Monday, March 19, 2012

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti - Review

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti
Published: March 6, 2012
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books

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?

My Review:
Haven Terra was found abandoned in a ditch when she was a child. She is taken in and raised by one of the nurses at the hospital. Haven is very smart but worries she won't have the money to attend college. When she is accepted as an intern at a prestigious hotel in Chicago, she is very excited for the opportunity, even though she didn't apply for it, because she knows this will help to open doors for her. Her best friend, Dante, and another student from her school, a boy she barely knows, is also chosen. They will be living and working at the hotel, effectively cutting off most communication with their families. Not long after arriving, Haven starts realizing that something just isn't right with the other people running and working at the hotel.

Illuminate started off very slowly. Everything was explained in great detail, from the hotel itself, to the nightclub, to the way everyone looked and what they wore. About halfway through the book, I was still wondering when the action was going to begin. There really isn't much action until almost the very end of the book. Until then, it is basically just reading about Haven going about her day, following orders she is given from reading cryptic messages that mysteriously appear in a book she found with her name on it, and eavesdropping to find out bits of pieces of the puzzle. 

I found a large portion of this book to just not be believable. I enjoy books of this genre, but they must be set up in such a way that it feels believable to me. At 16 years old, she goes to this hotel, her adoptive mother simply drops Haven off out front without going in to meet the people herself and then is obviously fine with almost almost no communication with her. I also never could understand why she would just do everything she was told to do in the mysterious book she found. She was putting herself in physical danger and she knew she was, but she crawled through secret passages and ran along corridors every night simply because she was told to by the book. Furthermore, I wasn't too fond of the cliched best friend, Dante. He is the quintessential gay guy who loves to gossip, is able to cook gourmet meals, fix hair, and whip up a fabulous outfit in the blink of an eye.

The underlying concept of this book is truly an interesting one. It is a unique twist on the battle of good versus evil, angel versus devil. I just felt like it took too long to get to the point. At over 500 pages, this book could have easily had at least 100 pages cut from it. I also finished it feeling like I still had a lot of unanswered questions. In the end, it just wasn't for me, but I would recommend it to others who enjoy this type of book.

Reviewed as part of a traveling tour.

About the author:
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 whose work has appeared in People, Premiere, DC Magazine, Capitol File, The Washington Post, Washingtonian, The Washington City Paper, Boston magazine, Women’s Health and the New York Observer to name a few. Aimee has made countless TV and radio appearances dishing about celebrities on the likes of Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, E!, The Insider, Extra, VH1, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, Headline News, A&E, and ABC News Now. 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.

You can find out more about Aimee Agresti and how to connect with her on her website.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review :)
    I love that cover, it's gorgeous.
    It's sad to hear it was a bit slow as I've been looking forward to this for a while. I'll still give it a read though! :)



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