Jessica's books

The One and Only Ivan
Revolutionary War on Wednesday
Leprechaun in Late Winter
Ella Enchanted
The Courage of Sarah Noble
Plain Murder
Gone-Away Lake
Circling the Sun
Maggie and Max
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
The Night Sister
Tuck Everlasting
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Bedknob and Broomstick
Mister Monday
Alice Through the Looking Glass
The Birchbark House
The Hobbit
The Witch's Daughter

Jessica's favorite books »

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book Review: Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Illuminate (Gilded Wings, #1)
**Received this book from Around the World ARC Tours for review**

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  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.

My Thoughts:  Haven lost her parents when she was young and now lives with the nurse who found her by the side of the road.  Haven is a good student and very smart.  She is surprised however when she get picked, along with two other students (Lance and her best friend, Dante) at her school, for a prestigious internship at a hotel in Chicago.

 The Lexington Hotel is run by Aurelia, who is beautiful and perfect.  Lucian is her assistant and is very good looking and mysterious.  Haven's job is to take pictures of the "Outfit", people who are perfect, beautiful and eerily, the same.  She must also take pictures of herself and the two other students that came along with her. 

 As Lucian starts to pay more and more attention to Haven, she can't help but start to fall for him.  Haven and Lance (her fellow intern) start exploring the hotel however, and discover what Aurelia's real plan is.  It is up to Haven, Lance and Dante to figure out how to stop Aurelia.

 I liked this book but didn't love it.  It was a little too long and drawn out for me.  For me it started out a little slowly too but not enough that I put it away.  I was really pulled into it after they got to the hotel and met the Outfit, Aurelia and Lucian.

I loved the little bits of history in this book.  It told about the Lexington Hotel (really was a hotel) and had several references to Capone and his gang.  I found all this really interesting and found (after a little Google search) that the author got these facts right and they were not made up.  That made it even more fun for me.

Haven was a pretty good character.  I liked how smart she was and how she knew when not to speak.  She really wants to help others and has a great work ethic which I think is important for teens to see.  She was kinda a "goody goody" and that was a little annoying but all in all, I really liked her.  

Dante is funny and a lot of the entertainment in this book but he is the stereotypical gay best friend.  He loves to shop, cook, can do great up-dos and gossips like a girl.  It was a little annoying that that was how he was portrayed but he was pretty funny and so I found I overlooked it for the most part.  

So, here are a couple of the issues I had with this book:

The school and Joan, Haven's guardian, just let these kids go for 6 months without really knowing anything about the hotel or the people who are restoring it.  I honestly don't know any high school that would let kids "skip" 6 months of instruction for an internship.  Maybe if it had been during the summer for 3 months that would have been more believable.

Joan and Haven are very close at the beginning of the book.  Joan is in her fifties and is alone except for Haven. However, once Haven leaves for the hotel, which is only an hour away from home, she hardly visits or sees Joan at all.  It just seemed odd that she was so close to home but visited so little.  

There were other things, like the romance between Lucian and Haven (she really lets him walk all over her, canceling dates, etc) and a few unanswered questions but after getting through the first part, it was pretty interesting and fast paced.  It slowed down a little towards the end but it still a page turner.  I would recommend borrowing this one before buying to make sure you like it.

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