who are sorta sarcastic and snarky…
And I haven’t even gotten to my favorite part!
Okay, so I LOVED the hero, and thought for awhile that he would be my favorite
character (sometimes it can get worrying with first-person narrators because sometimes it’s just hard to really really like them… unless that’s just me) but he was just so funny and dry but also felt sort of like a “normal” hero, and I just loved watching his struggles as he went up and down trying to find the right thing to do… I loved that and it was great. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed the main character’s “journey” this much in a long while… He also had these really hilarious, dry, witty asides he would put in occasional footnotes. It was so unique and hilarious! BUT. He wasn’t even my favorite!
My absolute favorite thing about the entire book had to be this one character, Lieutenant Lockwood, who’s this awesome sixteen-year-old Royal Airguardsman with an eyepatch who has the most outrageous personality and is so amazing and fun and hilarious and epic that I simply don’t have a place for him in my Character Categories! O_O
It’s usually characters like Howl and Chrestomanci [both by Diana Wynne Jones] and Florian [Westmark Trilogy by Lloyd Alexander] and Azrael [Mirriam Neal again] that I can’t pigeonhole, but Lockwood… I can’t with him either! :O It’s so weird… I think the closest I could get would be somewhere in with Peter Pan from Peter Pan in Scarlet, mixed with a pirate guy named Tamo in The Pirate’s Son by the author who wrote Peter Pan in Scarlet (Geraldine McCaughrean; she must be good at that kind of character…) but not quite. I don’t know! It’s quite odd! O_O I mean, Lockwood has the same young-awesome-kind-of-savage-but-also-carefree-and-epic-with-a-pistol sort of feeling as McCaughrean‘s version of Peter Pan, and Tamo, but so much MORE too. LOOKWOOD’S JUST UNIQUE AND I LOVE HIM.
It’s very rare and odd these days for me to find a character that just DOESN’T fit in my character pigeonholes! (Which I need to do a post about sometime…) And it usually means they’re awesome. 😄
I just loooove Lockwood and have been going around squealing about him ever since I was like halfway through the book. A few weeks after I read it, I flipped back through the book and reread basically every bit that had Lockwood in it. Yes. I love him that much. And I want to go do it again now! *flail*
Lockwood Lockwood Lockwood.
I just love him too much. I know I’m just fangirling and not making any sense probably, and repeating myself, but I don’t care.
I JUST CAN’T EXPLAIN LOCKWOOD OKAY. HE’S TOO AMAZING TO EXPLAIN IN MY OWN WORDS. YOU JUST HAVE TO READ HIM FOR YOURSELF.
Basically, Illusionarium had a couple elements that were too creepy for me, but overall it was totally unique and my first steampunk and I really enjoyed it and it has one of my new favorite characters.
And it made me happy. It was kind of terrifying and thrillerish and made my heart beat too fast probably but it just… MADE ME HAPPY. I want to beam and huggle it forever. Just… if that’s not what you want books to do for you, I don’t know what is.
An equation for you. (Ha! Inside joke… Equations are a big part of the book; like… sciencey stuff and all.)
Illusionarium + Lockwood – creepiness = best. thing. ever.
If it weren’t for the creepy aspects, it might be like my favorite book this year (okay so it’s up against some pretty stiff competition… so I dunno. BUT STILL). It was just AWESOME.
(Plus, cover love. We can be shallow and love it for the cover, right? ❤ )
Anyways! There is my ramble/babble about Illusionarium, because it’s definitely not coherent enough to quite call it a review. 😉
But if you think THAT was incoherent fangirling… Here’s the “review” I originally posted on Goodreads as soon as I’d finished reading it: