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Book Review: Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Haven was discovered on the side of a road when she was five and those first few years remain a mystery. It is not the only mystery, for there are things Haven doesn’t know about herself. About her scars. And about powers she isn’t aware that she possesses – yet.                                                                                                                     

When Haven is one of three teens invited to live and intern at a posh Chicago hotel, it seems the chance of the lifetime. With her best friend Dante and fellow student Lance by her side, she enters a world reserved for rock stars and diplomats. These three teens are each given a different task to perform in the hotel and Haven’s involves her ability to take amazing photographs. This becomes an important part of this story, an interesting take on the current angel phenomena that is taking the paranormal world by storm.   Also, an interesting play on The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Haven is being mentored personally by the hotel owner Aurelia. Aurelia is the type of villain who ripples with an evil malice just under the surface. She schemes, she plots and she does not appreciate it when things don’t go her way. She is a modern day Maleficent, assured and possessing a strong, evil grace that is difficult to ignore. She commands a room and holds its attention. She is surrounded by a posse of minions known as The Outfit, a group of strikingly beautiful teens who seem to possess a sort of docile hive mind; they know their place and they stay in it for reasons that slowly unravel and are part of the core of Illuminate’s mystery. Evil can not survive without food after all.

Haven’s journey is guided in part by a mysterious book she finds. The pages empty at first, they slowly begin to fill with words and guide her journey. She has an important part to play, but she is not the only one.

Illuminate is a compelling story about destiny, good versus evil, and the path we take to come into our own.  Haven is a thoughtful, intelligent character who begins with a bit of naivete’ but slowly is forced to make decisions that help her build courage and strength.  Some of the other characters take interesting turns as well, surprising you in ways you don’t expect.

Agresti can turn some powerful phrases and is clearly a talented writer.  The only quibble one could have with Illuminate is that it is perhaps a tad too long; there were a few moments where the pacing languished which was a shame because those moments that sizzled with excitement did so to the nth degree.  Fans of the Hush Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick and the Fallen series by Lauren Kate will be lining up to read this.  Recommended. – Karen

As a side note, the cover of Illuminate by Aimee Agresti would certainly lend itself well to the Teen Program in a Box on Angel Covers.

Aimee Agresti is an entertainment journalist and author.  Illuminate is her first novel for teens.  You can visit her at her website www.aimeeagresti.com.  Illuminate is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and you can visit them at www.hmhbooks.com.