Illuminate by Aimee Agresti (Gilded Wings, #1)
"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?
Illuminate is an exciting saga of a teen’s first taste of independence, her experience in the lap of luxury, and her discovery she may possess strength greater than she ever knew."
If there is only one angel/demon-related novel you read this year, Illuminate should be that book.
Now. Don't get scared that this novel, because I mentioned angels, is anything like the annoying angel books out on the YA market already. This novel, while having angelic undertones, is NOT religious, boring or mundane.
It's original, fresh and full of intrigue and mystery.
Okay. Selling points? Check. Done.
Now, let's get on with my ramble-full review.
Haven Terra. Oh, Haven. You're my newest, toughest, most beloved heroine to date. I love your personality, your brazenness, your scars that make you who you are. You're not idiotic, or whiny like a few other heroines in the popular angel books (ah-hem, Nora and Luce...not to point fingers or anything). You're wonderfully flawed, which makes you perfect.
Suffice to say, I have a girl-crush on you. (Hahah. Sorry, peeps. But it's kind of true.)
Okay, done with my confessions. Now onto other characters...
Lucian, on the other hand, is a slime ball. I'm so glad to have trusted myself in hating this sleaze. (He's like Crowley via Supernatural--charming, and oh, yeah, FREAKING EVIL! Then again...that'd be an insult to Crowley, so Lucian is a brand all his own of nasty.)
Dante, would you be my BFF? I loved Dante's character, and despite some shaky ground there for a while, he's one of the awesome 'sidekicks' you want on your team.
Lance. OMFG. I love you! I WANT your horn-rimmed glasses, too, btw, since I cannot find a pair anywhere in my shit town. As with Lucian, I'm so glad to have trusted my instincts about you. You're interesting, shy, charming and wonderful. Thank you so much for that ending, too. You made me forgive Haven for something I know she regretted and made a huge smile steal my face. Thank you. You made the novel awesome.
And, last (as I know she'd hate being last, which it why I did it. I'm evil like that) Aurelia. Despite being fierce, beautiful and evil. I don't like you. Normally, I love evil characters, but you my dear, are a heartless bitch of the lowest kind. (More so than Prince--readers, you can learn about him when you read the novel. I don't care for him enough to summarize my feelings about him). Aurelia does things in this novel that made me cringe a little. Yikes.
Okay. Character profiles? Check.
Opinionated review? Check.
The premise instantly drew me in. The hotel in which the setting mainly takes place enchanted me with its secret passageways via Prohibition and it's Capone stories. The characters were well developed, likable/hatable (with good cause) depending on the character, and the entire story, despite being longer than shit (at 511 pages--with small text!) managed to capture me completely in it's web and did not let me down once.
Well done. The best angel themed novel I've read...Ever. And one of the best YA debuts, as well.
Also, that cover? GORGEOUS. (Despite that model's freaky-looking back. Blech.)
Can't wait for more! 5/5 stars.