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?Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook
Publication Date: March 6th, 2012
Publisher: Harcourt's Children Books
Original Language: English
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: From the publisher via NetGalley
Buy the Book: Amazon
Lootability: Grab it and go!
Illuminate is the coming of age story of Haven Terra who is granted her first taste of independence in the form of a sophisticated and illustrious internship at the Al Capone Lexington Hotel in Chicago. This supernatural thriller follows Haven as she discovers powers and strengths she didn't know she had, all while taking her first dip into love, lust and dangerous attractions.
What I Liked: First off, the story was superbly written. I never expected where the story was heading and was impressed with the way it developed. I was impressed with the way Agresti maintained Haven's voice while writing as a believable teenager.
Haven was clever, collected and hard working in a way I recognised from my time in high school (I wasn't that bad but I had friends who were). She was acceptably naive and inexperienced, but not completely unprepared or lacking in confidence. Agresti took a step away from other YA writers and let the romance in her book develop slowly and naturally. It wasn't an unexpected - I can't resist you and your body - moment, nor was it rife with sexual tension; it developed gently but not obviously, and felt natural. I appreciated the change, it was more real that I find in other YA novels.
Her companions were acceptable as high school peers; I loved Dante's outrageous energy and Lance's quiet, witty dignity.
I loved the Al Capone theme of the Lexington Hotel. The group that hovers around Aurelia, Haven's mentor, and help run the hotel are known as the Outfit - like Capone's gang while hotel's two restaurants are named Capone and Alcatraz. The history included in the book was fascinating and has left me wanting to learn more about Al Capone and his stay at the Lexington Hotel.
What I Didn't Like: Haven accepts revelations about her true nature very easily, and then so do the people who she shares it with. I'd like someone to take some time to accept such insane truths.