*This title will be released on March 6, 2012*
Okay – A few good points, but with significant flaws. Library/swap/borrow if you want.
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.
Angel books tend to be hit or miss for me. More often than not I find them to be more on the hellish than heavenly side and especially prone to unoriginality. As much as I was hoping ILLUMINATE by Aimee Agresti would be a bright exception, it wasn’t.
The writing is decent, especially in the vivid description passages of the Lexington Hotel and the exquisite architecture and art that defined Chicago in the 1920’s. I also liked the overt nods to THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, but I had an issue with the opening premise that unfortunately set the tone for the rest of the book. Haven and two other brilliant academics from her high school get chosen to participate in an internship living and working at the famous Lexington Hotel. Poof, all three are excused from the rest of the school year and shipped off. It’s a job. They get paid. There are no classes. None of the adults in the story have any problem with these three teenagers essentially dropping out of school for the rest of the year to do this. What? If it was during the summer, that’s one thing, but this was in the middle of the school year. Worse still, all three are assigned semi random jobs that apart from Haven’s photography, they have little to no experience with. Like having to paint a master level mural after visiting a museum for a few hours. It made no sense.
It didn’t help that Haven was saddled with a superficial and annoying best friend named Dante who ran around squeeing about all the hot guys he saw and dressing up Haven like she was his personal Barbie doll. The other characters, with one exception, were also stereotypes that reoccur in every other paranormal book out there. And wow was it long. Plus there are these frustratingly cryptic messages that Haven gets full of meaningless platitudes and insipid lines about trusting herself and being prepared for anything. Super helpful.
ILLUMINATE is not the heavenly read it wanted to be. Clichéd characters, recycled plotlines, and a bloated narrative made for a tedious and uninspired read. If you’re looking for demons and angels in YA try the Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick, the Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand, or THE SPACE BETWEEN by Brenna Yovanoff. This one was a dud.