Apparently I've been living under a rock in a deserted post-apocalyptic landscape, because it took me a while to hear about Susan Ee's Angelfall. StraApparently I've been living under a rock in a deserted post-apocalyptic landscape, because it took me a while to hear about Susan Ee's Angelfall. Strange, because I feel like I've read basically every YA paranormal/urban fantasy/insert-your-favorite-similar-descriptor-here that's been released in the last five years. After I heard about Angelfall, my rather emphatic prejudice against self-published books lead me to resist reading it for a month.
Eventually, though, I found myself looking for something new to read, and figured it was worth the two bucks to try Angelfall. It helped that I recognized her name from one of the recent Clarion West classes. And I must admit, I am very glad I gave Angelfall a chance.
(***WARNING: Negative comments about self-published books ahead. If they're likely to offend you, please skip them or keep your responses/arguments civil.***)
I started Angelfall prepared for the onslaught of bad writing, nonexistent editing, horrible formatting, and sketchy storyline planning that in my experience typifies the self-published book. Before I'm beaten to a bloody pulp for that statement, let me acknowledge that I have read a handful of decent to excellent self-published books, with Angelfall having been one of them. However, the vast majority have been along the lines of, say, Amanda Hocking's mind-polluting dreck: rife with basic grammatical errors (i.e. "Your a good person! Its not you're fault!") and world-building holes big enough to comfortably encompass the population of Ohio.
In Angelfall, I found few of those problems. I would have liked a bit more information about how exactly the current world was decimated (Was it just the angels decimating Earth? I seem to recall references to meteor showers and earthquakes - were those natural or did the angels provoke them?), but I enjoyed the landscape Ee built. The story itself was smart, horrifying, taut, and even disgusting (Penryn using the corpse at the front of the office building as a first line of defense was foully perfect, and her little sister's transformation gave me shivers) in just the right ways. I was extremely impressed by the maturity and control Ee demonstrated in her writing. She's not yet the equal of Kristin Cashore or Laini Taylor, but her work certainly outclasses that of many current YA writers in the stables of the Big Six publishing houses (I'm looking your way, Becca Fitzpatrick, Lauren Kate, and Stephanie Meyer).
I was also very glad to see that Ee created some characters who were disabled (both physically and mentally). I cannot express how rare that is in YA books, other than in YA books about Deep Serious Issues. I just wish the younger sister had been less of a plot device (Oh, I must rescue my poor sweet little wheelchair-bound sister!) and more of a real person. However, that's a common failing among authors when it comes to portraying the physically disabled, especially children. I'll give her props for a good effort, particularly when it came to the mother's schizophrenia and the bits of credence given to her mindset by the post-apocalyptic twisting of reality and fantasy.
I'm eager to learn where the story goes from here. Susan Ee, I'm officially a fan.