Monday, 19 November 2012

Review: Angelfall

Author: Susan Ee
Plot Summary:

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.
This isn't a mystery review: FIVE FREAKIN' STARS, MAN.
To start off, the premise is smart enough in itself. Ee takes two of possibly the most popular subgenres in young-adult lit right now and mixes them together - angels and dystopian (or I suppose more accurately, post-apocalyptic). Now, I'll be honest, my experience with those two subgenres haven't been great. I'm sick to death of angel romances, bastardizing the mythology as badly as writers have been doing with vampires lately, using the paranormal aspect as basically a veil to create tension between the fragile human girl and the "dangerous boy" without any intention of creating a plot. All "romance" no "paranormal," if you will. Most of the dystopias lately also kind of suck too, basically only in existence due to The Hunger Games frenzy. And there are STILL awful romances in them (sappy romance has NO PLACE in a post-apocalyptic scene, people!). I only picked this up because of the rave views.
And I am so glad I did.
Ee not only restores angels back to their original hell-raising glory, but she creates an entirely new spin on them. There are things in this book that are gruesomely imaginative (I don't want to give away any spoilers, but the angels do far more than burn down villages in this book - the torture is in some ways even worse psychologically). The world Ee created - the creatures, the angels' politics - is entirely her own, with complexities that fit within the realms of angel lore. I read somewhere once that angel books are basically Bible fanfiction, and there needs to be a certain amount of respect there. It made me laugh, but it's so true! And Ee does this, balancing traditional mythology with her own imagination perfectly.
Since the world is realistic (well, in a fantasy setting), it made me feel all the more for the characters. Penryn is - simply put - a cup full of awesome badassery. She's one of the best heroines I've ever had the pleasure of reading about - she's smart, she's occasionally funny, she's brave, but more importantly, she's loyal to her family. Family is so underrated in teen books, so I loved how it guided the plot for a change. Penryn gets how bad things actually are - she has her priorities straight. Survival comes first, always. She gets stuff done.
Raffe's pretty cool too - he's got his own problems he needs to deal with, and the two of them make an excellent team. I loved the snark and the slow build-up to trusting each other. I can see a romance developing which (despite my earlier rant on romances) I have no problems with!
But what really got me was the action. This book grabs you right away (you know those books that take 70 pages to get the ball rolling? This isn't one of them) and never lets you go. Shit is always about to hit the fan (or hitting it) which makes it unputdownable - you always need to know what happens next.
If I could make one complaint, it would be that I wish a few things had been answered. This book raises a lot of questions, but doesn't really answer any. (LOST deja vu anyone?) But, it is the first in a series, so that is to be expected on some level.
Highly, highly recommend this one! This book both creeped me out and excited me days after I had finished it. Read it before the movie comes out - yes, that is happening!


  1. I just finished this book myself and felt the same way! I borrowed it from Amazon Prime without really knowing what it is and WHAT A BOOK! It's nice to have book that is attention grabbing from the very first page! I can't for the second book! (And am so excited to learn it's being made into a movie-can't wait to see how they do the Angels and 'creatures')

    1. Yeah, I didn't even think of the creatures! That'll be so damn creepy to see ....