Illuminate: Book Review

Novel: Illuminate by Aimee Agresti (Gilded Wings #1) | Goodreads
Release Date: March 6th, 2012
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
Format: ARC
Source: BookPeople Teen Reviewing
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge
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?

Illuminate is an exciting saga of a teen’s first taste of independence, her experience in the lap of luxury, and her discovery she may possess strength greater than she ever knew.

(Synopsis and Image from Goodreads)

Willa’s Rambles:

Illuminate is one of the longer books I’ve read lately, and honestly, I read it as fast I would a shorter one, because it’s so fast paced! New secrets are constantly being uncovered, and the characters are tested. That is probably one of my favorite things about it!

Haven is one of those characters you immediately like. She’s funny, sweet, smart, and has amazing friends (DANTE!) like make her shine. Plus, she has this drive that floored me! If I was put in her position, I would be exhausted by the end of the day! With every challenge she is faced with she reacts like anyone else – with suspicion or excitement, and most of the time, because of the unusual challenges, suspicion and fear.

Dante was the “classic gay best friend” character. I love how more and more authors are taking a risk with this character type, but there are some stereotypes that Dante does follow. He’s fantastic with clothes and super sweet, but what sets him apart is A) his dreadlocks and B) his love for baking! I think the baking made me love him even more than him calling Haven “honey”. They were the most amazing best friend characters I’ve read about in a while!

Lucian vs. Lance, that is the question. I didn’t like Lucian. Never. Not for one single second. He creeped me out! Especially farther into the novel when he started calling Haven “Haaaven”. I always wanted to like punch him in the face. I never really understood what Haven saw in him other than the “bad boy” look, but other than that, he didn’t really have much going for him.

Lance on the other hand… Well. Iloved Lance from the first time I met him! He was definitely my favorite character because I never knew what to expect from him! He was always surprising me with his understanding talks with Haven and his surprising comprehension of Al Capone history.

Then there was the history and the setting. The hotel itself is gorgeous, but then there is the historical Chicago aspect incorporated that makes it even more original. “The Capone”, “The Vault”, etc – it was all amazing! I loved how Agresti mixed historical aspects into the storyline without overwhelming us.

The idea of selling souls is creepy to say the least. How Haven finds out about it all is a mysterious book, which, for me, felt a little weird. At least how Haven reacted to the mysterious person writing her messages and knowing all this information about her. At first she reacted normally, but then she just… went with it. I really wanted her to find out it was her mother or something, but I guess that’ll be uncovered in the next novel!

I loved Illuminate! It was fast paced, exciting, and fresh. The storyline will pull you in from the start, and hopefully not steal your soul like it did mine.

We’ll be interviewing Aimee Agresti on the blog, so keep a look out for that in the coming weeks!

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