World building: 9/10
Writing style: 8/10
Character building: 9/10
My Opinionated Review
Angelfall by Susan Ee is an example of a well-done fantasy apocalypse novel. Everything worked in this story. The fantastical element of angels was not new in any way, and yet Susan Ee has managed to portray them in quite a different light, expressing all their glory and horror. She created a strong and compelling heroine, who is tough in a believable way. And she crafted a wonderfully horrifying apocalyptic world, where quite a number of scenes downright shocked me. Although this book is directed to the young-adult audience, this novel is definitely not light.
The story takes place in California, San Francisco, and the surrounding area. Six weeks ago, the angels have appeared and started the destruction of the world. The place that is was before is completely destroyed, with street gangs trying to take control, people, ready to do anything in order to survive, and any previous development – totally forgotten. The world that the author creates is so fantastical, yet it felt real. Susan Ee has crafted the horror of apocalypse quite perfectly and did not leave any details of what horrible things and tough decisions people have to make in order to survive.
At the heart of the story, we have Penryn, a wonderful, tough, and snarky female lead, who had my admiration throughout the whole journey. Growing up in a troubled family, with her mother being crazy and talking with the devil in her head, an absentee father, and a wheelchair-bound younger sister, she has to take the adult role and become responsible for her family’s survival. However, her insane mother has prepared her for these tough conditions of how to survive the apocalypse. Penryn has had all kinds of combat and self-defence training, making her able to stand her ground, and quite skilful in this dystopian world. After witnessing a group of angels remove the wings off one of the fellow angels and flying off with her younger sister, Penryn is ready to do anything to reunite her family. She ends up teaming up with the snarky and powerful, yet now wounded and wingless angel Raffe in search of her sister.
I thoroughly enjoyed Penry’s journey and her dedication to her sister. She had to face quite a few challenges along the way, leaving her in despair. Yet she always came out strong. She is good, but not too good; tough, but not too tough. And loyal to the bone. Moreover, all the imperfections that she had, made her a much more complex and compelling character.
There was plenty of action going on throughout the length of the book. The story took so many twists and turns, making it impossible to guess where it would go next. This unexpected bundle of twists and turns and really horrifying moments has assured an intense journey. I definitely have an immense respect for the author for never being afraid to push things too far. It was never unrealistic and made the horror of apocalypse much more easy to imagine.
However, my favourite part of the book was the dynamics between Penryn and Raffe. The all-powerful angel was quite easily the most entertaining character, and with his charming witty personality, cocky confidence, and powerful warrior status, has filled the story with complexity and enjoyment. It was satisfactory to see him all strong and powerful. And it was even more pleasurable to experience his joking and witty remarks, shining some light and happiness on the overall terrifying plot.
The romance between these two characters was utterly pleasing and addictive. The forbidden love story between and angel and a human girl is always a guarantee for a wild ride. And it was handled so well, with the realness and humanity o it. There were no epic declarations of love, or much romantic development overall. The forbidden love factor was never forgotten, but the subtle hints and the lack of full-romance dynamics just made me ship these two characters so much harder.
Overall, Angelfall is a strong fantasy novel about angels, that is not afraid to embrace the darkness and horror. The wonderful character building and complicated relationships are handled so well, that the fantastic world becomes very believable. The complexity of it all delivers the reader a wild and intense ride, shocking completely at one moment, and then giving some hope later on. Moreover, the unusual type of storytelling really makes the reader feel in the middle of all the action.
I recommend it for every fantasy lover. It has action, complex characters, horrifying, yet captivating plot, and a highly-addictive romantic relationship, with a lively banter between the main characters being the heart of the story.
- Scorpions – Send Me an Angel
- Imagine Dragons – Lost Cause
- Sarah McLachlan – Fallen
- Ingrid Michaelson – Can’t Help Falling In Love
- Calexico – Bloodflow