Illuminate- Aimee Agresti

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 Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything changes when she is awarded a prestigious internship at a posh Chicago hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous 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 discoveres that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers 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?

Haven Terra grew up as a nobody. She was unpopular in school, to the point that her classmates did not really know who she was, and she only had one true friend, Dante. She spent her days applying to colleges, completing scholarships and helping her subtitute mother, Joan, at the local hospital. Even though unpopular, Haven seemed content with her life, pleased that she was not left to die on the side of the road when she was only five-years-old.

The story starts off with Haven and two of her classmates, Dante and Lance, be awarded an intership at a new, popular business, The Lexington Hotel. The only trouble is, Haven cannot seem to remember applying for an internship at this particular hotel.  Soon enough, the three teenagers are busy bustling around The Lexington Hotel, catering to every wim of the two front runners of the hotel, Aurelia and Lucian.

When I first started this book, I was bored. It took approximately 350 pages for explanations of what was going on to emerge. As this book is 534 pages long, I found myself losing my patience quickly. The majority of the novel also seemed to be very repetitive. Haven woke up, spoke to Aurelia, worked in the gallery and took pictures at The Vault. This happened over and over, multiple times in a single chapter. I almost felt as if I was repeatedly reading the same scenario over and over for almost 500 pages.

The characters in the novel were very unique. Haven, Dante and Lance all had interesting personalities, and they acted like one would expect a normal teenager to act like. Due to this, I almost wished that there would have been multiple point of views, rather than having Haven narrate the entire time. The members of The Outfit were another case entirely. They were emotionless, almost zombie like. While that seemed to be the overall point of The Outfit, I could not help but get annoyed, as they appeared in a large majority of the novel. I also had a slight problem with the character of Dante. As an out-of-the-closet gay teenager, Dante was very loud and flashy. I eventually warmed up to his character. However, I could not help but feel that there was an automatic stereotype placed upon him. I almost wish that Dante’s character would have been toned down, as I think that he would have appealed to me a lot more.

Towards the end of the book, things really started to get rushed along. The fight and actions scenes were completed in a manner of pages. This bothered me since the majority of the book was so long and stretched out. I think that it would have been plausible to eliminate a chunk of the book and include a larger ending action scene. Even though I felt that the ending was short, I did feel that the last 150 pages were well executed. It did not entirely make up for the majority of the book. However, it left me wanting more.

Overall, I have to say that this book was addicting in its own unique way. While I did not fall in love with it, I did not want to put it down either. I think this may be due to the fact that so much was left unsaid through the majority of the novel. I just knew that I had to figure out what was going on. I have to commend Aimee Agresti for the mystery in her plotline. One would think that because of the length of the book, it would be easy to guess what was going to occur. However, I was left wondering what was going on almost to the point that everything was revealed. I think that this book would greatly appeal to people who like a lengthy read and a good challenge. However, I have to warn people again that the first 350 pages are very repetitive. This book really just comes down to personal opinion, and I think that opinions of this book will be split down the middle.

 

Pages: 534

Publication Date: March, 2012

Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books

Format: ARC

Rating: [rating: 2]

 

Teaser Quote: Now that I was in bed, my body completely dropped its defenses. Everything ached. I was sweating torrents. My muscles felt like they were contracting and tearing, twisting like wet rags being wrung out. My stomach swam and lurched, a toxic pool threatening to rise up. But I was too drained to get up again so I just tried to imagine away the nausea. With my eyes closed I could still feel the rush of the spinning-it felt like I was being whipped around on that ride they had at the summer fair every year, the Scrambler. I felt myself falling into sleep, willed myself into it, knowing I would have to feel better on the other side of this.

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