I am usually not big on apocalyptic books. Generally, they feel all too familiar for me to ever get the sense that I am reading a truly unique story. “Angelfall” wasn’t that for me at all! The last thing humans would expect to cause the end of the world, have. Angels have come to earth and turned Northern California (though really, it’s the whole world I’d assume) into a waste land. People struggle to eat, gangs roam the streets, but everyone knows to find shelter come dark; it’s basically like the TV show “The Walking Dead” minus the zombies. Driving the helm of destruction are the angels themselves, though not all seem to agree as they occasionally turn on each other, which is evidenced when Penryn comes across a group of angels attacking one of their own. All Penryn wants to do is survive, she wants to take care of her mentally damaged mother, and protect her paralyzed little sister. But after Penryn tries to help the fallen angel, those who attacked him have other ideas. Snatching Penryn’s sister from her pushes a human and angel to form an unlikely alliance in order to get her sister back, and return his wings. All while the world burns around them, how quaint.
I love that “Angelfall’s” stakes evolve over time for Penryn. It doesn’t start off as her deciding that she, a 17 year old girl with a ton of self-defense and combat training, can, or even should, try and save the world. Her goals are personal. She just wants to survive, and keep what’s left of her family fed, and intact. Which is hard enough if your family is able bodied, even more so when one can’t walk, and one was seeing demons well before they actually came to earth. Penryn’s motivations are always personal, and therefore believable. It’s not that she doesn’t want to help when and where she can, just that she is aware their enemy is as close to godly as you can be, and realistically, she can’t do much on her own. But what she CAN do is keep her sister safe, and when angel’s get in the way of that, she does what she has to, even if that means joining the resistance, but her sister is always the motivating factor.
Ee has done a decent amount of research for her story from the book of Revelation, and it shows with the foes that Penryn and her angel “friend” Raffe face, and the lore around those preternatural beings. I enjoyed that so much that I started doing some research of my own afterwards! You have to really appreciate when an author manages to capture the reader in such a way, and I was so pleased by how Ee captured not just my imagination, and investment in her characters survival, but my curiosity to learn more on the creatures she mentions.
The partnership between Penryn and Raffe felt natural as well, I loved their interactions, tense, but at times playful, and touching. I enjoyed the portrayal of Penryn’s mother and the mental illness she harbors, and how that shaped Penryn into a girl you can believably see being a badass, able to survive in this newly apocalyptic world. Ee’s attention to detail is lovely when it comes to all her characters, so much so that I’m already dying to read the next in the series (thank goodness it’s out already)! I really can’t say enough good things about this book, enough questions were answered that I didn’t mind the incredibly bittersweet quasi-cliffhanger ending, and I am excited to continue on in the trilogy. For that fact alone, this book gets a solid 5 stars!
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