Saturday 12 January 2013

Review: Angelfall

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)Title: Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1)
Author: Susan Ee
Publisher: Self-published
Released: 21st May 2011
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

I went into this with a little bit of trepidation, given my past experience with books surrounded by hype.  But anything I felt on starting this, anything I had going on inside me, whether it was expectations, nervousness, anticipation...this book totally obliterated them, leaving me instead filled with awe.  I contemplated whether to actually write a review for Angelfall in light of all the hundreds already out there, but I figured I'd write this for the one percent of readers who still haven't read it.  Because it turns out that somehow, I am not the last person on Earth to read this.

In opening the first page, we find ourselves six weeks into a now post-apocalytic world.  Instead of zombies we have angels; instead of dead bodies traipsing we have celestial beings flying.  Yet for some reason they have chosen to make a battleground of the entire planet.  Buildings that once stood tall are now reduced to rubble, at the very most bones of what they once were.  People have begun to turn on each other.  It's every person for themselves.  Everyone tries to stay out of the angels' sight, and of each other's, and it's this fear of being seen that most troubles Penryn when she and her mother and sister leave their old condo one night to move on.  But they don't get very far before an angel, broken and bloody, comes falling out of the sky, and not long after him are several more.  After watching them slice off his wings Penryn knows they have to get away as soon as possible, but one tiny little sound snags their attention and leads to her sister being kidnapped.  Determined to get her back by whatever means necessary, she makes a deal with the wingless angel, Raffe.  He will help her find her sister and she will help him survive as they make their way to the angels' fortress.

The plot that Susan Ee has created for us is absolutely fantastic.  Immediately thrusting us into the action, well after the apocolypse has taken place, was the perfect way to start the story.  From the word 'go' there was a heavy sense of tension and anticipation, and the pace of the story combined with the way the writing swallowed me whole meant I was turning the pages desperately.  Ee knows the meaning of the word creativity.  She knows the meaning of originality.  She knows the meaning of success.  Because the ideas in here?  The stages she has created for Penryn and Raffe, the creatures she has brought to life, every single component of the world described here?  They're perfect.  And they cannot be found anywhere else.  Her writing is gripping, flawless.  The world-building, the fight scenes, the characters, literally everything was written beautifully to come together to make this amazing book.

I loved Penryn right from the start.  Her character comes through astonishingly clearly even on the first page.   She is seriously one of the most badass heroines you will ever meet.  I loved that she was independent and knew how to fight for herself - not only herself, but her family too.  Her mother's schizophrenia and her sister's disability meant she was the protector, and my heart ached for her because she had to carry so much weight on her shoulders.  It would have been easy for her to give up and still she carried on, going after her sister with fierce determination.  There were few overt signs of her vulnerability, Ee choosing instead to show it more subtley.  She is an incredibly resourceful character and she constantly has her eye on her end goal: to get her sister back.  Penryn's voice is appreciable and amusing, making it very easy to not only like her, but support her in everything she does and wish that she does get her happy ending.

Raffe is the perfect counterpart to Penryn.  He too has his own goal in sight: to make it to the fortress and get his wings back on so that he can once more be whole.  He deliberately remains as closed off to her as possible and I adored the way he could always see right through her.  Now and then the sweeter side of him would show and every time it did, he stole a bit more of my heart (of course by the end, he had decided to just grab the whole thing and take it for himself).  He is strong but incredibly vulnerable at the same time, and it amazed me to just see him continue to carry on despite everything.  The relationship between Penryn and Raffe is wondrously slow.  Ee did a phenomonal job of creating the build-up in the romance between them; I greedily took in every word spoken between them, every touch, every look.  What made it even more perfect was the fact that not once did this romance overtake the plot.  Instead it accepted its position at second place and worked itself so that it enhanced the storyline rather than dominate it.  The relationship built slowly, gradually, to culminate in an ending so perfect, so bittersweet, that to have ended it any other way would have been simply tragic.

The ending.  Oh, God.  How do I describe to you how enthralling it was?  How it had me so hooked and how it was so unpredictable and incredible that one minute I'd be gasping, the next holding my hand over my heart, the next again holding it over my mouth?  This was where the author astounded me the most with her brilliant imagination.  This was where the most emotion was wrung out of me.  It was shocking, disturbing, painful, amazing, bittersweet, all at the same time.  This was genius.

There can be no exaggeration for just how wonderful Angelfall is.  Susan Ee has created a terrifically gritty and captivating novel whose characters are realistic and heart-wrenching, and whose plot is beautifully original.  To that remaining one percent, please.  Please go and read this book.  You honestly have no idea what you're missing out on, and this is a book that can't not be read.  As for you, Ms Eee...all I can do is thank you from the bottom of my heart for creating such an inspirational, beautiful book.

Thank you to the amazing Anatea for joining me in a read-along! A fantastic book is always better with someone to share it with. :)


  1. I loved reading your review and hearing how you loved it! Be sure to join us on this forum, we're a really active bunch!

  2. Yay! I'm so glad you loved this one, Aa'Ishah! I just ADORED it and RAFFE!<3 I can't wait for Book 2, especially after that heartbreaking ending, and I am just counting down the days till I can read more Raffe!(: Amazing review, dear!

  3. Aa'Ishah, I'm the one percent of readers who still haven't read it :) But you got me hit the buy button and actually bought the book after reading your review. So, thank you, my friend ^^

  4. Sadly, I'm that one percent who still hasn't read it yet! Your review is so amazing, it looks like to me that you've done it justice! The plot sounds absolutely exciting and I think it's great that Ee starts off with a bang. The characters seem lovely as well-- Penryn's protective nature towards her family, and then her relationship with Raffe. Thank GOD Ee takes the relationship nice, slow, and believable!! Aa'Ishah, this is a phenomenal review, thank you!!

  5. Incredible review, Aa'Isha! :) I recently read this book too and despite the massive hype, I was COMPLETELY blow away by its brilliance! Penryn! Raffe! The Angel mythology! The phenomenal action scenes and constant suspense! *sigh* I wholeheartedly agree with your entire review. :)

  6. I'm part of that 1% who hasn't read this yet lol. I agree with what you say, I tend to not enjoy books as much when there's a lot of hype surrounding them. Penryn sounds like just the kind of badass female character that I really enjoy and her romance with Raffe, with the slow build up is just what I love. While I've been a bit fed up with angel books lately, I do hope to pick this one up soon. Great review Aa'Ishah :)

  7. This was such a wonderful story and I'm anxious to get my hands on the second book! Brilliant review Aa'Ishah! :)

  8. Oh dear, I'm in the one percent. I own the book, it's sat on my kindle waiting for me to read it. I just haven't gotten around to it...

    I promise I shall do that at some point. This year.

    Otherwise, fabulous review! :)

  9. I'm glad to know from the comments above I'm not the only one who hasn't read this fantastic book, I remember reading all the enthusiastic reviews coming for this book when it first came out, and I'm glad that you enjoyed this book just as much. I can't for the life of me deal with cliffhangers, so I'm tempted to hold off a little while longer, closer to the release date of the next book before picking this up! Wonderful review Aa'Ishah! :)

  10. I can't even talk about this book without melting a little. Every little detail worked for me perfectly, from the characters to the plot. I agree that Raffe had a vulnerable side - one that appealed to me a lot, actually. I honestly can't wait for the sequel! Brilliant review, Aa'Ishah! :)

  11. Everytime I see a beautiful, positive review for this book, I want it even more. Yes, I'll admit it, I haven't read this! *cue gasps* This has been on my TBR pile for sooo long now, and I seriously need to finally grab this so I can see what all the fuss is about!

    Anyway, thank you for sharing this wonderful, very persuasive review with us, Aa'Ishah! You've definitely, without a doubt, done this book justice!

    By the way, your header and blog button are STUNNING! Like, before I even read this review, I just stared at the header for ages (like a very weird person) , simply admiring it! So, thanks for the lovely treat-for-my-eyes, I guess! :D

  12. I'm dying. Your review is KILLING ME AA'ISHAH!! I am sadly in that 1% of stupid people who have not read this yet. BUT. There's a copy on hold at my library ready for me to pick up this week. I swear I have not read a single bad word about Angelfall and now your review has made my excitement fresh and desperate! The worldbuilding, the characters, the romance, the EMOTIONS. AMAZING REVIEW! I hope I love it just as much!

  13. I've said this already in my comment in GR but I'm going to say it again. This is a KICKASS review, A! I couldn't agree more with everything you said. This book is just utterly fantastic. I'm so looking forward for the next book. I miss Raffe!!! Haha! Brilliant review as always, A. :)


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