Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Angelfall (Penryn and The End of Days, #1)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Better buy this book NOW that it's 0.99 on Amazon (even on Amazon.it!)

I really regret that I've read this only now, after Christmas, when all book contests like the GoodReads one or Nomes' Faves of TwentyEleven are already closed. Angelfall would have made my list on multiple categories, without a doubt.

My first thought: another book about angels? I have to confess, it's the supernatural category I somehow like less. I find the whole religious issue a bit tricky in most cases, and it takes a solid world-building and a systematic and logical approach to metaphysical dilemmas not to have my brain turned into a useless heap of mush (see the Hallowed case).

In Angelfall though, Susan Ee managed to do a masterful job in dealing with all these nuances and I loved this book to bits.

So first of all, angels here are not... angelic. They're the bad guys, real harbingers of doom. They have come to Earth and have destroyed society as we know it, causing natural disasters, decimating the population, spreading pestilence. The call humans "the monkeys" and if they don't kill them straight away, they enslave them.
The world has turned to anarchy, people hide, try to survive and gangs have formed, looting and killing whatever and whoever they find.

Penryn is on the run, like everybody else. Homeless, after squatting in an apt for a while, she's trying to take her family - her crazy mother and her paralytic sister - to a safer place, up the hills surrounding Silicon Valley. They're escaping during the night, hoping not to be seen. During the escape though, Penryn witnesses a gang of angels settling a score with another angel. She should run and think only about her family but one of them spots them and her sister gets taken away. Penryn's left with only one choice: help the "fallen" angel the gang was trying to kill and oblige him to tell her where they took the kid.

Post-apocalyptic literature cannot get much better than this in my opinion and this is certainly the best I've read this year. Ee' s world-building is simply amazing and I loved, loved, loved the idea behind the story. If "even angels have their wicked schemes" , these ones are really, really wicked ones. They're warriors, sent to Earth by, supposedly, God, who seems to talk only to The Messenger, a chosen one. But The Messenger has been killed at the beginning of the invasion without leaving directions and now they're clueless as to their purpose.
I really liked the idea of a non all-loving god. To be precise, nobody even knows IF He's there, there's just The Messenger's word. The religious theme here is clearly treated in a very laical way, with no preaching on either side, which I appreciated a lot. I found it really brilliant that one of those same angels is barely a believer. Basically, the message here has little to do with religion or deity: angels could be just another race, aliens, as debauched and vicious as humans are, while this just another story of oppression and racism of one people towards another.

Character-wise, on the one hand there's Penryn, a human girl, a Daughter of Men. A bad ass, in my head she's reminiscent of Katniss from The Hunger Games. She's a survivor, all intent on saving her mother and her little sick sister. I liked her. A lot. She's not perfect and will make you want to smack her with her pig-headedness at times, but she's a good girl who's doing her best to care for her loved ones in a dreadful situation. There's just one sentence in the whole book she should never have uttered according to me: "I just want to be an ordinary girl living an ordinary life" - ohhh, puhhhleasse, but aside from that, she is a likable character.
On the other hand Raffe, the oppressor, though apparently gone rogue. He's borderline good/jerk, and alas, that mix I really like (see Barrons from the Fever Series). There will be times you won't like this guy for things he does or says but end in end, you see there's some good in him, and he just needs to work out his angelic issues.
I really liked the process of these two having to collaborate, come to terms with each other and overcome their prejudices and suspicions toward the otherness.

While the first part of the book, with all their hiding and escaping was great, the second part when they get to San Francisco was stunning. Very dark, a bit gory, definitely sick in some parts, I was blown away. I'll just say that there will be some cannibal monsters, some scorpion-angels and metallic teeth involved.
Even the ending was extremely good and while it ends with a sort of cliffhanger that left me craving for the next book, it's bearable.
I will be the first in line waiting for the sequel...
... and maybe I forgot to mention this is a self-published book? So, so, sorry for many published authors, this book puts to shame so many of them.


  1. I love your review! And I'm really hearing good things about this book from my friends on Goodreads and on the blogging world as well. I think I'ma check this on Amazon then. :)

    Sarah @ Smitten over Books

  2. The best .99 cents, you'll ever spend, I guarantee!

  3. Oh wow, looks awesome! I actually like warped religious mythology. Don't ask me why, because I'm neither religious nor atheist. I love "bad-ass" characters too. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention!

  4. Awesome review Lisa!! This was such an incredible book and I am simply shocked that it is still only .99 cents! I agree, its the best .99 cents you'll ever spend!

  5. I hope everybody buys it! It's just too good to pass up.

  6. Lovely review..going over to B&N and see if I can grab it for .99cents there :)

  7. I'm sure I've read a comment somewhere and someone bought it there for the same amount!

  8. Really? Never heard of this one but your review makes me want it NOW!! I heart dystopian is all I can say. ;)

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Loved this book as well! I thought Penryn's mother was a interesting character. I especially loved the beginning on how Penryn and Raffe meet; and the ending, too. ;)

  11. I have not read a book of this genre for years ,what welcome return it it was. An excellent read.

    Maycee Greene (TeakaToys - H1 Accessories)

  12. Fab review! I've had this on my kindle for so long! I need to read this soon it seems!

    Cleo Rogers Divorce Lawyers Services Austin


Thank you for stopping by and commenting. If you're a fellow blogger, I'll visit and return the favor as soon as possible. If your're using Google+ to comment, please make sure that your blog link is clearly visible on your profile.

Unfortunately, this is now an award and tag free blog, but I do thank you for your consideration.