Angelfall by Susan Ee.
Penryn & the End of Days #1.
Page Count: 283.
Published: May 21, 2011.
Published by: Feral Dream.
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.
I have to start off by saying that I've seen tons of gushing reviews of this one. Its Goodreads rating is 4.29. At the same time, though, I don't usually like angel books, so I went in with mixed expectations. There is definitely a lot to enjoy in Angelfall, but honestly, I didn't love it the way everyone else seemed to. I was very encouraged by the beginning and for a while I thought the angel concept was working well, but it all later started to fall apart for me.
I did love Penryn, the main character. She is a perfectly imperfect female lead for the story. She is intelligent (her mental back-and-forth is so fun to read) and knows how to kick some butt, but sometimes she screws up like the rest of us do. Plus her qualities all have reasons behind them. She's strong and self-sufficient because since her father left her family, she has taken on the role of parent. She isn't a good fighter "just because;" she has been trained for years in self-defense because her mother is mentally ill and worried she'd snap and hurt Penryn. She was a realistic and relatable heroine who is capable of taking care of herself, but just doesn't always want to be alone. Hence her travelling companion, Raffe. Raffe I also enjoyed, despite the fact that he remains mysterious and closed off for much of the novel. While not much is revealed about him, I thought their occasional banter was realistic and fun. They both had separate motivations but I think they made a good team and really grew to care and look out for one another.
I also very much enjoyed the beginning of the book. The post-angel-apocalypse world was interesting to explore and at that point of the book I was still assuming I'd get answers to my questions about it (I didn't). The introduction to Raffe and the other angels was exciting and visual and, I think, very well done. It showed the fear the humans have of angels, the discord within the angel community (though, again, not WHY), that Penryn is kick-butt but still a normal and scared human, and it puts into motion the reason for the whole plot. The early scenes in this one really did a lot for me. The middle, even, where they come across the compound (not expanding on that because spoilers), was well done and intriguing.
Where the book really started to lack for me was in the plot in the last third of the novel. I was already getting tired of waiting for answers to some of my questions and a lot of them still hadn't come by the end of the book, which sometimes I'm okay with but in this case was just frustrating. The ending felt very overloaded with new surprises and information being introduced and that led to a jumbled and clunky sort-of resolution that clearly requires reading of the sequel for full acceptance. It really started to lose me with all that was going on at the end and I was left feeling detached and unsatisfied, which is nothing like how I felt at the beginning.
What started out with such promise and had really enjoyable characters ended in a jumbled overload for me. I did enjoy most of the book and I know a lot of people loved the whole story, so if it sounds like your thing I would encourage you to give it a try. I personally just didn't find it anything to get especially excited about.