Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
The X-Men meets Ocean’s Eleven in this edge-of-your-seat sci-fi adventure about a band of “super” criminals.
When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She’s what’s known as an illusionist…She’s also a thief.
After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn’t?
The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against the government that could cost them their lives.
This was one of the many debuts that I put on my to-read shelf when I was trying to find enough debuts to complete the 12 book challenge. I hoped it would be good, but you’re always cautious when you read something new from an untested author. Luckily, Emily Lloyd-Jones might be a new author for me, but her first book makes it clear that I’ve found a new favorite author in the sometimes tricky science fiction/paranormal genre (well, tricky for me, an increasingly predominant contemporary reader).
From the very beginning, this book had me interested. I was initially thrown off by the use of third person present tense writing – I don’t mind third person too much, even though it can be distancing, but I’m not a fan of present tense at all for some reason. At first it was a little annoying because I kept reading it in past tense in my head, but after a while I stopped noticing the tense and just enjoyed reading this addictive story.
This book is a little over 400 pages long, which is a pretty sizeable book, especially with all the short books I’ve been reading lately (300 or less, generally). It never felt overly long, though – by the time I was finished, I already wanted more. It read really quickly, with plenty of action going on. The summary describes this book as a cross between X-Men and Ocean’s Eleven, and while I haven’t seen the latter, I figure it’s actually a very accurate description. Some other books come to mind as well, like Ally Carter’s Heist Society series. So, if you like any of these three things, there’s a good chance you’ll like this book as well. I read the summary before reading this, but I kind of forgot what it had said happened, so every new twist was surprising and interesting to me. There are cons, heists, and feds galore to keep Ciere and her friends occupied.
Thinking back, I feel like I didn’t get to know the characters quite as much as I would have liked, but I honestly didn’t mind at all while I was reading. Despite the distancing third person narration, I felt more of a connection with protagonist Ciere than I have with some first person narrators. She was interesting to read about, and in the most emotional moments, she felt more real than ever because her reactions seemed genuine – like reacting to a particularly violent scene in the second half of the book (it’s not too gruesome, but not a fun scene to read). There’s her honorary father/uncle/brother figure, Kit, who is both a typical crook and a perfectly groomed homebody, which was entertaining to read about; her best friend, Devon, who really reminded me of Hale from Heist Society with his rich-boy-who-wants-into-the-crook-life personality; Daniel, a member of their crew who is captured by feds; and Magnus, a telepath who seems to have a lot more secrets that I’d like to discover in future books. They were all interesting and entertaining and I just want to learn so much more about them.
The World Building
I thought this world was quite interesting and did sound quite plausible – which is either a testament to the book or a sign that I know very little about science and vaccinations. This book is roughly twenty years in the future, after a great plague ravaged the world and the only vaccination to stop it also gave a small portion of the world superpowers (which is how it’s similar to X-Men, only without the evolution bit). Of course, regular people aren’t too happy with this new threat, and people like Ciere are hunted and given two choices – imprisonment or working with the government. Of course, a life of crime is a third option that many others take, which makes for some interesting twists on things like the Mafia (who have apparently been taken out by people like these “immunes”). I want to learn more about this possible future for our world.
The Adult Situation
Since Ciere is an orphan, she doesn’t have a normal adult presence in her life. Kit is the main adult in her life and he certainly acts as her guardian, but much of the time Ciere and Devon are on their own. It shapes her character, though, so I don’t mind the lack of adult situation, except for the fact that it leaves me with unanswered questions about Kit (and Magnus, but I’m sure the backstory of these two adults will be addressed in future books).
One way this book shocked me was by the almost complete lack of romance. There’s a bit of setup that suggests that could be more of a romance in the next book, but it really wasn’t there in this book. I’m one of those people who actually prefers having romance in all the books I read, but I really don’t think this book needed it. If anything, it seemed like it might be setting up romantic drama for the second book that I really don’t want because it’ll detract from the interesting relationships and action going on with this first book, but I really don’t know for sure. So, if you come into this book hoping for a big romance, you’ll definitely be disappointed – but, if you’re like me, you won’t even miss it.
By the end of the book, I was turning the pages very quickly in order to finish it and know how it all ended. I already knew that there was a second book, so I was ready for some strings to be left dangling while many others were wrapped up, and I felt that that was pretty much the result. It left me feeling like this particular story was finished in a satisfied way while another story is set up for the second book. So, I was both satisfied and intrigued, which is exactly what the first book in a series needs to do.
All in all, this was a really, really good book for me. The narrative style threw me off at first and it seemed like some unneeded drama was starting to get set up for the second book, but otherwise this book was perfect for me. I look forward to whatever else Lloyd-Jones comes up with next, and this is one debut author who will certainly be part of my Sophomore Author Challenge next year!