Thursday, March 29, 2012

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Publisher: Harcourte Children's Books

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?  - Goodreads.com

At first, I wasn't sure what I was going to think of this story.  It started off a little slow for me.  I know there was a lot of set up going on, but I almost felt that the author could have started the story off with Haven's arrival at the hotel, with a few small flashbacks to catch the reader up to her purpose there.  Going through all the events leading up to her arrival seemed to make the story plod a little at first.  However, I'm glad I stuck with it.

Once she arrives at the hotel, it doesn't take long for things to really take off and for the story to begin heating up.  By reading the summary, I had the idea that the story was going to go one certain direction, but it turns out that the summary is a little misleading.  I was pleasantly surprised though by where the author took things.  This was an intriguing and unique idea that I haven't really seen much of in other books, so she had something fresh and new here that was very interesting to read.

The characters were great, especially Haven.  She was smart, but add to that the fact that she's also able to keep her mouth shut when she needs to, and you've got an interesting character.  So much of the time, you see a heroine in stories and they end up telling everybody and their dog what's going on, and end up getting herself in a heap of trouble by telling the wrong person.  Haven kept her mouth shut though.  Of course, this meant she had to carry the burden on her own for a while, but when she did choose to tell someone, she made the right choice at the right time.

I wasn't sure if I'd like her pairing with the romantic lead, because he isn't typically the kind of guy in books that makes me swoon... but I stuck with it and he grew on me.  He was a great character.

Bottom line, this was a a really good story, a fast read, and great characters.  I am definitely looking forward to the sequel.

If you liked this book, be watching for the next installment, as yet untitled, and due to out in 2013.

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