Monday, 12 October 2015

Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee

Book: Angelfall
Author: Susan Ee
Published: Skyscape, August 2012
Genre: YA Dystopia/Fantasy
Rating: 3.5/5

Amazon says "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 Penryn will risk everything to rescue her sister, and Raffe will put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again."


Finally! A YA novel with a female lead who has more on her mind than boys! Yayy!
Such a refreshingly welcome and necessary debut novel.

I will disclose now that I have already read the second book World After but I'm going to do my best not to let that cloud my review of this one because, as I feel was the case for most readers, the second book was a significant drop in quality from what was truly a fantastic debut from Susan Ee.

I really enjoyed the idea and premise of the novel - different from the vampires and werewolves that overstayed their welcome a bit but still guaranteed an audience with that market - and Ee's telling of the story was quite striking. Raffe's struggle with his duty as an Archangel is clear and troubling and a little bit beautiful in an equally dark way. Penryn is *finally* the young female protagonist whose love interest really wasn't her main focus. Unwilling to let Raffe (who I really would love to meet) distract her, she is so focussed on her mission to save her sister. 

[I realise I keep suggesting Ee's Penryn is the only strong female lead in YA lit and I'm aware that thats not true. Moira Young's Saba in her Dustlands trilogy (which I will review as I reread in preparation for the final instalment) is one example but after reading so many YA dystopian novels in which the female lead has failed to wow me I have really been beginning to lose hope that it would ever change. That's perhaps a little depressing and over the top but you understand.]

The interactions between Pen and Raffe are for the most part awkward enough to be quite convincing while at other times are maybe a little bit cringey. Their chemistry is actually quite sweet and the ending leaves you hopeful of her future if not a little distressed at how the rest of it turns out.

As always with these sort of books there are a few issues within the imagined world. Only six weeks are supposed to have passed since the angel apocalypse but the world seems to have descended into anarchy and relatively quickly ordered itself. The rebel army especially managed to gather together people, resources and tactics. Pen's schizophrenic mother comes and goes as she becomes convenient and necessary for the story and there's very little explanation of her beyond that. This is unfortunate because to be quite honest I feel Pen's mother could make a really interesting character with her unpredictable and often dangerous nature and I would really have liked more of an exploration of the relationship between Pen and her mother.

Really these are minor gripes that do not detract from the story whatsoever. Overall I think it is a fantastic debut from Ee and I definitely recommend!

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment :)

Naomi Joy x

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