Hi there! I’m so excited to share a review for a brand new dystopian YA adventure/romance from Susan Kaye Quinn. THE ILLUSORY PROPHET is the third book in her Singularity series, and should be read in order. Having loved THE LEGACY HUMAN and THE DUALITY BRIDGE, I couldn’t wait to read this one.
About the book:
What if you could paint with reality? Elijah Brighton can bring a girl back from the dead, travel outside his body, and absorb a lifetime of memories from anyone he touches in the fugue state. Everyone seems to think he’s the prophet they’re waiting for… including the girl he’s falling in love with. The truth is, the fugue is bleeding over into reality, bringing his sketches to life and haunting him with visions of a girl in metal armor. She stabs him with her blade and denounces him as any prophet worth the name—and it’s not like he disagrees.
People who change the world generally aren’t losing their minds.
He just wants to hide out in his tent and kiss Kamali, but a vision of his death and an attack on the Human Resistance Movement convince him something bigger is coming. Maybe Augustus—the power-mad ascender he barely defeated. Maybe the Makers, a tinkering cult with their own kind of ascendance. But when his best friend Cyrus disappears, questions of destiny and prophethood will have to wait—because the fugue is always showing a version of the truth, and Eli must discover that truth before his terrifying visions become reality.
This is the third book in the Singularity series, and needs to be read in order.
Elijah Brighton is not entirely human. Nor is he an Ascender–one of the millions of minds that are electronically connected since the Singularity several hundred years prior. Earth is not the place we know, it’s far advanced technologically, and humans that live here are kept as legacy populations in Ascender controlled cities, or they escape to join the Resistance, of the Makers or an even lesser-known cult.
Makers abhor all Ascender technology, and are governed by an enhanced human called Miriam. Their goal is to wipe Ascenders off the Earth. The main human Resistance faction is harboring Eli, hoping that he’ll assume his role of prophet, and draw more legacy humans to their cause. The Resistance is willing to share the world with Ascenders, as long as they are allowed to live a free life–not governed or limited by Ascender rule. See, legacy humans are never given more than they need to survive, and never receive any Ascender-enhanced or derived treatments for illness or injury; they are pets. A curiosity for Ascenders to amuse themselves with at this point.
Eli has been having scorched Earth dreams of Miriam for some time. He doesn’t want to be part of a battle, especially doesn’t want people dying on his account, but the war is coming whether he makes himself the prophet, or not. In the previous book, Eli destroyed a new and powerful Mind–one that was illegal to build. Augustus, the powerful Ascender who conceived of the Mind, had his consciousness disrupted as a result, but it’s only a matter of time before he is resurrected in a new bodyform, and will come looking for his revenge.
Eli’s need to stay on the sidelines isn’t cowardice. He knows that many–humans and Ascenders alike–will be killed in the ramp-up to what seems inevitable: the Second Singularity. In fact, it seems if Augustus has his way only his select few will make that leap, and the millions of Ascender in the collective will perish alongside all of humanity.
This book is all about Eli’s rise. He’s a teen boy with untapped power. He recently brought his girlfriend back form the dead, but was that a fluke? He doesn’t want to test this power–doesn’t want to tap that power–until it’s too late to not try. Too many are dying for him, for the human cause, and to not try means to give up and let humanity die.
There are so many difficult ethical and moral questions for young Eli. He has loved ones that he wants to save, but he doesn’t withhold his newly-developed abilities from foes, or enemies. Each move he makes could trigger reprisal, and death, but he builds a coalition that is committed to limiting bloodshed wherever possible. It’s not an easy balance to strike. It helps that he’s able to bridge reality and a realm he calls the fugue. When in the fugue Eli can commune with human souls, and Ascender consciousness. Part of his battle is to demonstrate that Ascenders have souls, a step that might unite some of the factions under Eli’s banner.
The book is rife with conflict, always with Eli at the center of the bull’s eye. He’s under attack in many ways, but he’s also fearless in making choices that will help humanity survive the waves of aggression to come. The pace is unrelenting. Between attacks, negotiating the peace, formulating plans, and forays into the fugue, Eli hardly has the chance to catch a breath, let alone a nap. It is his moment to “ascend” into power, not as a figurehead or a prophet, but as a man with a plan who is unwilling to relent. He’s committed to the preservation of life, and it seems that he’s finally figured out how to get to the souls of the Ascenders.
Ultimately, the book ends in a manner that’s miraculous and astounding and fantastic and makes me eager to get the next installment as soon as possible. Eli has stepped into his own in a way that’s going to blow the lid off the status quo in his world. It’s a good thing, too, because it seems he has a new foe to face who may be even more powerful than Augustus.
New to the series? The first book, THE LEGACY HUMAN, is currently on sale for $.99. Check out my review and catch the buy links, here
Susan Kaye Quinn is a rocket scientist turned speculative fiction author who now uses her PhD to invent cool stuff in books. She writes young adult science fiction, with side trips into adult future-noir, royal fantasy romance, and middle grade. Her bestselling novels and short stories have been optioned for Virtual Reality, translated into German, and featured in several anthologies. She writes full-time from Chicago, inventing mind powers and dreaming of the Singularity.
Chat with her about our coming robot overlords in her Facebook group.