on July 11, 2011
Its 4:30 in the morning as I write this, and I have just finished reading Angelfall. I started reading it this evening, thinking it would be just another YA novel -- good, but typical of the recently popular genre. I ended up enjoying it SO much I finished it in one sitting, and I had to immediately write up the review.
There have been several popular supernatural themes popping up over the last several years, from vampires and werewolves to faeries, witches and angels. I have personally not been a fan of the angel theme so far -- although it seems to be increasing in its popularity. However, if they begin being as good as this one, they might win me over.
Angelfall begins in a post-apocalyptic time -- think along the lines of McCarthy's 'The Road,' or The Book of Eli -- after an "armageddon" initiated by angels. The reader doesn't really discover exactly why this has happened, although there are some hints provided along the way. The heroine, Penryn, is a tough-but-vulnerable mix, along the lines of Buffy or Katniss. Her mother is a wonderful character addition in the book -- a schizophrenic that swings between being wonderfully brilliant and creepily crazy. The 'hero' is a tough/sarcastic guy who remains likable yet mysterious throughout. The story line follows Penryn as she journeys to save her crippled younger sister, who has apparently been abducted by angels.
What sets this book apart is not only the richness of the variety of characters, but the layers of themes and histories that make up the story. There is simply so much there to explore -- from Penryn's history with her mother, to her sister's injury, to the mysteries surrounding Raffe and the and the events leading up to the apocalypse itself. The angelic lore is familiar, but nicely done, with the Biblical elements not over nor understated. The romance between the characters builds slowly, with none of the immediate "Love (or obsession) at First Sight" nonsense from so many novels out there today. It is also not one of the happy-ever-after books out there, at least at this point in the series. The action and the horror elements are the icing on the cake -- make no mistake, its not a book for weak of heart (or stomach, for that matter). Because of some of the horror involved, I would suggest this book may be more in the PG-13 arena than for a much younger pre-teen audience. Its not gory exactly, but there are some graphic and bloody moments.
My only hope is that it isn't too long before the next installment comes out, so I can stay up all night reading the next chapter in Penryn's story!
on May 24, 2011
If dark urban fantasy is a genre, Susan Ee's Angelfall is the best example of it that I've come across this year. Angelfall is dark, though not oppressively so, and it's fun to read even at times when the characters aren't having fun at all. Maybe even especially at those times. Even though it's a few weeks after the end of the world and what's left of society is going downhill fast, I still found the book not just entertaining but fun...a lot more so than, say, The Road, though at times the situations aren't any less grim.
The book itself has an overall feel reminiscent of Rob Thurman's Cal Leandros stories, if, say, the Alph had won the big battle on the first page. Ee evokes a world, through snatches of imagery and introspection and conversation, where survival means working around/with/in hiding from several distinct outside forces, each with its own well-considered agenda. Characters' near-obsessive motivations are tempered by physical limitations, constant fear and danger that can come from behind, above or below at any time. This is not a violent book per se, by my standards at least, but it doesn't shy away when violence is called for by the story. It's also not the kind of story where super-powerful characters whale on each other until it's time for the good guy to win.
The thing that makes this story stand out from the crowd is its characters, and the characters in this book are right up there in the Stackhouse/Kate Daniels/Anita Blake league. While Penryn Young, Angelfall's narrator/main character, shares some attributes with all of these very different female hero characters, I'd say in my view she most reminds me of the Hunter Kiss character from the Marjorie Liu series of the same name...minus the tattoos. In the context of this story, Penryn isn't a "huntress" per se, though I'd imagine that could change to some extent as this series shapes up. But she's got the personality, values and unexpected skills to develop over the series into a thoroughly plausible action-hero-with-a-heart.
Angelfall doesn't portray its characters as superhuman (except the non-human ones, and they have plenty of flaws of their own) or gloss over the hardships they face. They squeeze a lot of mileage out of what they have, though, often in unexpected ways. Penryn, as the narrator, is naturally the most fully developed character, and is thoroughly likable for her strengths and human weaknesses. We learn about her enemy/ally/inappropriate love interest in dribs and drabs as she pieces his story together over time, and an interesting character portrait emerges with lot of potential to develop further over additional volumes. But I'd have to say the prize for creepiest character, and my personal favorite, is her mother. Completely squawking insane, though loving in her own way, she's the part of the story that caught my attention early on. With her increasingly bizarre contributions, chilling comments and hidden capabilities and predilections, I loved every appearance she made, and the sense that she's always lurking somewhere nearby while simultaneously trapped in her own dreadful little world. That the world outside more and more resembles her inner world is not lost on the observant reader, and you wonder where that aspect of the story will go over time. I can think of five or six more characters easily meriting mention here, but I don't want to plant spoilers by talking about characters introduced later in the story.
The book is written in a narrative style that I don't think I've ever seen done before, at least not that I can recall, and I can't remember ever even hearing of it being done well until now. It's told in the first person, present tense. It took me a couple of pages to get used to it, but then I found myself liking it--a lot, actually. (If you write an email or something after reading a chapter or two of this book, you might find yourself writing that way...don't hit send until you check!) The advantages of this style are readily apparent and more significant than you would think until you see it. It's the fastest-paced of all possible styles, since you feel as if it's happening in real time right now. There's none of that standard sense of anticlimax that comes from knowing that a typical first-person past-tense "narrator" would have had to come through everything alive and well, more or less, to "write the book" later. There also isn't that sense of retrospective omniscience that comes from a "narrator" character supposedly recounting the story later with the blanks filled in. We have only the information the character has, and the result is an exceptionally engaging experience of feeling yourself in her shoes.
This book is a winner, and its author has it going on with this lineup of unique characters and their "beginning-after-the-end" post-apocalyptic backdrop. There an experience here that's definitely worth expanding on; I'm already looking forward to the next book in this series.
on May 23, 2011
Totally captivating, a thrilling read, couldn't put it down!!
The pacing is furious and excellent. The relationship between Penryn and the angel a classic, filled with mistrust, desire and intrigue. The mother is hilarious (and terrifying). Very fresh and mysterious angel mythos, with pieces of the puzzle coming out throughout the book, always leaving you wanting to know more.
Ee sets up a world that has descended into madness, her writing always extremely visual and intoxicating, so close at hand it is searing.
Never a dull moment. Instantly engaging and breathtaking, all the way to multiple climaxes.
My teenage kids read Hunger Games like it was Sunday breakfast, but this book scared the hell out of them.
Read it if you dare!
on October 5, 2011
This is more of a YA horror/thriller paranormal novel with outstanding world building and well developed characters.
The actions will keep you absolutely glued to the book, reading as quickly as you can in order to turn to the next page - to find out what happens next.
I don't usually enjoy a novel that is done in mostly the 1st person narrative style - but this author pulled it off fantastically. You see and feel everything that Penryn does! The book draws you in despite the gore and terror. You just can't stop reading!
The plot, world building, characterization, and writing style are unigue and compelling.
This book will give you chills and possibly nightmares - it's that well done. Even though it was late when I finished the book - I went back and started to reread one of my more humorous, feel-good books so that I did not go to sleep with this novel on my mind.
I would not recommend this novel to anyone under the age of 16 and only then if they are mature enough to handle a horror story (think Stephen King for YA). It is definitely not for the sensitive type.
There is no real HEA - this is just a start to a series and I have a feeling that Penryn has a long way to go.
Why I rated this book only a 3:
I reserve 4 or 5 star ratings for books that I consider keepers - which I may reread again. While this book was an actual well written novel, I have no desire to continue the series - reading about the world situation now gives me enough chills and nightmares! I do and have read novels that have a lot more gore and/or violence in them but this novel was just so unnerving that I do not want to go back for more.
Am I sorry I purchased the novel - yes and no. Yes, it was a well written page-turner. No, I really could do without the post-apocalyptic, armageddon world that still comes to mind every now and then.
on December 28, 2011
This is my favorite book of 2011! This review may contain extreme amounts of gushing!
There simply were no words to describe how much I loved it, how it horrified me, shocked me, tore at my heart again and again. Brilliant.
2011 turned out to be a great year for Angel books for me. I know that might seem strange when you think of the more popular ones **cough* Hush, Hush*cough*Halo*cough*Fallen*cough**. But there is indeed hope for this paranormal genre. I thought this genre couldn't get any better than Unearthly, Angel, or Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Then, I read Angelfall. Are the literary gods playing a joke on me? How ironic for me to find my favorite book of 2011 in the last week of the year.
I'm going to do this review a little differently. I'm not going to go in some extreme in-depth talk about how awesome this book is because there are a few other reviews that do that and I don't think I could do the book any justice even if I tried. Instead, I'm going to give you ten reasons why you should go purchase this book RIGHT NOW.
1. Angelfall kicks off right from the start with plenty of action and never settles down. Expect little to no sleep until you've finished.
2. Penryn is my pick for strongest heroine of 2011. In fact, I created a new shelf just for her: "Ass-kickin' heroine." Between how she sticks up for herself and her awesomely cool, Kung Fu Panda-type skills, she's a freakin' boss. Bet on it.
3.Witty Dialogue. There are so many quotes I could paste into my review, but I can't because I'd end up just pasting the entire book. But I will paste my absolute favorite:
"My friends call me Wrath," says Raffe. "My enemies call me Please Have Mercy. What's your name, soldier boy?"
Yeah, he's a badass `G.' Susan, how do you come up with this stuff? I was thoroughly entertained!
4. The post-apocalyptic world. It's shocking, horrifying, and any other adjective you can possibly use to describe the emotion you feel while reading this book. It's a world I could never live in. I'd pretty much put my head between my legs and kiss my ass goodbye.
5. Susan did her research. Angel books run the risk of not being true to their mythological "rules." I think you know what I'm talking about here. Halo: Only eight angels fell from Heaven? Let's get real. The Mortal Instruments: Nephilim are the good guys? You've got to be kidding me. The Succubus series: Angels hanging out with Demons playing cards? Really? Really, dude? Susan created a realistic world of angels while somehow managing to not sound preachy and staying true to their original mythical cannon.
6. Because I said so.
7. The plot twists will leave you twisted. You will never see the climax or the ending coming. It blows you away.
8. Angelfall is like a weird mix between Planet of the Apes, Resident Evil and Frankenstein. Yes, it is possible for a book to be that awesome. This is that book.
9. Did I mention the dialogue? I did? Oh, well...it was so amazeballs that it deserves another separate reason. Annnddddd...I quote:
"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."
"You're like a little girl demanding answers to questions during a covert operation. Why is the sky blue, daddy? Can I ask that man with the machine gun where the bathroom is? If you don't stay quiet, I'm going to have to dump you."
"Leaking sacks of mutated maggots?" He raises his perfectly arched eyebrow as though I'd just failed my verbal insult exam."
"Oh, please. Your giant head is getting too big for this forest. Pretty soon, you're going to get stuck trying to walk between two tress. And then, I'll have to rescue you." I give him a weary look. "Again."
"Those pigeons couldn't take us out if they send their entire chirping flock."
10. Let us not forget the most important reason of all: NO INSTA-LOVE FOUND HERE! I like my romance slow burning and taking a backseat to the plot and action. Angelfall did just that. I likey. I likey a lot.
It is (at the time of me writing this review) only $.99! You have no reason NOT to buy this book! Go do it now!
More of my reviews at my blog: [..]
on December 30, 2011
Well, I guess I got schooled again. Clearly I can't hold on to this particular reading prejudice against self-published books any more, because here it is, a self-pub that is not equal in quality to similar books released by major publishers, but, in fact, better than probably 75% of those books. "Angelfall" is a well-written and well-edited novel, whose only flaw I can think of is that the Nook epub version of it has 1500 pages(?). But this formatting glitch can be fixed easily enough, I suppose.
If you are a fan of UF and post-apocalyptic adventure stories like "Blood Red Road" and "Under the Never Sky," there is hardly any doubt you will enjoy "Angelfall." It is a dynamic, practically unputdownable, even though very familiar, story. A pair of beings - a human girl and a wingless angel in this case - ally to achieve their separate goals. They are reluctant and unnatural partners in "Angelfall"'s world almost completely destroyed by angels. But, of course, they learn to respect and trust each other. I am not going to elaborate any further. You get the idea, I am sure.
Everything I am fond of in novels of this sort is there: self-reliant, courageous heroine who loves her family and is ready to sacrifice everything for them - check; romance secondary to survival - check; action, gore and moderate violence - check; a unique, fresh and twisty mythology (Ee does something rather interesting with the angel lore here) - check. Some compare "Angelfall" to "Daughter of Smoke and Bone," but I personally wouldn't go that far. "Angelfall" is a more commercial, easier to digest story, and I see nothing wrong with that. Give me more good genre fiction!
There is only a couple of things that bothered me in this novel. First, I feel there had to be a tad more information about the angel-orchestrated apocalypse. You see, the attack happened about 2 months prior to the book's beginning, but the description of it is very murky, as if it happened centuries, not weeks before and nobody remembers the details anymore. I have only the vaguest idea of what exactly happened and how it unfolded. I wish this was addressed better in the novel. Actually, some info-dumping about the apocalypse in the beginning of the book, in the barest and slowest part of it, would have been quite appropriate.
And again, connected to the same 2-months post-apocalypse timeline, the human civilization seems to have digressed too severely over this rather short time. Surely, considering that a huge percentage of human population has been wiped out, there is still enough canned food in ruined Wal-Marts to prevent people from doing some very atrocious things they do in this story for food. Plus, the main character's survival skills appear to have developed too quickly as well.
Other than that, there is nothing to complain about, really. "Angelfall" is certainly a page-turner and it gets better and better as the story progresses. I am not surprised everyone who's read this novel is so excited about it and its sequel. "Angelfall" is a stellar entertainment. Now I only wish I had an opportunity to hold a hardcover of it in my hands. How and why this book was never published the traditional way is a mystery to me.
on August 28, 2012
Angelfall is a striking debut, easily capturing our attention from the opening pages with Ms. Ee's version of a California newly decimated at the hands of entities we may have previously described as comforting, heavenly, and protective, but we must quickly revise our preconceived notions to include words like dark, brutal, and most disturbingly, evil. Though the concept of vengeful angels is certainly nothing new, Ms. Ee's world still manages to feel unique, possessing a grittiness that has us instantly on the defensive as Penryn is met with violence in the very first chapter, her loyalty to her family something we can easily grab onto and hold tight as we're pulled unceremoniously into the deep waters of an existence we'd much prefer stay relegated to the pages of fiction.
Penryn is a glorious young heroine, pushed into an unwanted leadership role with a wheelchair-bound younger sister and a severely paranoid schizophrenic mother, but she accepts her responsibilities with grim determination, even when faced with the horrors of her sister's kidnapping and the rapid deterioration of her mother's sanity. She's not only quick of mind but also extremely strong of body, able to fight off angelic and human foes alike, yet she does so in a remarkably ordinary way to make us feel as though we might be able to achieve the same results were we in her shoes. When she's navigating this new and desolate world we are right there with her, easily projecting ourselves onto her as she continuously stumbles but always manages to right herself again, putting one foot in front of the other until she achieves her goal, large or small.
Raffe is different than we anticipate after reading the synopsis and learning of the destruction his kind have caused the human race, expecting a cold and hard warrior but instead finding a man with a wry sense of humor and youthful personality. He banters with Penryn from the moment she drags him bleeding from the street, often teasing and mocking her for the assumptions she makes about him as well as her remarkably ineffective attempts to restrain him. As Penryn often muses, he comes across amazingly human, the indifference and cruelty shown by others of his kind finding no home in his countenance as he continually protects Penryn from harm. Their relationship is one comprised of tension and hesitant partnership with an underlying romantic tinge, and their dealings with one another slowly and deliciously evolve from antagonistic to something thick with possibility. Perfect happiness is not to be found however, and our hearts suffer a stunning blow once we learn just how impossible this new and as-of-yet-undefined thing between them truly is.
Angelfall is not without it's minor flaws, those readers who find themselves asking "why" a great deal while reading may balk at the lack of reasoning behind the angel attacks and their purpose in playing with humans the way they do, but it's incredibly easy to tuck those few questions into the recesses of our minds as we travel with Penryn and Raffe, so caught up in their journey that the whys of their circumstances become inconsequential. Inevitably future books will expand what was only touched upon briefly in this first installment, with angel politics sure to become a much larger focus moving forward. The ending is a touch abrupt as well, though our main criticism upon reaching the last page is not that it leaves us hanging a bit, but more than it ends at all, our desire for more time with Raffe and Penryn a throbbing need we desperately want sated as soon as possible.
on April 5, 2013
Wow. This was voted as my next read by my loyal blog followers this month and boy, they were right.
Angelfall by Susan Ee focuses on a teenaged girl, Penryn, who fights to protect her small and dysfunctional family in a post-apocalyptic Silicon Valley where angels have destroyed much of the technology and population. She has a psychologically unhinged mother who is no longer on medication, a sister who is disabled and uses a wheelchair, and no safe haven or regular food or water source. She meets Raffe, an angel, who gets his wings cut off in a fight, loses her mother, and her sister gets taken away. This all just happens in the first few pages. The rest of the book is her journey to finding her sister, his journey to repairing his wings, and their journey to understanding each other and their place in this new, terrible world.
I was completely blown away by this book. I was caught in its web a few pages in, and it never let me go. The pacing is terrific, the world building fantastic, and the plot never slows down. Who ever thought of an angel paranormal apocalypse? Not to mention Penryn is one of the best protagonists I've seen in a while-- and she also has a great and unusual backstory as to why she is so kickbutt. The prose is straight, honest, and raw, just like its protagonist and all of it falls together just right.
Overall, a smashing first book to this series, and I have just joined the mounds of eager followers that need the next book pronto! Ee is definitely an author I'll keep my eye on.
on March 31, 2013
In general, I enjoyed this book and was hooked right from the beginning. I laughed out loud at some of the parts, which I love a story with comic relief in serious situations. Plus I liked the characters. I think this series has potential and I will definitely read the next book to see how it continues.
With that said, I had a few issues with the storyline. If the angel attack only happened 6 weeks ago, I find it hard to believe that people would be that desperate yet or that society would have completely fallen apart. My husband and I live in a neighborhood with spread out houses and I can tell you that we wouldn't be ditching our home in six weeks. We have food, a garden, guns & ammo, solar electricity and our own well. I can't imagine anywhere we would be safer, unless we were under direct attack. I know that most of our neighbors are equally as prepared and we would come together in a time of crisis to help each other out. So all of the empty houses in this story just didn't ring true with me. Also, even in the cities, I would think that with all of the grocery stores, there would be enough of a food supply to last for more than 6 weeks.
Next, the romance part of the story was a bit rushed. Penryn and Raffe were only together for a few days, so I could believe there is a strong attraction, but certainly not love. For example, the part where Raffe stares at Penryn to memorize her face before he attempts to leave her. They had only been traveling together for two or three days at this point, so how strongly could he feel about her? It guess I would have liked a little more time in the story for the feelings to have developed into something more believable.
When I compare this to other recent dystopian fiction like "Divergent (Book 1)" or "Enclave", I think they have better character development and more believable love interests. And they both have kick butt heroines that have to prove themselves in tough circumstances.
I will give this book three stars for the entertainment factor and because I liked it enough to want to know what happens next.
on July 22, 2012
Like the title of this review says, Angelfall is an outstanding debut! I don't know if I've ever read a novel so quickly. It was devoured in less than a day, and I stayed up until 3AM to finish it. Then I hopped on my smart phone to see if the second book was out yet. It is that good. The pace flies, there's never a dull moment and the characters are relatable but not gimmicky. Penryn is an interesting girl. She manages to stay feminine despite having a tough side, and she's funny but not so witty that it's unbelievable coming from a seventeen year old. I'd bet the author spent considerable time crafting Penryn to make her likable without turning her into a feminist superwoman, which I personally love! Raffe was also written with a lot of care, and it shows. He's a wonderful counterpoint to Penryn's naivete and it's wonderful to see that he isn't fawning over her incessantly throughout the novel. Their banter is the best part of the story, in my opinion.
Now all this said, Ms. Ee has a lot of explaining to do in book two. There are so many loose ends, but you don't really start to worry about them until a little while after you've come down from the high that is reading Angelfall. Don't expect to get to the end of this book and feel satisfied with never hearing from Penryn or Raffe again, because you will be pining for more. And more. And more.
And did you know Ms. Ee released this novel independently? Doesn't that make it even better? Yes!