on 4 June 2013
I have a 1.5hr commute into London every day so I read a lot of books. I saw Angelfall advertised on a poster in a tube station and when I finished another book I thought I might as well read it. To be honest I wasn't expecting a great deal - I thought it would be cheesy YA romance which I'd forget about a couple of weeks later. I also wasn't sure about the angels - I'm so fed up with vampires I thought going down the religious angel line was even more of a mistake.
Well, I was completely wrong. This book more than exceeded my expectations in every aspect. It was gripping from start to finish, so much so I actually missed my train stop because I was so engrossed in it. The author has created characters you actually care about, from Penryn (our strong-willed and human heroine with her occasional girly traits) and Raffe (our arrogant and tormented angel), to Penryn's crazy mum and the band of resistance fighters. Keeping all the action in a fairly small geographical location (in this case the San Francisco area) means the author can give us a good picture of the post-apocolyptic landscape without bringing complete doom on the world. I found myself rooting for almost everyone the whole way through, and I wanted to know more about everyone. I guess there is only so much space in one book, but I'd like to have heard how the resistance had gotten together and a bit more about the hierarchy of the angels.
This book has clearly been written as the first in the series - not least because there are way too many loose ends to be completely finished. I know for certain that as soon as another comes out I will be out there buying it.
Whether you are interested in YA titles or not (usually I'm not, although I did like The Hunger Games series) it is definitely worth giving this book a try. It is not a long read (more's the pity!) but you'll be hooked...
on 30 June 2012
I do not know what I was expecting when I bought this book. It had a pretty cover and was going cheap so I thought I would give it ago. I had heard good things about it, I thought I might like it but I wasn't expecting to be blown away...yet I was. Consider me officially blown.
Angelfall is one of the most exciting books I have read in a long time. It has a lot going for it. The plot line is mesmerizing you live and breathe it from the very beginning until the end. It is a compelling story of family, sacrifice and love.
I found the characters incredibly engaging. Penryn is a strong female lead, a lot stronger than most girls you see in Young Adult books. The lengths she is prepared to go to for her sister is something we have seen before (see The Hunger Games) but it still proves to be touching. Raffe, the lead male character, is also strong and the perfect partner for Penryn as she travels across a ruined America. They are characters that are easy to get behind; easy to like and before you know it you realise you are caring about them.
The romantic relationship between them is a slow burner and manages to get under your skin even though nothing really happens. In fact calling this book a `romance' book is probably lying. There is little to no romance in this at all, just a shadow of what is to come in future books in the series.
Angelfall does get a few things wrong. There are a few times where Ee stretches reality a little too thinly and it becomes a little hard to believe. These moments are few and far between and do not greatly affect the reading experience. Also her world building is a little bit unbelievable. In six weeks America seems to have deteriorated an awful lot. (However, I haven't been through an apocalypse so how would I know)
What Ee does with this book that many other authors struggle with is her scene building. From a lonely feather falling from the sky to the image of Angel Gabriel hovering over an under siege Jerusalem. Every scene is crafted with beauty that makes for a mesmerizing experience for the reader. I think it is the main reason that the book is almost impossible to put down.
Another thing Angelfall has going for it is the brutality and violence. It really pushed the boundaries of how brutal, gory and violent a YA should be. In my mind it was all justified and was there for the benefit of the story but those with a weaker stomach might find parts of this book disturbing and sickening. This is no walk in the park this is a world full of tragedy and darkness. It holds nothing back and shows you a place that is ripped apart and dyeing. It is probably the most violent and gory Ya book I have read.
I could not recommend this book more highly. It is one of the best books I have read this year and is in my top three YA books of all time. I loved it, loved it, loved it and I literally cannot wait for the next book in the series, if it is anything like this then I know I am in for one hell of a ride.
on 5 December 2011
I found this book through Goodreads, where it was one of my recommendations. Originally, I had just requested the Kindle sample, but as soon as I got to the end of the very generous excerpt, I absolutely had to read the rest. (On the issue of samples: quite often, I've noticed that the quality of the writing dips seriously after the end of the sample. No such problems here!)
Susan Ee has created a compelling mix of characters: Penryn, the young heroine, is responsible for looking after a paranoid mother and a sister in a wheelchair. The world has been engulfed by the Apocalypse (no, really), and as the novel opens, they are desperately trying to leave their wrecked apartment block and, as darkness falls, head for the hills -- despite the danger of marauding gangs and patrols of the Angels who have brought human civilisation crashing down.
That's when they witness five of these powerful beings ganging up on a single, injured Angel. Penryn intervenes on the side of the underdog, and that's when her problems start. Her crippled sister is kidnapped by the Angel gang, her mother disappears, and she is left with the mysterious angel Raffe, who seems on the point of death.
How Penryn and Raffe set out to San Francisco to find the angels' aerie, how they encounter the human resistance movement en route, and what they find when they get to the aerie (much grisliness here, though not of the truly gross variety) -- all these events unfold over the rest of the book. And all the while, we're unravelling more of the mystery of Raffe and the other Angels, starting to find answers to why they're on earth, who they are, and what they're doing here, especially in the aerie's basement -- and some of those answers are deeply troubling.
The novel is very well presented on the Kindle; there are none of the formatting errors that seem disappointingly common. It's also been well edited; I only discovered one instance of "site" instead of "sight" (probably) and one instance of what I suspect is an editing mishap: "The shape of the wings are not shaped like a bird's wings" -- I imagine "shape of the" should have been deleted there. (Okay, okay, I know I'm nitpicking.)
One more word on the Angels. There is (or there was) a Gabriel, there's an Uriel and a Beliel, and possibly it helps to know a little (arch)angel lore. But one of the angels is an agnostic, and overall they seem a) far from perfect and b) not to know what they're doing. In a different book, they might simply be aliens.
This is a thoroughly original book, well written, well paced, with fascinating characters and overall very enjoyable. I can't wait for the next one.
on 4 June 2013
I can see why this is an internet sensation. It plunges you straight into an America ravaged by destructive angels - the descriptions of streets jammed with empty cars and littered with abandoned mobile phones are haunting, and it's action-packed right from the start. Add to that an incredibly hot angel-guy, Raffe, and Penryn, the narrator, a tough girl with a mentally ill mother who has to protect her sweet and vulnerable younger sister (a formula straight from The Hunger Games), and you have a page-turner.
However, I found Penryn's inner monologue a bit overwritten (she describes every... single... thought process, and sometimes even her breathing. Argh), and the immediate sexual chemistry between her and Raffe - the love/hate power struggle, the biting repartees, the endless reminders of his physical beauty - predictable, tired and even a bit icky, eg. when applying blister plasters to his pus-and-blood-y feet (a 4-page scene): "I rub my finger firmly around the adhesive to make sure it won't fall off. He inhales sharply and I can't tell if it's from pain or pleasure. I'm careful to keep my eyes down on my task." Ew.
The plot compels you on, but I must admit that after the introduction of a pair of mischievous, entrepreneurial, red-headed twins (hello Weasleys!) who speak as one and call themselves Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and a one-dimensional bitchy girl character with whom she has a wet t-shirt wrestle, I started skim-reading. The denouement is dramatic, and the revelation of what the angels are up to is dark and certainly original, with a cliffhanger ending ready for book two.
If you're looking for a fast read with drama and chemistry, and don't mind the occasional narrative clumsiness or cliché, then you might enjoy this; it just wasn't magical enough for me.
on 7 March 2014
Review by Grace - Year 7
It’s 6:30 am as I write this. I have just finished reading Angelfall, a dark urban fantasy novel. I have read the book over the past three days.
Angelfall begins at a time of a post-apocalyptic event. It reminded me totally of a book namely “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy (2006).
Following on from an ‘Armageddon’, where angels attempt to conquer our human civilisation, the book is emotionally shattering. Angelfall affirms the pricelessness of what we as humans take for granted, the here and now of our ‘civilised’ lives. Angelfall creates a ‘nightmare’, which through Penryn’s character and life experiences highlight the cruelty and ugliness of some people’s lives; where they have been born into a situation not of their making. But how, despite this, everyone has something to lose…..Attachment and friendships are with us all, the fragile aspects of these concepts are highlighted in Angelfall.
The reader is never really told why the ‘invasion of angels’ has taken place.
One of the main characters in the book is Penryn, a tough but very vulnerable young lady, vulnerable emotionally prior to the angel invasion. Penryn’s mother is a fascinating character – a schizophrenic who alternates between a knowledgeable human being to a destructive, crazy wild animal.
The storyline follows Penryn as she seeks to save her younger sister who is wheelchair bound and has additional needs. Penryn’s younger sister is abducted by the angels.
The details and peculiarities of the characters are developed throughout the book. This is further enhanced by different layers of thematic events and past histories that all impact upon the apocalyptic situation as it unfolds. The storyline ignites the reader’s desire to investigate and visualise themes in the storyline, such as Penryn’s history with her mother; Penryn’s sister’s disposition and how all this came about as well as the reason for and the actual occurrence of the apocalypse; not to mention Raffe’s uniqueness and why he differs from his fellow breed of angels. The reference to Biblical matters, such as the crucifixion can be overpowering when reading the book, leaving myself, as a reader, feeling sad that such biblical events ever took place.
Penryn’s love and admiration for Raffe and his qualities builds gradually as the storyline progresses. The turmoil of a ‘love/hate’, ‘trust/non-trustworthy’ relationship is communicated to the reader. The development of the relationship over time for Penryn is projected by the author rather ironically as the author tends to use this in contrast to Penryn’s mother’s relationships, that are built on “obsessional love at first sight – immediate and short lived”.
The book is full of anguish, graphical repulsion and dare I say ‘horror’ evoking. The consistent use of abusive language and swear words in the text further enhances the hostile manner the book is written in. As such, this is one of my main reasons for saying, as a 12 year old reading this book, I appreciated that I had the ability to feel grounded in my own well-being. I clearly felt that if the book were made into a film, as the “Road” was, that it would definitely reach a PG rating of 12 years plus age range – and even this, pending the stability of the viewer, could challenge a lot of teenagers depending on their life experiences. The book has its moments of gore, deep grimness and bloody graphics, but, what I found more challenging was the realisation that other teenager’s lives could mirror the reality of having a parent with mental health problems and a sibling with complex medical and learning needs. These teenagers are real and exist and struggle in ‘our’ world today – just as Penryn portrayed to the reader in the book. The stark reality of this really does hit emotive feelings within me.
A lot of young teenagers and children in our world have had forced adult responsibilities placed upon them – often as a result of an absent parent and/or parental mental health needs. But despite this, the attachment they maintain with their parent is strong and the parents need to remain in contact is often present. Penryn’s relationship with her mother in the book highlights the turmoil of such needs from both parties perspective.
Penryn’s values, personality and unexpected skills all come together in a manner that displays her with a ‘hidden heart’. Penyrn is not projected as a superhuman…her hardships are fully exposed. Penryn becomes a very likable and admired character for her strengths and human weakness. Her loyalty to her family is something all people can relate to. But Penryn’s experiences are better kept in this fictional context than brought into reality.
The focus of survival of the fittest is a clearly highlighted aspect of the book. The nature of violence is presented in contrasting ways e.g. how Penryn’s sister gained her injuries compared to the fighting within the camp to alleviate tensions and frustrations in a controlled manner.
The use of a narrative style of writing, in the first person and present tense, I feel helps keep the reader encapsulated and wanting to read on. The pace when reading makes you feel as if the events are actually happening – almost outside your door – even though you know this would be absurd, given the fantasy element of the story. This makes the book exciting and engaging to read. As the reader, I felt often, that I was Penryn.
Raffe, by contrast, as a character is initially portrayed as an outcast angel, but an angel one would not want to associate with. However, as the reader reads on, and analyses Raffe’s character, you see Raffe’s sense of humour and very playful, young personality. His banter with Penryn further underlines his ‘playfulness’. He presents, at times, as human, which causes confusion for Penryn. He protects Penryn in much the same way that Penryn protects her family. Penryn’s and Raffe’s relationship can be tense, a confused partnership at times, but with an element of romance present. Penryn’s and Raffe’s ‘journey’ alone, maintains the reader’s interest. How they gradually develop a trustworthy relationship with mutual respect is intriguing. Then added to this the ‘why’ questions you ask regarding the circumstances they face together adds further intrigue for the reader to explore and ponder.
The books ending still left me with the question as to why in the first place did the angels carry out this apocalypse on human society. However the ending is abrupt - perhaps planned to lead to that 2nd book? After all it leaves itself open to a sequel. However, I’d think I would wait until I was a couple of years older before reading any sequel given the language and visual imagery of this book.
on 18 July 2011
I was captivated by Susan Ee's Angelfall. There are so many things to like about this book. It takes place months after an Armageddon instigated by angels. Angels are the bad guys? Yes. That's only one of Angelfall's quirky elements. The characters are endearing and fascinating: The tough/tender heroine Penryn. Her mentally ill and very dangerous mother. Disabled sister. Absent father. And the hunky angel, Raffe, who may or may not be a good "guy".
None of these are stereotyped or predictable. Which is so refreshing. I am not a fan of popular fiction. The current preoccupation with faeries, vampires, werewolves, witches, and angels leaves me cold. But this book didn't.
Superbly well-written and perfectly paced, Angelfall could be used as a model of good writing in any creative writing seminar. The action never ceased as the plot unfolded to reveal unpredictable scenes and situations. Like the politics of angel society. Humans preparing to revolt against angels. And what those angels are up to in San Francisco.
The author's use of place enthralled me. I was born in San Francisco and spent most of my life on the San Francisco Peninsula. The book is set in my old stomping ground. So when she describes Penryn and company heading for Page Mill Rd and crossing El Camino in Palo Alto, I could visualize the scene exactly. The same was true for her locations on Skyline and in San Francisco. When authors site a story in a physically real place that I know, I get really perturbed if the location isn't portrayed correctly. Ee does this perfectly.
I'm looking forward to the next installment of the Penryn & the End of Days series.
I highly recommend this book for adults who like intense fantasy with horrific elements and violence. I didn't find either disturbing, but some might. I would recommend this for older Young Adults.
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy (Tales from Earth's End) Winner of the Gold Medal for Visionary Fiction in the 2011 IPPY (Independent Press) Awards (USA)
on 8 January 2013
Gave it a go on the basis of the ratings and the fact it seemed like it had a good base concept...it was fine I guess it just never really grabbed me sadly. The internal commentary of the girl annoyed me a bit and I found the descriptions of her thinking a little strained and forced.
Fine to kill some time but the ratings mislead (in my personal view that is, clearly a lot of people did love it)
on 20 February 2012
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: An Unearthly Novel 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 badass, 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.
on 13 July 2014
Without a doubt, THE best angel book I have ever read! This book just blew me away. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where angels are the harbingers of death, one girl must team up with the enemy if she is to have any chance of rescuing her sister from the clutches of evil.
From the very first page, the reader is catapulted into a world where angels roam the sky and humans are fighting for survival. Among those still standing is Penryn, a 17 year old girl who must call upon all her survivalist instincts if she is to have any chance of saving her family. While rescuing an angel after he has his wings cut off by his own kind, her wheelchair bound sister is taken and carried off into the night. Left with the wounded angel and her schizophrenic mother to look after, Penryn begins a journey that will change her life.
I devoured this book! Right from the first line I was sucked in and kept up until the wee hours of the morning, loving every second of this heart-pounding ride. Penryn was an amazing character. Having been trained in various self-defense and martial-arts techniques, she is a true survivalist. Strong willed, determined and head strong, she is one kick-ass heroine. She also has a vulnerability about her which makes the reader connect to her. She doesn't enjoy fighting, but she will to save herself and those she loves. The story is told in first person from her POV so we are able to feel her desperation and heart-ache as she searches for her baby sister. Raffe I loved. He is snarky and brash and even though he is the enemy, you begin to warm to him as the story progresses. You get a sense of his despair at having his wings cut off and begin to see a different side to him. The connection between Penryn and Raffe was well thought out and believable. At first they are both wary of each other, both each others enemy, but as they travel together, their partnership grows into contention, bordering on friendship.
The story itself was an action-packed thrill ride. There is no hiding from the harsh reality of what has happened to the world. The author doesn't sugar-coat anything. It's gory, raw, edgy and frightening. It is dark, fast paced and filled with so many twist and turns you will be on the edge of your seat throughout. The writing is so descriptive and flows so brilliant that every drop of blood spilled is captured in great detail.
The ending. My god the ending! I was in bits! What a way to end a book! I am dying to get my hands on book two but we don't even have a release date yet! :( I am having withdrawal symptoms here! Please Ms Ee, put me out of my misery!
If you haven't read this book then you need to get it like right now! One of the best books I have ever read!
on 9 January 2014
Gosh, where to begin? It's another typical, albeit well written, young adult book with a romance featuring supernatural beings, although this time round it's angels and not vampires. Mostly it's a romance book but there's a nice look at a post apocalyptic world although the 'witty banter' between the two protagonists is cringeworthy.
He is a typical romance book alpha male; strong, silent, always in control, but secretly deeply in pain that only the right woman can ease. And naturally he's stunningly good looking.
She's a typical romance book female: ostensibly tough, but actually usually has to wait around until the hero can step in and rescue her. At least she has *some* skills (she can fight) for which we can thank the Hunger Games for - FINALLY women are allowed a little bit of toughness. But only a little bit. Oh, and of course, she's beautiful, because as we all know, plain or normal looking women aren't worthy of attention.
Of course it ends with the 'lovers' being torn apart and one thinking the other's dead. Didn't Shakespeare cover this already?
The story is well written and although it does fall into typical romance book cliches, it manages to skirt the worst and deliver some enjoyable storyline. I just wish the author had concentrated more on the story and not on the romance, which was cliche-heaven, because the setting and the storyline was compelling. She just needs a better editor to cut out some of the nonsense and then this would be one of the best YA books in a long time - easily matching the Hunger Games.
I'm debating whether or not to buy the sequel. If it's reasonably romance free then it would be worth it, but if it concentrates more on the heroine's growing attraction to the hero then no.