I’m not a big fan of angel books. I’ve read a few and, to be honest, the “angels” didn’t seem that “angel-like.” Angels aren’t human. Angels are terrifying beings that have the ability to turn you into salt, they aren’t “Edward with wings” who want to make out with cute teenagers, so when the buzz for Susan Ee’s self-published Angelfall started I wasn’t that interested in checking it out. Angels. Self-published. Ehh…except the buzz didn’t stop and reviewers I really respect were raving about how amazing the story was and how fantastic it read. When it was offered for $.99 on Amazon, I went ahead and purchased it. Turns out it was the best $.99 I have ever spent.
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.
-description taken from Goodreads
Readers are thrown right into the nightmare of Penryn’s new reality. The angels have laid waste to the planet and all she cares about is keeping her family, paraplegic seven-year-old sister Paige and her schizophrenic mother, safe. Ee does a phenomenal job of showing readers just how alone Penryn is in life and how she is capable of handling this burden through action instead of words. There are several scenes that had me cringing in their brutality, but they fit and added to the intensity of the story instead of detracting from it. The pacing throughout the entire book is just spot on. This stellar plot’s layers unfold in front of you and you will not be able to put this book down. You will lose sleep having to know what happens next.
Penryn is a fantastic character to build a story around. She’s got some damage and issues, but she’s also made of tough stuff and is fiercely loyal to her family. Penryn does the right thing, even when it’s exceedingly dangerous and maybe not the smarting thing to do. You can’t not love that about her. In fact, she has moved to the top of my favorite YA heroines list with Tris and Tessa Gray.
Raffe. There is a lot I want to say about the angel Penryn teams up with, but the most important one is that he doesn’t act like he’s human. He isn’t unaware of human ways and he can blend in, but he never loses that air of natural superiority that a being of God would have. Yes, he’s hot. Yes, he appears without his shirt. Both good things, but he has an aloofness about him that never lets the relationship between he and Penryn slip into a YA cliché. He also has a heck of a secret. I want to tell you all the things, but you just have find out for yourself.
The supporting characters of humans and angels add to a great foundation created by the dynamic duo of Penryn and Raffe. Ee throws in some twists that were wholly unexpected and right out of someone’s nightmares. There is also a lot of foreshadowing that has me worried about what is to come, so pay attention when you read. Ee isn’t just putting things in randomly. She’s got a plan and since this is the first book in what is reported to be a five book series, there are some definite open threads to the storyline when the book ends. Thankfully there is a completed story arc and we aren’t left hanging off a cliff by our fingernails. That isn’t to say that I don’t want the next book immediately, because I most certainly do. It’s supposed to come out in the summer. Summer never felt so far away!