Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Illuminate: review

Title: Illuminate (Gilded Wings #1)
Author: Aimee Agresti
Genres: ya paranormal, angels, urban fantasy
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? 

This was so much better than I expected!

I am not a fan of the angel genre. I have tried a few of the popular series' like Fallen, Unearthly, Angelfire, Angel (no-not the Max Ride one!), Daughter of Smoke and Bone...and I was very unimpressed with all of them, putting them all down halfway through (mostly because it's a God themed genre of books, and as an atheist, it didn't grab me)...I know, very sad. I didn't realize until recently that the City of Bones books are totally angel books. Those don't count! I worship those books. :) It's just way differently approached, so it's set apart. This is also true for Illuminate.

It starts off strong, not focusing much at all on the high school setting and soon enough we are swept up in the amazing Lexington Hotel. I learned lots about Chicago history! Al Capone and the Outfit being the centre of things. I have to say that the setting and all it's surprises has to be my favorite part of the book. The Vault- nightclub, felt real and vibrant. The focus of photography, from the black and white original pictures from the 20s to the new ones Haven takes that start to...change.

At first, Haven really annoyed me! For about the first 30 pages. She comes off as a true nerd in every term, so I should have related to her, but it was in the bookish college fast track way, not the sic-fi way I am, I guess. So she says things like, "She folded the napkin into an isosceles triangle."...yeah, sort of wordy, but it doesn't last long, or maybe I just got used to it. Haven really grows up in here though, in her coming of age story. She is smart of course, but is way out of her league. Unfortunately she follows directions blindly from a diary that has writing appearing in it nightly...Riddle anyone? So besides that stupidness, she is a very resourceful and determined protagonist.

Dante is pretty cool, but I don't like his favorite word, 'superhot'. There really needs to be a space there. My favorite character was Lance! Keep an eye on him. :)

The selling point in me picking up Illuminate was Josephine Angelini's blurb on the cover..."Part The Picture of Dorian Gray, part The Devil Wears Prada...." I read no further. What could THAT mean?? What a bizarre mix!!! And I have to say now, after reading it, that's exactly the way to describe it!

I don't really know what to say about the plot. It's in the angel genre, no doubt, but as this is the first book in the series, or trilogy-not sure yet, there is not much angelic stuff till the end (which I liked!) And there is no God connection/mention, though there is Satan, I suppose. More focused on the mythology of it, than the religion aspect. It's all weaved into something strange and hooking, and I am glad to have read this. I can't wait till the next one! Loved the ending, but I do need more.


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