Series: Gilded Wings #1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
First published: March 6th, 2012
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?
My Rating: 5.0 / 5
Wow - one word, three letters, and it's enough to sum up what I'm thinking about Illuminate. I expected to like this novel, but I was completely blown away by its awesomeness. Aimee Agresti created an enchanting world full of decadence, mysteries and excitement that pulled me in and won't let me go that soon. I need the sequel now!
Usually I'm not a fan of slow-paced books and even though that's exactly what Illuminate is, I fell in love with it. Aimee Agresti has a wonderful way of weaving in crucial information into the most mundane-seeming scenes, which kept me on my toes and had me constantly wondering about the importance of every sentence.
Haven is a wonderful main character, who is easy to relate to. Despite the YA cliché of a heroine who thinks of herself as quite ordinary but finds that out that she is special, I loved witnessing her development during the course of the story. There are still many questions she needs to find answers to and I can't wait to get them along with her.
The other characters you encounter in Illuminate are diverse and will make it hard for you to decide whether you hate them or not. Of course it's impossible to hate Dante and Lance - the first being the kind of best friend a girl can only dream of and the latter turning out to be a wonderful surprise. But especially the opinions about Lucian will be very different. I ended up loving him and really hope that he will have the chance to develop more in the future.
Especially the first half of Illuminate made me think a lot of myself, which does not happen often nowadays as I'm reading so many books in a very short time. What is your attitude towards "good and evil?" If you had the choice to get anything that you want, what would you be willing to give up? Everything, even your soul? Haven and her friends are confronted with so many important questions, which I rarely thought about, and I loved being confronted with them as well.
All in all, Illuminate is a seductive story which answered just enough questions for me to be content with its ending, but will have me crave its sequel to find out more about Haven's future. I absolutely love Aimee's beautiful writing which made me finally appreciate a slower pace and can't wait to see what she has in store for the characters I have grown so fond of. If this has not been on your to-read list until now, add it. You will definitely not regret reading it.
Debut Author Challenge 2012