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.
Look no further for an excellent angel book.
The concept of fallen angels in YA literature has been thoroughly canvassed and even more thoroughly visited and revisited in recent years. As with most contemporary genres, trends will come and trends will go, and the fallen angel trend is going, if popular opinion is to be believed. If you're among those who:
a) have managed not to come across too many fallen angel novels, but wish to do so in the future;
b) enjoy the concept of fallen angels enough to not care whether it's overused;
c) like being a hipster and always going against the grain (so now when we're supposed to scorn fallen angel books, you're determined to enjoy them),
then Angelfall is just the book.
No spoilers ahead.
In the world of endless complaints about slow beginnings, it's impossible not to appreciate how fast-paced Angelfall is from the get-go. With the opening scene being that of a post-apocalyptic San Francisco already marred by endless destruction and chaos, the story follows Penryn and her family's battle for survival in the most literal of ways: the streets are a permanent battleground. And it takes something more than brute strength to survive.
And there's hardly any teenage girl better equipped to survive than Penryn, who has spent the majority of her life caring for her disabled sister and her schizophrenic mother, in-between self-defense lessons and combat training. In many ways, Penryn's struggles have reared their ugly head long before the angels have descended to earth and begun to systematically destroy the world as we know it.
But don't be tempted to consider Penryn a terminal no-nonsense humorless vigilante for her family in their struggle to evade the avenging angels as well as many entirely human street gangs which have cropped up everywhere since the apocalypse. In Penryn, there's a dose of tender familial affection that's only too relatable. Her devotion to her little sister rivals that of Katniss and Prim, and her determination to keep her sister safe is ever-present throughout this book. In fact, the familial affection in the whole of Angelfall is touching, and Susan Ee has managed to conquer prejudice and demonstrate a multitude of ways in which a family can work towards the same goal, even as their heads exist in different realities.
What's also staggering is just how much worldbuilding there is in Angelfall for such a short novel. With there being no room for information dumping in-between action scenes, and with Raffe-the-angel being less than eager about disclosing anything, the amount of worldbuilding almost goes by unnoticed. It is nevertheless there, and nevertheless expertly done. When Penryn's little sister is kidnapped by a group of hostile angels and Penryn is forced to form an uneasy alliance with a fallen angel in order to get her sister back, we are plunged into the real essence of the story.
Penryn and Raffe. A girl in search of her sister, and an angel in search of his wings. The Penryn/Raffe dynamic is arguably the most interesting aspect of the book. Their snarky, humorous banter never fails to produce a laugh and lighten the mood. And so, in a dark world, in the midst of an apocalypse, where there is hardly any humor to be had - some humor is to be had! In fact, it's difficult to decide if it's Raffe or his sword that took away the title of the sassiest character in the book. (That sword is sassy, y'all!) With such classics as "You are just a bird with an attitude" and "Your giant head is getting too big for this forest. Pretty soon, you're going to get stuck trying to walk between two tress", Penryn and Raffe lighten the mood of an doubtlessly dark and foreboding series. The light and the dark are well balanced, not only where the forces of dark and light are concerned, but also where the atmosphere of the novel comes into play.
Also, Raffe is sexy. Which may have no merit with some readers, but it has quite a bit of merit with us. (And apparently with Raffe himself. Not to mention Penryn.)
And so Angelfall weaves the story of a tentative alliance between two characters from the opposite sides of the on-going war: an angel who has come to earth to destroy it, and a girl who is determined to save her sister, and potentially go about helping save the world entire once her sister is back by her side. And while such an alliance is likely to be a source of endless friction, and of endless conflict within the reader, Susan Ee's characters are both so likable and so relatable that the reader doesn't feel compelled to make a choice. Sure, we're not sure what Raffe's motives are, and we're not sure if Penryn's sister is still alive when the events of the book begin to unfold... but we're happily rooting for them both.
Also, for Raffe's sword. She's sassy.
GOODREADS: ANGELFALL (PENRYN AND THE END OF DAYS #1)
BOOK REVIEW: ANGELFALL BY SUSAN EE
4/ 5Oleh The Honest Bookclub