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.
*Blurb taken from Goodreads*
E: Being a member of The Book Pushers can be dangerous, not as in physically dangerous unless you count running into something because you are reading, but wallet, bookshelf space dangerous. One of my fellow bookpushers *cough*Has*cough* started raving over this gritty YA claiming that it wasn’t too emo-ish, had a great storyline…you name it she said it. So being of strong (weak) mind I accepted her recommendation that we should review ANGELFALL together. Lets just say that my plan to go to sleep at a decent hour the night I started the book was completely ruined. I stayed up until I finished it and as a result sleep-walked thru work the next day. Everything that Has said about it was true.
Has: LOL. I was intrigued with the surrounding buzz this book had on Goodreads and on Amazon, so one day when I needed a read I decided to check it out and boy was I glad. I also had the late night must finish this book syndrome and felt like a zombie the following day, but this is a book that really grabs you and refuses to let you go because it was such an intense, dark and gritty read as well as truly memorable.
E: I will admit I had a few bad moments when I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to finish the book because Ms Ee had done such a good job sucking me in, so when Penryn’s sister was kidnapped it was like I was experiencing that loss myself. I have a soft spot for children so I was in bed gripping my electronic reading device so tightly I am surprised I didn’t find dents in it the next day. The rational/logical adult in me says that what Penryn was willing to do to Raffe in order to find her sister wasn’t right and would never happen, but the emotional side of me, the part sucked into the story was wincing at what Penryn was feeling but also knowing that I would do whatever it took to rescue any of my siblings regardless of the personal cost.
Has: That was a heartwrenching scene and especially since Penryn’s sister’s disability makes her even more vulnerable. But Penryn’s determination to get her sister back was beautifully written and there is a scene where Raffe confronts her for moping that she left her sister’s wheelchair behind because she was unable to travel in the woods with it really packs a punch.
“Does moping actually help humans feel better?” We’ve been whispering since we saw the victims on the road.
“I’m not moping,” I whisper back.
“Of course you’re not. A girl like you, spending time with a warrior demigod like me. What’s to mope about? Leaving a wheelchair behind couldn’t possibly show up on the radar compared to that.”
I nearly stumble over a fallen branch. “You have got to be kidding me.”
“I never kid about my warrior demigod status.”
“Oh. My. God.” I lower my voice, having forgotten to whisper, “You are nothing but a bird with an attitude. Okay, so you have a few muscles, I’ll grant you that. But you know, a bird is nothing but a barely evolved lizard. That’s what you are.”
He chuckles. “Evolution.” He leans over as if telling me a secret. “I’ll have you know that I’ve been this perfect since the beginning of time.” He is so close that his breath caressed my ear.
This scene also illustrates that despite their differences and initial tense confrontation — especially since Penryn manages to get the upper hand on Raffe earlier (another fantastic scene) – they start to bond more. I also loved despite their antagonism, their exchanges are funny and really adds to the growing romantic tension between them. And I loved how they each supported each other which was organic and real — even though they were so different.
E: I think the turning point in their relationship is when Raffe realizes that Penryn will never just abandon him, even if that means she risks her life. Raffe has been betrayed but his fellow angels and has an extremely hard time trusting anyone. The fact that this young human he could kill refuses to leave him along despite the odds took a while to sink in. When it finally did, Raffe still didn’t know how to express what that meant or how he felt about Penryn, since after all it is an unforgivable sin for angels and humans to have carnal knowledge of each other. Watching him struggle with the loss of his wings and his feelings helped humanize his character.
Has: I agree, and the growing bond that cements their relationship was one of the best highlights of the book. Penryn’s determination on not giving up on finding her sister and even caring and looking out for her mentally and scary unstable mother really reflects that. I also liked how the romantic aspect didn’t overpower the story or the plot which is a huge pitfall for a lot of other books in the same genre.
I also think Raffe’s struggles with the loss of his wings definitely helped him relate to humans, and I think the twist we saw at the end will be an interesting element because he has to accustom himself for being something that he abhors, as well as coping as an outcast. Which like Penryn’s mother, who I found to be really scary and unsettling at times. I loved how Susan Ee went in a very dark and scary direction, and that even if this was an adult book, I would find it pretty horrific. But I loved the darkness and the grittiness because this is a world where society has fallen and biblical monsters emerge, and it has to be scary and stark and the world was believable and I think this’s why it was so chilling.
E: Given the extremely antagonistic relationship between Penryn and Raffe as they first meet each other I am very glad they never reached the lovers part of a romantic relationship. They were actually still working their way towards friendship at the end of the book leaving a lot more growth available for successive novels.
This is certainly not a book for the average pre-teen crowd but it does deal with coming of age, family bonds, loyalty, and how uncertain your world is as you transition from child to adult. Given the unstable hormones and the need to figure out who you are sometimes it can seem as if the world you knew had been destroyed. Ms Ee did a great job giving life to those nebulous fears that are used as threats and also taking that are supposed to be on the side of good yet cause death, destruction and anarchy. I hope she is able to continue to write this series.
I give Angelfall an A.
Has: I can’t say enough good things about this book and I am glad you loved the book as much me because it has definitely topped my top ten this year, and is a standout debut. The world-building was multi-layered and the plot twisted into expected turns. But the real high point was the characters — and how I adored those characters! Penryn’s scrappy determination to survive and to keep her family safe, and Raffe’s newfound humanity and subsequent vulnerability really makes this book a joy to read. Despite the fact that this is a dark, dark book with elements of strong horror, there is humour and at times a light tone which helps to balance out the grim tone. Overall this is a book that for me is definition of what a dystopian setting should be. Unlike other books which never really capture that dark tone or if they do its so depressing and stark that it never really engages the reader, Angelfall avoids these pitfalls.
I highly recommend this book, because I can guarantee you will get sucked into a dark and terrifying world but rewarding journey.
I also give Angelfall an A