Author: Susan Ee
Series: Penryn & the End of Days Series
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Publish Date: May 23rd, 2013
Genres: Adventure, Dystopian, Young Adult
It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.
Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.
Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.
Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.
With a fast-paced plot, realistic characters, and perfect (yet heart-wrenching) romance, Angelfall easily surpassed Obsidian as my favorite read of 2015 (to date). I experienced a roller coaster of emotions while reading, jumping quickly from shock to anger to sympathy. And most importantly, my tattered heart is lying in pieces on the floor beside me.
Angelfall jumps headfirst into action, and the fast-paced, heart-racing pace doesn’t slow until the final page. You are immediately sucked in from the very first page, and it’s nearly impossible to set down. As an extremely impatient individual with no tolerance for prolonged suspense, I finished the book in approximately 24 hours, which I would not recommend, particularly to those who don’t function well when sleep deprived – you’ve been warned. Amidst all of the action, you don’t notice the climax until it’s staring you in the face, taking the book for an entirely unexpected turn. Needless to say, the novel was extremely well-written, and Ee’s writing flows smoothly, entrancing her audience and compelling them to continue reading.
The post-apocalyptic setting was eerily well-crafted, instilling readers with a newfound sense of anxiety and anticipation because it strikes so close to home. It also allowed me to come to the realization that I likely won’t survive for any extended period of time in the event of an angel invasion. On that happy note, the inclusion of angels as a negative force, at least from the perspective of the humans, was an interesting and equally frightening twist. What they were lacking in majesty they certainly made up for in ferocity.
While Penryn herself was no angel (pun intended), she was an excellent kick-ass heroine, which appears to be a dying concept in modern literature. She simultaneously displays an interesting blend of courage, loyalty, and vulnerability, serving as a complex and well-crafted character with her fair share of flaws. I found myself constantly rooting for her, crossing my fingers that she would make it out of each predicament in one piece.
Raffe was an equally intriguing and engaging character, and he is solely responsible for tearing my heart out and ripping it into teeny, tiny pieces. With his mysterious past and obscure abilities, such as superhuman hearing and strength, he serves as an integral survival factor throughout the book, savings own life and Penryn’s on multiple occasions. He doesn’t allow his wounded pride to slow him down, rebounding with an equally large head and a chilling, unnatural confidence. And I could feel myself slowly falling in love with him, despite his shortcomings and lack of wings. Which simply served to make the ending that much more painful.
The romance was so beautiful it almost reduced me to tears. Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I could barely contain my excitement when I realized that there was no obnoxious insta-love ready to rear up and destroy the perfect relationship and fairy-tale ending that I had envisioned for Penryn and Raffe. Even more surprising is that a relationship could develop between a human and an angel, two warring species that generally didn’t get along very well. Most importantly, Penryn and Raffe have numerous disagreements, but their relationship manages to survive each and every one, proving that it is predicated upon true love rather than superficial emotions and attractions. I loved the slow, subtle development of their relationship, which didn’t detract form the plot and instead tended to take a backseat, making an appearance at opportune moments.
Luckily, there was a good deal of comic relief in the form of witty dialogue and interactions between the characters, particularly Penryn and Raffe. I loved their flirtatious banter – after all, what better way to pass the time while trekking hundreds of miles across the wilderness?
“You are nothing but a bird with an attitude. Okay, so you have a few muscles, I’ll grant you that. But you know, a bird is nothing but a barely evolved lizard. That’s what you are.”
The ending in and of itself was beautiful yet painful, leaving me utterly distraught and tormented when it did not unfold according to plan. Then again, what would be the fun in a boring, predictable plot? I would classify the conclusion as both my favorite and least favorite scene in the novel due to my series of conflicted emotions. For fear of giving away any spoilers, I’ll curtail my discussion there.
All in all, Angelfall left quite a few questions unanswered, even after that dramatic ending. I’m hopeful that they will be addressed in later books, along with further development of certain characters, such as Raffe. I immediately fell in love with Angelfall, which certainly set the bar high for the next book in the series. If you have yet to give it a try, I would definitely recommend it, even if you aren’t a fan of angel or post-apocalyptic novels – you may find yourself very surprised!