Jennifer's Reviews > Angelfall

Angelfall by Susan Ee
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Jan 03, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: angels-and-demons, dystopia, kindle, read-in-1-sitting, 2012-favorites
Read from January 02 to 03, 2012

This book for me was un-put-downable! I didn’t mean to stay up until 2am reading it, but every time I reached a chapter end or other natural stopping place, I just had to find out what was going to happen next. I haven’t read a book this immediately compelling in a while. Many thanks to the Goodreads community for pimping this book to me so I could have that totally enjoyable reading experience!

The book is about a young woman, Penryn, caring for her paranoid schizophrenic mother and 7-year old paraplegic sister, in the wake of the apocalypse. In this case, the apocalypse was caused by angels who descended from Heaven to wreak havoc and destroy all the major cities, for no apparent reason. We are dropped into this post-apocalypse setting just as Penryn and her mother and sister are making a break from their broken-down condominium to try to run for the wilderness outside their town (Silicon Valley, CA). Only a little background is provided about the apocalypse and conditions after it. One gets the impression that Penryn herself doesn’t know very much about what happened or why, either. During their escape attempt, an angel falls from the sky and is pursued by other angels… with ominous and gruesome results.

Without giving away much of the plot (and I think the blurb gives away at least this much), Penryn and this mysterious angel who fell from the sky must work together to achieve a common goal. Well, we know what Penryn’s goal is. We don’t know much about Raffe, the angel, including his intentions, his past, or what he’s capable of. They undertake a journey together and along the way discover more about this angel-induced apocalypse, along with the reader. And they have some truly awesome interactions, with each other and with the world they encounter. I did enjoy these characters. Penryn is smart, funny, conflicted, and luckily for her and for the plot, a highly trained fighter. I enjoyed her reflections on the world, particularly pertaining to her crazy mother. I gained respect for her survival skills as she demonstrates that her life was all about just surviving every day, even before the apocalypse occured. Raffe is quiet and capable but emerges with quite a fun sense of humor and a strong protective streak. As characters go, Penryn is differentiated by her narrative voice and the thoughts we are privy to, which draw a great picture of this capable young woman. Raffe’s characterization relies more on his history, and plays on the reader’s own knowledge of biblical and angelic mythology, the more we learn of him later in the book. This is not a complaint, I enjoyed both characters a lot; it’s just a fact that one is more of a character than the other.

The storytelling and pacing here was great. When we are getting the know the characters, they are pretty isolated. Later after we have a good feel for them, we get more info on the world they live in and the angel mythologies Susan Ee has created for this book. And boy, those are pretty original. I have read angel-based paranormal fiction before so I was naturally on the lookout for anything derivative. Nalini Singh does a great job of portraying the otherworldly terribleness of angels (even if I have other complaints about her books). This didn’t feel like that. Meljean Brook has built a tremendously detailed history and mythology around angels and demons in her Guardians series – this also doesn’t feel like that. My mind appreciates those kind of backstories and so I did feel a lack of such a one in this book (my mind kept trying to supply details from Brook’s series to go with this world, which I kept having to remind myself weren’t relevant). In this book, Angelfall, you just can’t create a fully formed opinion about who or what the angels are, or what is going on with them, yet. There are a lot of atmospherics and dark horror show violence associated to the angels. Contrasted to that, you also have Raffe’s quiet pride, violent strength, and beauty. Clearly there is more to come about what happened and what will happen. So I am not complaining about the lack of backstory… I think that will be part of the reveal that Ee is saving for a later book in this series (which apparently has 5 parts).

I probably should mention that there are some seriously dark and twisted things in this book. There is some crazy, horrible experimentation that we only begin to learn about at the end of the book. There is mysterious cannibalism, what appear to be zombies, there are monsters and sometimes the monsters win. I was OK with this because Penryn’s voice was grounded in the best kind of way to me throughout her encounters with them – her knuckle-down-and-just-survive attitude carried me through. Had she gotten hysterical or defeated about it, I probably couldn’t have handled it. Some bad things happen to children. I have children so that kind of thing is not the easiest for me to read, but I still have given this book 5 stars. So there, you’ve been warned…

All in all I completely recommend this book. I especially recommend it because Susan Ee has only self-published this as an e-book, and I want everyone to go out and buy it, so she keeps writing the story! As with all great first books in series, I can only desperately hope the remaining books live up to the promise this one shows!
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Reading Progress

01/02/2012
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