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?

Review of Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols

NowThatYoureHereNow That You’re Here
By: Amy K. Nichols
Release Date: December 9th 2014
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Gifted by a friend

My Rating:

In a parallel universe, the classic bad boy falls for the class science geek.

One minute Danny was running from the cops, and the next, he jolted awake in an unfamiliar body – his own, but different. Somehow, he’s crossed into a parallel universe. Now his friends are his enemies, his parents are long dead, and studious Eevee is not the mysterious femme fatale he once kissed back home. Then again, this Eevee – a girl who’d rather land an internship at NASA than a date to the prom–may be his only hope of getting home.

Eevee tells herself she’s only helping him in the name of quantum physics, but there’s something undeniably fascinating about this boy from another dimension… a boy who makes her question who she is, and who she might be in another place and time.

My Thoughts:
I first heard of Now That You’re Here recommended in a tweet from an author I adore. I immediately added this to my wish-list and sought how to get my hands on an arc. I loved the cover and summary and overall I found it to be an entertaining read though it lacked that extra little something that makes a book amazing.

I seem to have this problem with alternate universe books-I always want to love them but for some reason I can’t think of a single one that worked 100% for me. I honestly think it might be me as the problem rather than the books.

To this book specifically I found it to be a fast read though I didn’t really get behind the romance or the characters as well as I would have liked. Eevee, our main character, was likeable but I didn’t connect deeply with her. I did enjoy her parent’s strange living arrangement and thought that this added a very unique element to her character’s background. I also loved that Eevee was obsessed with fractals:


I had a blast searching fractals and spending far too long staring at beautiful images. Back to Eevee-I loved that she had a hobby that she kept to herself and it was just another way for Nichols to add a layer of depth to her character. She did tend to fall into a typical ‘nerd’ stereotype as did her best friend, Warren.

I did appreciate that Nichols provided a relationship between the main character and her best friend. It is far too often I’ve read a book where the best friend seems like no friend at all. I was happy to see that though Warren and Eevee had their differences there was an underlining affection and understanding between the two of them.

This book does flip between two point of views, Eevee and Danny, the boy from the alternate universe. I think if Danny’s point of view wasn’t provided the story would have been far too confusing so I was happy to get insight into his thoughts. Danny was my favorite character in Now That You’re Here and I tended to enjoy his chapters the most. I liked watching him learn and cope with being flung into a world so similar to his own but different in some of the most important ways.

The romance was sweet though it didn’t have me swooning and it did take over the majority of the plot. We watch from both point of views as the two begin to fall for each other. If you like your science fiction with a hearty helping of cute romance then you’ll probably really enjoy this book.

I was most intrigued with the dimension Danny was from. Since it had a big brother vibe I wanted to read much more about why his world was the way it was. I imagine this will be explored in later books.

Final Thoughts:
Now That You’re Here was a cute alternate universe book that was nicely paced with likeable characters. Though it had these things going for it I still lacked a deep connection to the characters or their outcome and the book felt like it was missing that certain something that pushes a book into being wonderful. Sadly, I’ve been having a pretty bleh streak with alternate universe books this last year so it could have been a case of it’s me and not the book.