Rare side effects from a vaccine meant to stop a pandemic create an elite group of people called the “immunes.” In Emily Lloyd-Jones’ sci-fi thriller, Illusive, a small group of “immune” criminals find themselves battling government agents and a powerful crime syndicate in a race to uncover a secret the vaccine’s creator left behind.
Main character Ciere Giba, a sixteen year-old illusionist, has spent half her life with Kit Copperfield, a Faganesque character who’s the closest thing she has to a parent. Living with the memory of her mother’s death at the hands of federal agents, Ciere is used to hiding her ability and masking her identity in fear of capture and recruitment as a government agent. Instead, she’s a thief for Kit’s network of questionable clients.
When Ciere and best friend Devon, another immune with the power of perfect recall, pull off a bank heist that unwittingly attracts the attention of a new crime
family, she makes a series of bad decisions that endanger the lives of everyone around her. Breaking and entering, theft and betrayal, and a high-speed chase by the FBI are just part of this accelerating plotline that piles on the intensity and yes, misdirection. Readers who stick with the slow set-up at the beginning will be rewarded with a fast-paced and suspenseful adventure once the big job starts to roll out.
Emily Lloyd-Jones’ debut novel has been called “The X-Men meets Ocean’s Eleven,” but this book reminded me more of Holly Black’s White Cat, due in part to the immune’s ability to blend in with society, at least superficially. The Mob connection is also a plot device both books share and one that readers can assume will be explored more fully in book #2. I liked the blurry depictions of good and evil, showing “good people” doing bad things and vice versa, which is more realistic and hopefully, will lead to richer character development as this series evolves.
No spoilers, but be on the lookout for a few surprises that I didn’t catch, but which seem obvious in hindsight. If you’re like me, you may be zipping through this book so quickly that you’ll miss them, too! No date set for book #2, but the next title will be called Deceptive. Find Ms. Lloyd-Jones’ website and blog here.