Book Review: Illuminate

Book Review: IlluminateIlluminate by Aimee Agresti
Series: Gilded Wings #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on March 6th 2012
Pages: 531

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?

Another good vs evil… I want your soul type read. Despite Illuminate's gorgeous cover, I was really on the fence with this one. Had the potential to be super amazing or super disappointing.
Angel books and I do not have the greatest history. Find one that I like, then the next thing I know, five other books are coming out with a similar premise. To a certain point, the angel aspect has been beaten to death. But something about this blurb gave me a ray of hope.
Illuminate begins with Haven Terra and a group of classmates all discovering that their school year is no longer their own. Instead, they have been selected to work at an internship for an up and coming hotel. Right away, I was a little put off by this premise. Three high school students. Full-time internship in place of school. No actual school like work to speak of. Does any one else see the problem with this? Maybe it would have been better if it was set during Summer Break, but as it was, I had a hard time buying into the idea that the parents, the school, even the kids were all okay with this situation.
Not wanting this specific detail to hinder my whole reading experience of Illuminate, I decided to put this in the back of my mind. Once I did and got past the first half of the book, Illuminate really started coming to life. Unfortunately, there are a few other details that I almost forced myself to buy into, but the later half of Illuminate was so much more captivating than the first half. Haven really began to shine here. All the pieces Dante, Lance, and Lucian fall into place. The second half of the book really made Illuminate into a fantastic read. Yes, this is one of those books that you have to stick with for a bit for things to get going. I know I was happy I did.
Final Verdict:
Illuminate is one of those book where less would have been more. The story and premise as a whole were completely captivating. Offering something a bit different to the whole Angel premise. Yet, Illuminate suffers by adding in more than what the reader really needs. Take away the countless pointless tasks that our MCs are forced to do, and a good chunk of the book would have disappeared and made the pacing so much better. Bottomline, Illuminate is not a bad read. Actually, it is quite the opposite. By the end of the book, I was completely invested and glue to its pages. Yes, it took me a while to get to that point, but in the end, I did and really enjoyed what Agresti had to offer.
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5 responses to “Book Review: Illuminate

  1. I’m glad you finally ended up enjoying this, but, I have to confess, there just seem to be way too many angel books around at the moment and I will probably skip this. Lovely cover though! Thanks for the review 🙂

  2. Rita Webb

    Beautiful cover. But when you said, “To a certain point, the angel aspect has been beaten to death,” I cheered. Someone else agrees with me! Geez, they almost seem to outrank vampires lately in quantity. Yet, I’ve enjoyed the few angel stories I have read, and all the ones that make me roll my eyes, I haven’t read yet. So in other words, my opnion doesn’t count.

  3. Krista

    I’ve been wanting to read this one! I’m glad that you enjoyed it by the end. That sucks that it took a while to get into. I have a love/hate relationship with angel books but I can’t help but be intrigued by this one. Thanks for the great review!

  4. Christina Kit.

    I really like angel books (I don’t mind reading about the same lore, same thing with werewolves etc) and I LOVED Illuminate. I think it was totally original. And with the work instead of school thing, it didn’t really bother me. I think that’s part of an underlying reason.

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