Book Review #20: Illusion by Joseph Phelps

The allure of Blacklight Industries’ most immersive experience, The Life of Crime, has made it the world’s premier crime game, bringing users back to the 21st century, where they can shape the world with absolute freedom. For good or bad.

Players build crews, control turf, and fight for power and status along the way. Each server is home to a unique metropolitan city, and the West Coast US server, Illusion, is under attack. For the first time in the game’s history, an entire server is threatened with total takeover by an unscrupulous and power-hungry crew known as GoonStorm.

When Kurt finds himself expelled from college and without any prospects of employment, he joins the game at the request of his best friend Jimmy, albeit three years after the initial release. Needless to say, he has a lot to learn. The pair quickly fall in with the game’s most famous driver, the mysterious Getaway Gal, and find themselves a part of a dangerous campaign to stop Illusion’s most powerful guild from taking over the server.

Outmanned and outgunned, Kurt and company are going to have to use every trick in the book to save Illusion from falling into the wrong hands.

(This blurb is taken from Amazon, as I stared at my computer for 4 hours trying to figure out how to sum this book up. LOL)

Illusion: The Blacklight Chronicles: Book One by [Joseph Phelps]
Isn’t this cover gorgeous? Taken from Amazon, of course.

I honestly don’t even know where to start! Haha. I’m at a loss for words.

For starters, I will say that Phelps has done a magnificent job of creating this immersive world around a single game. Down to the background things like AI behavior and game mechanics and the power-balance system, everything has been thought of. It’s a well-formed, creative world above all else.

Not only is the world well made, but the characters are also phenomenal. There’s not one MC that I didn’t genuinely like (or at least interested me!). Some of the GoonStorm players made me want to stick my tongue out at them, but that’s a pretty basic form of dislike. And that’s nothing towards their author! Oddly enough, it wasn’t the main MC that I found myself intrigued by. I was genuinely annoyed by how slow he was when it came to catching on and finding his niche within the game. I preferred Jimmy with his cut and dry sense of humor and his love of BIG weapons and Kitty, actually, with her devil-may-care attitude and love of FIRE.

Speaking of Kurt, actually, it took me a really long time to figure out if he was even worthy of being a main character. He just wasn’t as interesting as the other two, and I struggled to relate as much as I should. I only held off saying something because I wondered if my opinion would change, and it did. I understand his importance. It just took me a while.
The biggest issue I had (and I think it’s a stylistic, preference sort of thing) was the drawn out descriptions of the weaponry and vehicles within the game. I have this bad habit of kind of glazing over when reading over long detailed paragraphs so that I can hurry on to the plot parts. Sadly, I found myself doing this quite a lot in the beginning and middle of the book. I’ll tell you why I didn’t do it at the end later. I think its good to leave the reader a little bit more room to fill in the gaps themselves so that they can create their own images in their minds. I prefer this actually. It’s no fun if you do it all for me.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of the back-to-back action. But that’s the plot! I get that. So, I know this is a definite preference issue. So, I’m not going to rag on this one for long. I felt like I could never catch a breath before Kurt’s trio were right back to getting into trouble. Although!! My favorite two action scenes were when they played Fox and Hound (because I thought his tactics really brought out his strength as a player and his personality) and then when Kitty basically told the GoonStorms her plan and then BLEW UP THE ENTIRE CITY. I like her guts, lol. She’s a woman of her word, and I can stand by that.

Overall, I’m going to give it a 4 simply because it wasn’t my style. It was still a phenomenal book, though. I feel like I’ve just completed a major accomplishment, lol. If you’re an action fan and like sitting on the edge of your seat, don’t hesitate to pick this book up.

You can buy a copy of Illusion here! Or read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.

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