- Angel Fall
- Susan Ee
- Released May 21st 2011
- Book 1 of Penryn and the End of Days series
- 5 stars
When Angels first descended on the 21st century, people thought it was temporary. Six weeks later, it is an all out battle for survival. Penryn would do anything to protect her little sister Paige, and when Paige is kidnapped by warrior angels, Penryn makes a deal with an injured angel, Raffe: his help with her sister for her help with his wings. 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.
I love it when a book is engaging and eventful in less than 300 pages, especially when I’ve recently read a couple 500+ page behemoths in a row. Angelfall does that captivating me with the post apocalyptic world and lovely relationships between the unlikeliest – at least by World Before standards – of acquaintances. I’ve been meaning to read this book for so long but I couldn’t find an audiobook and didn’t want to read the ebook (reading the first book in a series online does not end well for me), but boy am I glad I did.
So I kind of have a soft spot for angel books because I mean c’mon, angels (and because my first YA PNR was angel based but never mind that)! They’re not like vampires and werewolves who are stereotyped into violent sometimes sadistic creatures; no angels are pure, powerful, and, well, angelic. The angels in this book are anything but. Powerful perhaps, angelic when they want to be, but definitely not pure. No these angels are a violent flippant bunch and really that’s what marks much of this book: the violence that this angel wrought apocalypse has forced into the world.
Our heroine, Penryn, is – in her own words – “named after an exit off Interstate-80” (I looked it up and hilariously enough, it’s true). She’s tough and focused yet not an emotionless machine like other dystopian protagonists. She cries, she despairs, and she snarks (can that be a verb?) which totally made my day. Penryn has been taking care of her partially paralyzed sister, Paige, for a long time because her mother is not always the best mother and as you can imagine, that gets rather difficult during the apocalypse. So when Paige is kidnapped by the angels, Penryn grits her teeth and teams up with an injured angel hoping that he can lead her to her sister.
This angel is Raffe who had his wings cut off and is looking for a doctor to sew them back on. He and Penryn treat each other as business partners at first – a means to the end – but as the book progresses, they fall into a rhythm with each other and their banter just makes my day. They’re both witty and arrogant to some degree (though not so much that they’re unlikeable) and yes there is romance, but it’s only an inkling (though I want more!) and definitely not love at first sight, especially because angels are forbidden from fraternizing with humans.
On the way to find the angel base, Penryn and Raffe stumble through gangs, resistance groups, and creepy monsters which makes for one action packed scene after another. We get to learn about angel politics and mythology which just reiterates the fact that they are not fluffy white winged saviors of humanity. Despite there being angels who are vicious and frighteningly strong, the most terrifying character in the book may be Penryn’s mother, a mentally ill, super paranoid, and fearless person. She’s also hilarious and wherever she goes, she manages to intimidate people into not attacking her and somehow manages to stay alive all on her own, seriously overturning the helpless mentally ill person stereotype!
Angelfall is unrelentingly fast but manages to sneak meaningful character interactions in every nook and cranny. There’s never a dull moment and I’m so engrossed in the world that I’ve already started the second book.