Source: Amazon Vine
Publication Date: 06 Mar 2012
Series or Standalone: Series
Format: Paperback (ARC)
The author on the web:
Place(s) Traveled to: Evanston, Illinois // Chicago, Illinois
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
First Line: Up until that point, English class had been unremarkable.
Gilded Wings Series Order
Book 1 – Illuminate
Book 2 – Untitled (~2013)
Illuminate by Aimee Agresti is a book that falls into the “pretty cover syndrome” in which a gorgeous cover gives lots of promise to the contents but that the words inside never quite live up. As I was reading this one I kept referring to it as the book of no plot as nothing ever seemed to happen. Which you might think odd since not only is Illuminate 531 pages long but its the start of a series. But while there are many words and descriptions (and endless mentions of how heels make the MCs feet hurt in a multitude of ways) there isn’t a whole lot of substance.
As a whole I found the main character, Haven Terra (sidenote: why do MCs never seem to have normal names anymore? everything must be so exotic), anywho…the main character is supposed to be this uber genius and yet I never really got that. She was a very passive heroine for most of the book taking everything in stride and following orders that magically appeared to her in a book without question. Now, while I might not be the genius that Haven is supposed to be, I don’t see myself blindly following magic words in a book. I know it was supposed to add suspense and make the whole plotless book have plot and substance and a sinister feel….but those thoughts and feelings that I know I’m supposed to have never materialized. I just kept asking (often aloud to the amusement of friends nearby) why she would take a books word for anything.
Then there are the other people in the hotel. There are these group of super pretty people who work there, called The Outfit, and while they are supposed to add a sense of sophistication and also sinister air…they were nothing more than zombies. The MC mentions repeatedly attempted conversations only to be met with blank stares and how they would then shuffle away. Even when the wisps of a plot started to form all these zombie-like folk just never really seemed to have much purpose. Haven also arrived at the hotel with her BFF Dante, who was so stereotypical gay that he was just very 1 dimensional and never seemed like a real person. And since he spent most of the book off page it doesn’t seem like Agresti had much use for him either and so Dante just felt like a token character.
The other person who came with Haven was Lance and he is the one out of all the characters in this story that had the most substance. Even more than the main character herself…AND IT WAS HER STORY. I found that the scenes that I enjoyed most were the ones that involved him. Lance was the only character that seemed to have any smarts or personality and I think that it was partly because of him that I managed to finish this book. Aurelia was very wooden and never really felt evil and Lucian…well…he barely registered much to me either.
In some ways I am amazed that I finished this one all the way to the end and yet there was something about the writing that kept me interested. Illuminate for all of its flaws was a very readable book. The pages flew by…and I only really paused to vent about some of the characters actions/question motives and to exclaim about the overuse of the word “WOW.” Seriously…the mere site of it began to make my eye twitch by the end of this story. It was the exclamation of choice for good and bad things that happened to every character. I also did not like how each chapter had a title that pulled directly from the text of that chapter. The chapters in Illuninate aren’t very long so that small little snippet would often serve as a spoiler of what was to come and so ruined any suspense that had been starting to build.
Overall, for me, Illuminate, is a book with a pretty cover and 530 pages of set up for the next book to come. And after reading a 500+ page prologue I am not sure that I have the energy to read what comes next. I just don’t care enough about Haven to want to devote my time to more of her ramblings. But I will wait to reserve judgement until a synopsis is revealed. Because maybe, just maybe, this will be one of those series that changes POV from book to book and if the next book is told from Lance’s POV…then I could be swayed to read it.
People who thought differently than I did:
Writer Musings – “[Illuminate] started out kind of slow and bumpy, not really feeling different from other YA stories out there. But, as the story progressed, my interest level cranked up notch after notch after notch.”
The Hollow Cupboards – “[Agresti] creates an interesting and intimidating world about the battle between good and evil. This book is about friendship, trust, and being true to yourself more than anything. Though lengthy and slower-paced, this story was more than it seems and you may just have to dive in and see for yourself.”
The Bookworms -“Agresti’s Illuminate world is very glam and 20′s reminiscent (which I love), and yet still very realistic to today’s standards. She kept everything together at a slower pace and threw curve balls throughout, which is guaranteed to start your engine and throw you into the mystery of it all.”