DNF Review of Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

By: Heather Dixon
Release Date: May 19th 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow
Format: E-ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I made it to 57%

From the author of Entwined, a brilliantly conceived adventure through an alternate London. This sweeping, cinematic tale of an apprentice scientist desperate to save his family—and his world—is The Night Circus meets Pixar.

Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that is breathtaking and wholly original.

My Thoughts:
Did you read that intriguing (and vague) summary? Sounds like perfection-so I knew I’d need to read this book as soon as possible. I’ve read Dixon’s Entwined and enjoyed it so I was even more excited. Pus, look at that cover. Really, what isn’t appealing about this?

Sadly, I think my expectations might have been too high. I enjoyed the beginning of this book but it felt on the younger side of YA and I’d hoped for a more mature storyline. The characters were okay but none of them really gripped me.

Illusionarium does deal with an alternate universe and the way Dixon introduces it through inhaling a drug and pretty much hallucinating the door between worlds was incredibly unique if not a tad hard to visualize. You’d think with drug use and hallucinating this book would feel on the older side of the young adult spectrum but it didn’t for me. The dialog and level of detail seemed nearly middle grade. I believe a good amount of people will become absorbed in the creative world building and enjoy the lighter feel of the story but it fell just a tad short for my taste.

I think my detachment stems from my inability to really connect to the main character, Jonathan. He was likeable, intelligent though on the goofy side. His voice seemed unique to him and I cant really find any real flaw with his character but my connection to him was absent. I wanted to feel more emotionally attached to him and his quest but I couldn’t. I wasn’t overly concerned about how he faired.

The side characters were less developed and felt a tad like caricatures. We spend very little time in Jonathan’s real world so his family members and love interest are quickly forgotten as the new cast of characters from the alternate universe are introduced. I’d also thought the book would be a tad romantic because of that swoony cover but it really wasn’t. There was hardly any romance and I wonder if that if it had been included if I’d have liked the story better. The book does focus on a sibling relationship that was sweet but I wanted a few swoon-moments. Again, I brought my own expectations into the story.

I ended up putting this book aside for more other books with more pressing release dates and after hanging out on my currently reading shelf since December of last year I figured it was time to give up and put this away. I might venture back because I really did enjoy this author’s other book and there wasn’t anything bad per se but it just couldn’t grip me.

I want to know- have you read Illusionarium? If so, would you recommend I go back and finish it?


  1. says

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOO I have this one but lol yeah, maybe not for me. I think I’m at this stage where I no longer want to read the younger spectrum of “young adult”, if you get me? And that writing and dialogue does not sound appealing, at all. Shame though, what with that premise and all, but I guess you can’t have them all (especially when there’s literally so many fish in the sea). Thanks for the heads up, Kristen! x

    • says

      If you read it Jess I’ll be curious to hear what you think. I really thought I’d love it and it was one of my more anticipated titles. So bummed it wasn’t for me.

  2. says

    Ugh, I’m so sorry you had to DNF this book 🙁 I haven’t wanted to read it at all since that time you started it, lol. And I just.. I feel like I won’t like this book either, and that is SO SAD 🙁 And ugh. No romance, really? So sad. I’m sorry that this book was pretty awful sweetie 🙁 But anyway. Your review is gorgeous. <3 Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it sweetie 🙂

    • says

      I had such high hopes but it really wasn’t working for me. I loved the author’s first book so I’m really surprised. I might have to pick it up at a later time.

  3. says

    If a book is compared to The Night Circus, you can bet I’m gonna have high, high expectations! Sorry this one didn’t work for you – I’m also not a fan of books that err on the younger side of YA.

  4. says

    I started this back in December, put it down for a month or two, and recently finished it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really pick up until past the middle–probably just a little ways from where you stopped–at which point it does improve in tension, pacing, etc., and it has some romance thrown in. But yes, the first half is pretty much the boring Jonathan show. 😛

    • says

      Looks like we did the same thing with this book…except I didn’t pick it back up really. I tried a few times but wasn’t feeling it. Good to know that the last bit of the book improved.

  5. says

    Oh noooo! I was looking forward to this one and so far I’ve only heard mixed reviews. Gah, too bad the dialogue isn’t great and it’s hard to connect with the characters. I was planning on picking this one up next week — I’ll make sure to go into it with lowered expectations

  6. says

    You’re not alone at all in your feelings! I’ve heard mostly nixed/negative things about this one, unfortunately. The synopsis sounded so amazing, but it seems readers aren’t connecting to the characters and the story is confusing. :/ I also need more romance in my reads.
    Sorry this didn’t work for you, but thanks for your honest review! I don’t think I’ll be picking this one up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *