Kavanand's Reviews > Illuminate

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti
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Feb 04, 2012

really liked it
Read in January, 2012

Haven is a studious, quiet teenager who doesn't quite fit it in at her high school. She feels very ordinary and unimportant, so she's stunned when she and two of her fellow students are given an amazing internship. They get to leave school for a semester to move to nearby Chicago and work at a historic hotel, which is undergoing a glamorous reopening. Haven, her best friend Dante, and fellow smart kid Lance are a bit overwhelmed by their good fortune. The hotel is a luxurious place visited by the rich and famous. Everyone who works there is stunningly gorgeous, although most of them are rather lacking in personality. As perfect as this world seems, there's clearly something strange going on underneath it all, and Haven and her fellow interns are swept up into the mystery.

Illuminate is an exciting new YA paranormal debut, and it avoids the pitfalls of the genre. There’s no unbelievable instant love here. Haven does feel an instant attraction for the mysterious Lucian, but she's a practical girl and not the type to rush into anything. She may find Lucian fascinating, but she holds back, and it's refreshing to find a YA heroine who doesn't drop everything at the first sign of love. She's a smart capable young woman, and I liked her a lot.

Haven and her fellow interns are caught up in the glamour and excitement of their new world, but she can’t help but notice that something seems off about the hotel staff. They’re all a little too perfect, and that perfection is a bit creepy. I liked the way the plot slowly unfolded. Haven's growing nervousness, her increasing isolation from her best friend Dante, and her tense relationship with her beautiful but scary boss Aurelia all contribute to the sense of unease. I liked how Haven formed an alliance with Lance. Their quiet bond was one of the highlights of the book for me.

I highly recommend Illuminate. It makes a pleasant change from the typical YA paranormal with a dull heroine who falls instantly in love with a dreamy but dangerous angel/werewolf/vampire/etc. If you like smart, capable heroines, you’ll enjoy this book. I also liked the fact that the story had a resolution, but there are still unanswered questions that the author can explore in subsequent books.

I received an ARC from Amazon Vine.
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