Sunday, February 19, 2012

Illuminate (review)


2/5 stars

For the record I really don't like not liking a book. It's awkward for both of us, kinda like a bad first date (this is implying that I have much more dating experience than I do).  It keeps talking and talking.  I keep searching for something, anything redeemable, that'll make me want to give this book a second chance.

Me and this book just aren't meant to be.

The biggest issue for me is that it just moves so slowly.  Half this book is spent running errands or on training montages.  Maybe other people are more interested in what it's like to be a personal assistant to someone rich and glamorous, but that's not me.  There's life threatening danger, mystery and evil looming.  Instead of action, we get the two main characters delivering chocolate or uploading photos.

Almost everything is revealed by eavesdropping through conveniently placed secret passageways (that the owners somehow don't realize lead right to Haven's room) and almost all the plot is conversationally driven.  500 pages of errands, training montages, eavesdropping leading up to 30 pages of action just doesn't work.

To make matters worse they listen to a bossy book written by a mysterious force (and don't expect to know who that is by the end of the book).  The messages in the book are cryptic, vague, sometimes contradictory, and creepily similar to those weird motivation posters they put up in offices and schools.
You will learn inner strength--to a degree far greater than you have ever known--and physical strength. None of this will be easy; all of it will be necessary
I'm not the type of person to blindly follow a bossy book.  Haven is supposed to be smart, but as it becomes more and more obvious that the hotel is dangerous the stupider she seems to become.  At no point does she ever think "Let's just leave," but just keeps on running errands for her demon-boss even after the book tells her she's probably going to die.

There were some believability issues with Haven for me.  She's supposed to be a tomboy who doesn't care about fashion, but whenever it comes to describing clothes it reads like a magazine.  Turns out the author is actually also a celebrity magazine writer.  I have problems when author's interject their voice into a character when it doesn't make sense.  Logically Haven, head more likely found studying math than in a magazine, shouldn't be able to describe clothes that vividly.

Overall this book just didn't work for me.  I hope other people, maybe those who like magazines or celebrities more, will find this book more appealing.

Thanks to Southern Book Bloggers for letting me participate in this ARC tour.

5 comments:

Mohur said...

I wasn't sure about whether to put this on my "to-read" list.... Now I know!!

Here's a link to my latest "Requested review":
http://b00kr3vi3ws.blogspot.in/2012/02/bridge-of-deaths-by-mcv-egan.html

Andrea @The Bookish Babes said...

Yep. I pretty much feel the same way as you. I actually still have almost 100 pages to read and I'm putting it off as long as possible. How about Lucian? I didn't get that either. I'm going to have a hard time writing my review b/c nothing about the plot stands out as memorable. Well, maybe the massive amounts of errand-running.
Loved your review, especially the comparison to a bad date. Thanks for tweeting me about it!

veela-valoom said...

Mohur: Glad I could help!

Andrea: Lucian seemed skeevy to me. Didn't Haven see him kissing Aurelia on the first day? Then suddenly she's like PRETTY BOY YAY. To me the most endearing of the characters was Lance even in the beginning.

I'll have to check out your review when it's up. Good luck with finishing it. I had to force my way through.

Mandroid said...

I had a really strange reaction to this book because Haven reminded me of myself at 16 - a bookish tomboy who didn't feel comfortable being girly but sort of wished she did (and who always wanted to live/work in a hotel). I think without that personal connection to the narrator, I would have felt very similar to you in reading it. It was a really hefty book for it's plot and I loved Lance from the beginning.

If you're interested in my review, I posted it yesterday here - http://www.workingforthemandroid.com/main/2012/2/21/review-illuminate-by-aimee-agresti.html

veela-valoom said...

I'm glad someone liked this book more than me. I just wanted more plot than it had to offer. And we all bring ourselves into the books we read, thats part of why there are so many book reviewers. We have unique perspectives to offer.