I debated whether or not to add a recommendation for this novel—I won't say review because I like commenting on books that I want to encourag2.5 stars
I debated whether or not to add a recommendation for this novel—I won't say review because I like commenting on books that I want to encourage others to read. I did have issues with this book, but I felt that the events towards the end worked well enough in bringing me round to the characters and the story that I thought, yes, I should write something for this.
So here we go.
I absolutely loved the premise for Angelfall, I'm a fan of angels who aren't... very "angelic", or! Who actually are angelic, in the sense that they embody the darker side of the winged "messengers" (hence my fascination with Supernatural's take on them!) I also liked that in this book, they weren't anyone's saviour. In this world that Ee has portrayed, there are no saviours and there's no one looking out for you and yours, apart from yourself.
However, I felt very frustrated at the beginning simply because I wasn't connecting with the main character Penryn. I found this difficult to understand because there were several qualities in her that would have ensured I was a gonner for her. She wasn't conceited, she did what needed to be done, and most of all, something that always wins me over, she absolutely loves her sister and would do anything for her. What is there not to like about this? From my point of view, nothing. But, the fact remains that for over half the book, I just couldn't connect. Now, I have to say, that reading through reviews, this doesn't seem to be an issue with other readers, so I'd say, don't let this deter you from picking up the book. You might find that you connect easily with the character where I didn't.
My other issue was again, that at the beginning the book, I also had a hard time settling into the world Ee had built for us. I felt it took me too long to get a feel for it. Yes, I knew where I was, I knew what was happening and it was horrible. But I couldn't feel it, no panic or major fear for the characters or the hopelessness and worry in this depressing and seriously awful place! I felt this way right into 50% of the book and it had me wavering.
There was excitement when the angel and love interest Raffe enters, but again, this faded for me after a bit of time in his presence. This is what cost the book so many stars on goodreads for me. I felt that the author could've done a lot more to immerse me in the world from the beginning. For instance—I'm a very visual reader and I don't think there was enough showing for me. But I want to stress that this is my personal opinion, and again, other readers clearly don't feel this way and loved the world building from the get go!
That said, I don't want to dwell on the negatives for me. I kept on reading and whereas the beginning was lacking for me, I think the book definitely picked up in the second half as Penryn and Raffe got nearer to their goal.
Oh! And a major positive, I absolutely loved the complexity of Penryn's relationship with her mother as well as the character of her mother itself. Extremely interesting and grabbing! I loved the duality of her mother's nature, due to her schizophrenia—I thought the peek into their past and her sister's accident was excellent especially as it set me on edge and I thought was full of atmosphere!
Penryn's reunion with her sister wasn't what I was expecting—in a very good way. The nature of their reunion was definitely horrifying for me, because in that moment, I was able to fully relate to Penryn as an older sister to older sister and I felt her horror.
The book ends in a way that leaves the path open for the sequel. I liked the state of Penryn's and Raffe's relationship at the end of the book. The author hasn't rushed anything and there will be major issues as I'm pretty sure the affection they hold for each other in this book will cause them even more problems—especially because of the deep hatred humans have developed for the angels who have torn their world apart. On Raffe's side, the hierarchy and politics of the angels (which was quite interesting, actually) will no doubt cause him even more trouble in the following book.
Have I mentioned I absolutely loved his snowy wings?
Well. This probably made no sense what so ever. But, in short—this book had two issues for me:
1. Took me too long to connect to the character 2. I had no sense of place in the beginning of the book despite knowing very well what type of world I was in
They were only two issues, but they frustrated me and occurred often enough for me to consider just putting the book down and moving onto another several times. But, the last third of the book was a major improvement and caught my interest. It made me curious about what will happen to the characters in the next instalment.
Either way, if you decide to give this book a go, I hope you enjoy it!
What do I like about this? The vampires are not sexy, they are wrong and creepy and you wouldn't want to beLook at that cover. It's just so gorgeous.
What do I like about this? The vampires are not sexy, they are wrong and creepy and you wouldn't want to be caught dead, near one of them. Okay so that's not the only thing.
I loved how McKinley worked this! She never lets the main character or the reader, forget that the vampire is not like you, but instead something alien and not right. The tension and the doom of the situation is brilliant! When Sunshine finds herself chained to a wall and within reach of a deliberately starved vampire. The horror of the situation is there, but it's subtle, McKinley does this wonderfully and as a reader you find yourself, like Sunshine, both fascinated and repelled by Constantine as well.
Constantine! God, Constantine is just brilliant. There's an old-worldliness to him that brings to mind old fashioned vampire stories, not only in the way he behaves but in the horror that those stories attempted to incite. He is abnormal in every way and the reactions he provokes in Sunshine are more of a fight-or-flight type. It adds this edge to their already shaky, tentative partnership relationship that is just so refreshing. This felt like a breath of fresh air to me!
Sunshine too as the lead female in this novel has her own code of honour. She knows when to ditch a situation to save her own skin and even though she'd rather she didn't see things differently, she's not blind to what goes on around her. She's also very hard working. She has to wake up at insane hours of the morning to get to her job (she's a baker) and is content with her simple life, but she's not without her own problems. She makes the reader want to commit to the story for her.
I'm rambling aren't I?
I liked the pacing. Sunshine's voice was fantastic. The world building was perfect for me, so interesting this post-war post-apocalyptic—you're never quite entirely sure how it came to be as it is but that's not something that bothers you, I like the cryptic touch it brought into the story. I liked the glimpses we got of the dictatorial organisation working behind the scenes and all the different supernatural races that were just out of sight. This is a story that feels immediate and you feel that you already know all that you need to know.
Robin McKinley did an amazing job of making me feel every bit of the intense journey both Sunshine and Constantine go through. But I have to say that what I loved most were the touches of domesticity in such an unnatural situation, it left gorgeous little images in my head. For instance, the scene where Sunshine wants to feed Constantine at all costs even if it's just orange juice, there's a quiet humour in it despite the seriousness of their situation. It's a nice touch. And there are more of these scenes throughout the novel, simple, beautiful scenes will just stay with you for a while to come.
Refreshing. This was such a refreshing read for me. I loved every minute of it. Go read it!