Author: Aimee Agresti
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Haven is brainy and shy, but then she's offered an internship in Chicago and heads off to the big city, along with her friend Dante and fellow classmate Lance. They end up at the Lexington Hotel, a very stylish hotel run by owner Aurelia Brown, her second-in-command Lucian, and a stunning staff known as The Outfit. But then Haven learns they're not what they seem, that in the secret passageways underneath the hotel, Aurelia's in the business of buying souls. Haven's left with a choice, joining them or thwarting their plan.
This book was mysterious and complicated, rather lush with a gorgeous setting, and subtle hints at danger growing as the book continued. A different take on a YA novel involving angels, Illuminate told an interesting story, but the length kept me from enjoying this book.
It was clear that the author drew from The Portrait of Dorian Gray in this book, the portraits of the members of The Outfit altering over time, showing their true selves. The original book is about good and evil, an exploration of the soul and the evilness that taints it but leaves appearances pure and young, about deals with the devil and acting without consequences until you wonder whether you're living or merely existing, if you deserve to live. This book isn't necessarily about all those things, but it does include Haven's own search to discover who she is and what power she has.
Haven was intelligent, cautious, and very careful. She knew what had to be done, what secrets to keep from others. She wasn't rushing blindly into situations (unless it called for it). Her mysterious book was something of a cliché, though. Still, I was curious as to who was sending her messages.
And I was surprised there wasn't as much romance as I'd expected. Yes, Haven's drawn to Lucian, but she has her suspicions, has her own worries, has her own questions, and she doesn't always have time to fawn over him, especially when she starts learning The Outfit's secrets.
Unfortunately, the length of this book kept turning me off. There were so many details about setting, and so much set up over the slowly increasing tension and confusion and danger. At over 500 pages, this book is rather long. The story was interesting enough to keep me reading, but I can't get past the length.
Even with the large page count, I'm sure there will be some readers that appreciate the gradual discovery and the suspenseful climb towards an explosive climax.
(I borrowed an advance copy from another book review blogger.)