by Susan Ee
Publisher: Feral Dream
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
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.
(synopsis from Goodreads)
Whew! Well, that was a wild ride. I'm actually kind of exhausted.
I'd read some mixed reviews about this one, so I wasn't sure quite what to expect. I read the book in two sittings, which suggests that I was really into it. Though I did have a somewhat amusing, vacillating series of reactions to the whole thing, swinging from, "Holy crap, that was stupid!" to "Must keep reading!"
The strength of Angelfall is definitely its plot. Plenty of stuff happens, and the author manages to combine Bibilical mythology with dystopian worldbuilding and a sweet story about the power of sisterly love into a cohesive whole that keeps the pace humming along nicely. However (and it's a pretty big "however"), the book does have its weaknesses, too... and unfortunately, those weaknesses are the characters and the writing.
I feel like we were hit over the head by an awful lot of telling. We didn't need to be repeatedly told how unbelievably beautiful and sexy Raffe was. (I mean, it was downright eye-roll inducing at times.) We didn't need to be told that Penryn and Paige's mother is crazy. We didn't need to be told that a wheelchair-bound seven-year-old girl needs rescuing from her kidnappers. We're told so many things by Penryn, and it becomes redundant because we can already see these things by the way the characters are described and how they behave. It brought the writing down a bit, and made it seem more juvenile than it needed to be. I also had a problem with some of the characters. They were not as strong as they could have been. Penryn was kind of blank, and I still feel like I don't know what kind of person she was... even though the story was told from her first-person point of view. Raffe was, at times, teasing and flirty, but then he'd lapse into being broody and tight-lipped, and there didn't always seem to be a reason for his mood swings. I think the character that irked me the most, however, was Penryn and Paige's mother. She suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, and she just didn't make a lot of sense in the context of the story. It's hinted at early on that she may have been responsible for Paige's accident. I spent much of the rest of the book wondering why, if this was suspected, social services didn't get involved... especially after the girls' father up and left the family! The mother was also portrayed as not just schizophrenic, but a bona fide psychopath... and Penryn's comments about her seemed a bit disrespectful. It's one of those portrayals that mental illness advocates are sure to hate, because it does sufferers of these types of diseases no favours and only serves to increase fear and judgment.
All that said, however, I couldn't put this book down. Yes, I was rolling my eyes in parts... but I breathlessly read the last third of the book with my heart pounding. Not every book elicits that sort of reaction from me. And while I don't think it was the best thing ever written, it's one of those books that's weirdly addictive, and I'll be on the lookout for World After in November.
Overall: 3.57 out of 5