12 April 2012

Review: Illuminate - Aimee Agresti


Release Date: March 6th, 2012
Hardcover: 514 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 

Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit. 
As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?             (Summary taken from Goodreads)

To describe Illuminate I could only use two words: freaking amazing! And to be completely sincere, I wasn't expecting for it to be this good. Angel-themed books have been so popular these last few months that I though Illuminate would be rather repetitive but it was just the opposite! Agresti's novel was a pleasant surprise. And I can't forget to mention that Illuminate has a beautiful cover which will love great on your bookshelf, just saying.

Haven, an ordinary yet very hard-working girl, is chosen to work at a hotel for six months. Her best friend, Dante, and another high school colleague, Lance, are invited too. This job seems like the perfect opportunity to get her life somewhere. But she doesn't know that in this hotel nothing is as it seems. A book left for her in the library tells her that her life is in great danger but will she believe it?

The plot was utterly amazing and surprisingly captivating. It was actually really surprising to find out more about the hotel's beautiful employees and the scaring boss, Aurelia. I had no idea when I started this novel that it would not only involve angels, but also selling souls to demons (if you watch Supernatural, you know what this means!). It was refreshing; for as I said many times before, angels are a popular theme nowadays in YA books. But what I loved most was the mystery in Illuminate. Agresti succeeds in keeping us at bay the whole time, leaving us guessing and never finding out much, though I guess this could be a bit annoying to many of you but I enjoyed it.

The characters in Illuminate were a bit hard to judge and relate to, since they were for the most part mysterious. For example you never knew if Lucian (the gorgeous employee, with whom Haven has a few dates) was nice or if he was just playing Haven for his and Aurelia's evil plans (mua-ha-ha! You will have to read it to find out more!). But Haven was a wonderful main character. She grows up a lot throughout the book, becoming a strong and independent girl. She is really down-to-earth and prefers to work hard now and slack later. Lance was sweet, quiet and likable but I would have loved to learn more about him. I wanted to read more about Dante too, even though he was a pretty predictable character.

Overall the story was amazing, the writing beautiful so that I can't wait to read the next one (my hands are already itching for more)! The beginning started a bit slow and sometimes I wondered about taking a break from reading it, but I refused to give up and it totally paid off! I'm so happy that I continued reading because after the action started to pick up pace I wasn't able to put this one down. Totally recommended!

Aimee Agresti was voted “Quietest” of her high school class–probably because she spent too much time with her nose buried in books. Clearly, becoming a writer was the only possible choice. She now happily toggles between the realms of fact and fiction. The author of the young adult novel ILLUMINATE, she’s also a former Us Weekly staff writer and entertainment journalist. She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and lives with her husband and son in Washington, DC, where she can often be found skulking around the Smithsonian museums on slow writing days waiting for inspiration to strike. For more on Aimee: Website / Twitter

1 comment:

  1. It's great to hear such high praise of this one! I don't think the description makes it sound very original but I'm glad the contents are. Lovely review!