From Book Sexy Review: Ilustrado is as much about Miguel as it is about Crispin. The similarities between the two men only highlight their differences. There is a certain nostalgia for Crispin’s generation and the Philippines’ revolutionary past. There is an obvious disgust with the present. The novel attempts to relay some of that history, as well as the current events, but if you’re not already familiar it’s almost impossible to follow the timeline. In fact, I believe there is a deliberate blurring of time, happenings and even characters. The obscuration makes sense when the author reveals a plot twist – very Ian McEwan – in the final pages. It would have been shocking had I not been too mentally exhausted to appreciate the house of cards Syjuco constructed for his readers.
Ilustrado contains some excellent writing. Miguel Syjuco (the author) handles each of the individual components well and obviously has put a great deal of planning into his novel’s construction. Parts are entertaining, in the way that novelties are entertaining. He even succeeds in establishing a sense of the national culture: particularly that of the capital city, Manila.