Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Review: Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti
Series: Gilded Wings #1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
First published: March 6th, 2012
Source: NetGalley
Format: eARC
Pages: 531
Goodreads Summary:
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

First thoughts:
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!

More detailed:
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

Aimee Agresti - interesting links:
Goodreads | Twitter | Website

Have you already read this? What did you think about it?
Do you plan to read it?


  1. Great review Carina. The slow pace did catch up to me but I still enjoyed the book overall. I agree no one could hate Lance, and even Lucian regardless of his secrets. I really enjoyed the guys in this :)

  2. I want! I want! I want! lol It sounds AMAZING! And your review makes me want it even more. ;)

  3. Oh, wow. Your review was just wonderful Carina! I know what you mean about slow pace books, sometimes they turn me off and I have to push through, but Illuminate sounds amazing. I'm so glad you loved this one. I'm even mroe confident to get Illuminate very very soon. Thanks for sharing your thoughts/feelings. It was so great to read. <3

  4. I loved this one as well! The writing really sucked me in, and of course the characters were awesome as well. I love Dante and Lance, although I'm still not sure what to make of Lucian. I can't wait to see what happens next. Great review :)

  5. My deaaaaaaaaaar! Im so jealous! I want to read this book but I have such a big pile right now plus tones of homework T_T... I'll get to it as soon as I finish school!

    Love your review my sweet! I had no idea it was this awesome! I read great reviews about it, but nothing like this. Regadless its slow pace, it seems that this slowness is very well written. Im so happy for that my dear! Cant wait to get it!

  6. This sounds so awesome and I'd love to read it! Totally going to get it very soon. I'm so excited to see you loved it so much! I always thought the premise and cover was great but reading such a raving review....

    I don#t mind slow paced books as long as they still manage to keep me hooked!

  7. Amazing review, Carina! I'm so glad to hear to hear that the book was as great as its cover. It definitely sounds like a book I'd enjoy so I'll look forward to picking it up!

  8. Argh I wanna read this one so bad! I fell in love with the cover than the summary sounded so awesome! I am going to have to run out and get this book ASAP. Great review!

  9. Your review has me dying to read this! I'm so excited for get it. It sounds like my kind of book. Thanks for the review!

    - Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl

  10. Wow, great review! Illuminate wasn't very high on my to-read list, but since you put it away I don't think I'll be able to ignore it :) I really need one of these books that make you feel like you're on the main character's skin, really connect with her.

  11. Yay! I'm glad to find another fan of Illuminate. I thought it was just fantastic! You're right about Dante and Lance--they were such great supporting characters! But Haven was just perfect. Loved her!
    Great review, Carina, thanks! :)
    - Lauren

  12. Wow, great review! Glad to hear you thought so highly of this one! I'd been debating buying a copy, but I think you've just convinced me that I need it! :D


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