This book was such a wonderful surprise! The plot was great, but what really shines in this story are the characters and the chemistry between them. Jessamin is lovably geeky, and the constant references to mathematics made me smile every single time. She is the strong, opinionated, intelligent, fiercely independent female lead that is so often missing from young adult fiction. I love, love, loved the relationship she builds with "Sir Bird". Though Bird is silent, his actions and interactions give him a sarcastic, loyal personality that I adored. But Jessamin is not the only female powerhouse in this book. Her friend Eleanor, while more sly about it, uses her whit and cunning to make her place in the world and rise above the blatant sexism that is present in the world she lives in.
Finn is another rather well done character, although I did not love him as much as the girls. His hidden, troubled past and boyish charm make it almost impossible not to like him. I particularly enjoyed the chemistry between Finn and Jessamin. Their witty banter felt genuine and was immediately endearing.
While the characters were amazingly well done, I found myself constantly wanting more world building. I wanted to know more about the magic, more about the island Jessamin is from, more about the interactions between the countries, more about the government, more more more. Since this appears to be a stand alone, I guess I will have to deal with what I got, however.
The story had me constantly on my toes, wondering what would happen next. Many of the twists and turns were completely unexpected, and I really enjoyed the fact that the plot got rather dark at times. That is something I haven't seen White do before, and her first foray into this realm was wonderfully frightening.
This was not like any of the other books I have read by White. The plot and characters felt significantly more complex, giving the overall story a much more grown up feel than her previous work. It is always great to see authors grow as they release new books, and if Illusions of Fate is any indication of what we can expect from White's future releases, she is definitely an author to watch.