Monday, September 21, 2015

Illuminate by Tracy Clark Review


Since this is my first review of the series, let me go back over the first two books to get you caught up.

In the first book, protagonist Cora Sandoval discovers she can see auras and that her aura is solid silver unlike the many colors of the regular people around her. She also ends up falling for Irish exchange student Finn who randomly leaves after they have a few intense make-out sessions. Anyways, on Cora's journey to discover who she really is and what her special aura means, she travels to Ireland where she delves deep into her roots. She discovers she's Scintilla and thanks to her new friend Giovanni, she's on the road to finding all the answers with his help.

Of course, what is a good story without some bad guys. So these Arazzi guys show up and are actually the kind of people who kill by taking someone's energy/soul into their own creating a solid white aura. Oh, and they desperately want to kill Cora because she's like their natural born enemy.

Now, both of these books kind of ran together in my head, so I can't remember quite when book two picks up, so I'm just going to summarize them all together now.

Cora gets captured by this Arazzi man who happens to be Finn's uncle. And Finn happens to be an Arazzi (Ooh! Drama). Only Finn hates what he is and refuses to accept it. Cora still is doesn't know how she should feel about her first love being her natural born enemy and then there's Giovanni who's like perfect and Scintilla and helping her, but she swears he's hiding something from her. Anyways, Giovanni and Cora get captured by Clancy (Finn's Arazzi Uncle) and it turns out that Clancy has Cora's mother who was presumably dead for the majority of Cora's life. The reunion is short lived as Cora's father shows up to save them and dies so that they can all escape.

There's still so much more to discover about Scintilla in Ireland, so Cora can't just return home like everything is okay. Especially since her father died trying to help her. But luckily, that little secret Giovanni has been keeping is going to help them (supposedly). There's this facility in Dublin that can help them and he knows the doctor running it. They manage to get there and everything is fine and all until it's not.

They lock Cora in one room and Giovanni in the other in hopes that their strong feelings for one another will cause them to hook up and create children so that they can be studied like lab rats. They fake it, sort of, to get the doctor guy off their backs, but Finn walks in and sees it and everything goes down hill from there.

See, Finn was at the facility in time to see that because his "good friend" Lorcan (note the sarcasm there) brought him because Lorcan's mothers Ultanna is working with the doctor. Now, Ultanna is a very interesting lady. She believes she's immortal and is head of this Arazzi organization known as Xepa, which is hellbent on destroying each and every Scintilla. (Cora actually manages to sneak into a Xepa party wearing Ultanna's ring to do so recon).

Anyways, they manage to escape from the facility, leaving a lot of people dea. And literally nothing is okay anymore.

Cora gets kidnapped again, her mother gets kidnapped again, and then Mami Tulke (Cora's grandmother) gets kidnapped by Clancy and he's planning on using them for some kind of sacrifice. Cora's mother dies, but Mami Tulke and her both manage to escape.

Things happen, etcetera etcetera, and here we are. Book three: Illuminate.

This book starts off with a bang. Finn and Cora both kill Arazzi and regular humans working with the Arazzi. But the trouble they are facing is way bigger than an ambush leaving them murderers. Cora must go to Italy, Giovanni must go to Chile to be with his surprise daughter Claire (the offspring of an experiment done at the facility), and Finn must stay in Ireland.

I did not like how these guys were split up for the majority of the book. I get why it needed to happen, though. Real life does not mean they all get to hang out and do research together. Finn had responsibilities in Ireland. Giovanni had to be with his daughter for obvious reasons. And Cora needed to finish this lead. I just wish it hadn't been that way for selfish reader reasons.

Giovanni starts to prepare the Scintilla in Chile who were hiding out on Mami Tulke's ranch, which was like major news and made me really happy, for war with the Arazzi. Now this approach seemed pretty rushed and kind of sat awkward with me. I mean, I probably would have been the same way in a situation like that, but it was just a little odd feeling for Giovanni to hop right on in to battle strategy.

Finn's off in Ireland getting cozy for strategic purposes with Ultanna's daughter, who inherits the throne her mother left behind. Lorcan gets super pissed about that and Soarise is kind of sketchy this entire time. (I would like to say that I pegged her as the bad guy the moment she walked onto the page!) Finn isn't completely helpless towards Cora's cause. He's researching and doing as much as he can to help her using his Arazzi status.

Cora, on the other hand, makes a shocking discovery in Italy that I think we need to discuss. Cora discovers what that key that's been around her neck forever unlocks. And it's a picture of Mary and Jesus. Surrounded in a silver aura. As Scintilla.

First off, this is very dangerous for a writer to do. You don't know how your audience is going to react to taking something religious and powerful like that and messing with it in your writing. But I applaud Tracy Clark for doing it at the same time.

Now I know that many of you probably weren't too happy about this approach because it could be considered slightly blasphemous, but before you bring out the torches, hear what I have to say about it and why I think it was a smart thing for her to do.

Tracy Clark's world is entirely her own. If it were real, the odds are that someone like Jesus would have been Scintilla and there's literally nothing wrong with that. I mean, why wouldn't he be? He brought people back to life, so did Cora. It makes total sense and it would almost be inaccurate for that not to be the case.

Of course, it was kind of strange and it did take me a while to get used to it, being a Catholic myself, but I see where she was coming from and I respect that. It did work for the story as well, I must say. And when the story goes on and talks about the corruptness of the Church, I feel conflicted on that part. There is truth in it. Many churches are corrupted although I think our pope now is doing wonders for the Catholic community. But hey it is what it is and it worked for the story.

The story goes on and everything is sort of weird for a while. Cora enlists the help of some documentary person in return that she expose Scintilla. It reminded me of some book I read, but I couldn't place it. It was a nice road she took it down, however, because it offered more to the story than just going to Chile and saving the world would have. She had someone documenting it the entire time.

But then the Arazzi show up and Cora touches some age old book and suddenly everything is put in perspective. Arazzi and Scintilla are not natural born enemies. They were born to be together. So does this mean Cora chooses Finn? Because I was still stuck in that love triangle. And I guess I still am because what they decide to do doesn't exactly explain anything to me. Other than that they restored balance to the world (I'm talking Arazzi and Scintilla as a whole and not just Cora and Finn).

The Arazzi and Scintilla join themselves to each other by the Scintilla giving themselves to the Arazzi and then they all kind of erupt into light and disappear. It's a beautiful idea. But I'm going to be honest with you, I was left with no closure!

What happened to Claire? Was she really Arazzi because I didn't think so. And what about all those people falling down randomly and not because of Arazzi attacks? And who did Cora choose? Because it didn't feel like she chose Finn for romantic reasons. Please Tracy Clark, answer these questions and I will be able to die in peace!

Overall, it was a good book. I rated it four out of five stars on Goodreads. Deviate is still my favorite installment of the series, especially since it's got the best cover (in my opinion) and I'm really sad to see this series end. Cora was a character I related to and loved. I can't believe it's all over.

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