Last month I stumbled upon a book that literally blew my mind away. It was simply epic. Back then, AngelFall by Susan Ee was only available through eBook and only had a couple hundred reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I think it’s safe to say that this book is starting to get the attention it deserves. AngelFall is definitely a hidden gem—especially among the hundreds of YA books out there that just can’t simply compare. What shocked me was how a book so insanely good wasn’t sitting on the “Top Seller” shelf at Barnes & Noble. AngelFall was my first eBook, which makes me feel especially lucky that I had chosen this particular book above others to read. Susan Ee is an extremely talented writer and AngelFall is proof of her exceptional skills. I just received my hard copy version of AngelFall last night and am eager to reread it all over again—this time accompanied by the smell of fresh pages!
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.
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.
AngelFall by Susan Ee surprised me in many ways. The first of which was the magnificent world building in which Ee was able to develop an intricate plot surrounding ‘angel politics’. I’m not entirely sure if something like this has been done before but it was certainly the first time for me. Imagine taking all of those religious themes that we all know, and turning it into something that is somewhat believable from a non-religious point-of-view (i.e. Archangels, Gabriel as a messenger, etc.).
This book is not your typical romance novel about a teenager girl infatuated with a superior supernatural being. Yes, there is a teenage girl with awesome name—Penryn Young. Yes, there is a drop dead gorgeous male lead—Raffe. But somewhere amidst all of the teenage angst that one expects from a book like this….is a story that puts all of that to shame. AngelFall is somewhat more sophisticated than all of that. The main character, Penryn Young, is not an idiot. She has a purpose and she sticks with it, despite the fact that she’s on an adventure with an extremely attractive companion.
Her mind doesn’t wander beyond what she needs to focus on—and that’s what makes her real. She’s living in the middle of an angel apocalypse for God’s sake and that’s why no person in his or her right mind has time to ogle at someone who may or may not be responsible for the deaths of millions of people. Instead, Penryn and Raffe develop a tolerance for one another that isn’t exactly ‘friendship’…nor is it anything close to love (at least not in the sense that we are used to). They come to respect one another as allies. And while their interactions are minimal, their brief conversations convey just enough for us readers to see their relationship grow. It’s a realistic approach to these characters, especially since they are put in such difficult situations. And when chaos erupts at end of AngelFall, everything and every action taken by all characters makes reasonable sense. Everything is logically put in place. Susan Ee does an awesome job with this.
As you read earlier, I’m thoroughly impressed with Ee’s take on angel politics. This mixed with some angel mythology and Ee has developed one of the most interesting angel storylines I have ever read. Am I the only one who didn’t catch on right away that Raffe stood for Raphael? As I mentioned before, the world building behind this book is excellent, and if you’re looking for big epic battles—this book has it all. There’s actually a human resistance group! Talk about realistic. The ending had me reeling at how crazy this book was—crazy good.
Nevertheless, reading AngelFall was a thrill. At times you felt chilled to the bone and in other instances, you felt and lived in the same world as Penryn. I could imagine myself walking the same deserted California highways and bare forests that our main characters traveled (perhaps too much Walking Dead on my part). I was even a little freaked out every time Penryn’s mother made her frequent appearances throughout the book.
I highly recommend this series to anyone who is looking for a good read. You’ll love the characters and you’ll love the plot even more. There is romance—but it’s not overdone, which is perfect for the way this book has been set up. As much as I am a sucker for romance, I didn’t need the romance in this book to pull me in. Susan Ee did that with her own creativity. I’m eagerly awaiting book #2 of Penryn & the End of Days.
Theme Music: There’s Only Me – Furious Angels
*Photo: Photo by Keely Varada