March 6th, 2012 ∙ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Publisher (plus special thanks to Sara for sending me the copy!)
Page Count: 514
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.
I struggled in the beginning and though it took me quite a while to fully submerge into the story of Illuminate, in the end I can happily say it redeemed itself.
Aimee Agresti has a beautiful prose. I simply loved the way she described the setting in such a stunningly manner, engulfing your senses.
The characters are an interesting bunch that’s for sure. The protagonist, Haven – smart, brave and a little geeky (but in a good way) – is a character I imagine readers will be able to relate to. Very much in the sense that like your average teen, Haven, is unsure, insecure and still figuring out she is. It was a pleasure watching her mature and grow as a person since first making her acquaintance and her arriving at Lexington Hotel.
As for the other characters, Lance is such a sweetheart and a fantastic friend. I really loved his character and can’t wait to read more about him in following books to come. For most of the book, I didn’t like Lucian but my opinion of him soon changed once a few things were revealed. Though Aurelia is a bad character, I liked her in the sense that she reminded me of a Disney villain - positively wicked! *insert evil laugh* Ferocious, over the top, Dante, certainly added to the mix and last but not least Joan, who is completely sweet and like a true, overprotective mother.
Though I found it hard to connect with the story at the start, I persevered and kept on and eventually came to a point in the story where instead of struggling to continue on, my interest piqued and all of a sudden I needed to know what was going to happen and how it was all going to end!
I know the length – 500 pages – might be a little intimidating, but if your willing to give it a fair go and invest a bit of your time into a good book full of mystery and intrigue, take a chance on Illuminate!
P.S – Think the cover is pretty online? Just imagine it in person!