Thursday, 10 May 2012

Book review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

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 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.

5 stars

Published May 21st 2011 by Feral Dream.  A free copy was provided for review.  Images courtesy of Goodreads.

Review by Kate Phillips


  1. I loved this book. But the ending was annoying because now I'm just dying to know what happens next.

    1. I can't wait for the next one either!! I loved this book so much and just need to know what happenes next.

  2. This book is on my TBR list, I'm glad I came across your review because it reminded me that I do really want to read this....SOON! Wonderful review!


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