Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review: Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Title: Illuminate
Author: Aimee Agresti
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Age Group: Young Adult
Category:  Paranormal
Release date: March 6th, 2012
Pages: 531 (ebook)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Netgalley

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?

In all honesty, this book took me a while to get into, considering that most of the story was focused establishing characters and the surrounding.  We don't see much action until the near end, but that's not to say that Illuminate isn't interesting.  I was fascinated by the hotel alone, as it reminded me of one of my favorite hotels. I enjoyed the characters, especially Haven and Lance, and there was definitely something that made my skin crawl about Aurelia and the Outfit from day one.

When it comes to books, my preferred length is about 400 pages or less, so I was a little hesitant to begin this.  As it turns out, my instincts were correct and I found my eyes glazing over at points of the story.  Don't get me wrong, learning about these characters lives were entertaining but the book is unnecessarily drawn out and I don't think there's any reason it should have been as long as it is.  That being said, the good actually outweighs the bad.

Aimee takes her time to describe the surroundings and that made the story thoroughly enjoyable.  I loved the references to the 1920's, especially the tunnels that Haven discovers in her closet one night with the help of a mysterious advice-giving book.  Each of the students invited for this internship turns out to be more than the most intelligent, hardworking students at school.  I didn't quite understand that this book was about angels until about half way through, and although I'm not familiar with stories of this subject, I loved it.

The author creates an interesting and intimidating world about the battle between good and evil.  Some may consider this a paranormal romance, but to me, there was a lot more than the romance that sprouts at the very end.  This book is about friendship, trust, and being true to yourself more than anything.  Though lengthy and slower-paced, this story was more than it seems and you may just have to dive in and see for yourself.


  1. I don't do too well with slow-paced books but I'm willing to give this one a try! Great review!

  2. Wow, I never realized this book was over 500 pages! That doesn't necessarily scare me away, unless of course a book is just drawn out like you said. I'm still intrigued by the premise of this book and look forward to picking it up!

    Kristan @ Lost Amongst the Shelves