This series is going to destroy me in the best way possible. I read the first book in the trilogy years ago, and then again recently in preparation for finishing the series this year. “Angelfall” remains one of my favorite reads, and now “World After” is joining it! I was able to buddy read this and it was so much fun to talk about all the little things we noticed and the parts we loved, so I promise you, I got that all out of my system early to avoid spoilers. But seriously, read “Angelfall” first before even LOOKING at this review as “World After” starts almost exactly where the first book left off. But, in this installment, we get a lot more of Penryn on her own, her struggles with her survivors guilt and being the big sister Paige needs. She struggles trying to see PEOPLE instead of monsters, plus we finally get the full picture of what the angels are doing on Earth, and just how little humans actually matter to them.
First, before I gush for the rest of the review, here are the few things that did give me pause. There are some dream sequences/training montages that felt a little weird. I understood their purpose, and I get it, but it also felt like it was cheating a bit? Penryn learns a lot through these dreams, things that I wish a certain angel choose to tell Penryn instead, but oh well. I also found it odd how often our MC repeated the name of the book in the actual book. Is that a cliché of YA dystopian’s I’m just not aware of? Either way, kind of weird and silly, and not in a fun way, either. That was mainly only present in the first 100 pages though, which can be a tad slow, but after that, I really had a hard time putting this book down.
Ee has such a concise way of writing that things move so quickly once the action starts. I found it to be a treat for both a dystopian, and a YA book, both of which are genres that can suffer from just being overdone and unoriginal, but this series doesn’t suffer from any of that. The plight of Penryn is always personal. She’s still not out to save the world, she’s not a chosen one, she’s just trying to survive and keep her family together. Though her mom needs no help, seriously, she’s the cockroach of the apocalypse—impossible to kill and capture. Penryn struggles, she messes up, and all of her interactions with Paige just destroyed me. And leave it to Ee to make you kind of feel bad for one of the villains!
The author's writing was seriously a treat, but this book is surprisingly dark for a YA. There are some pretty disturbing images and gruesome scenes, more so than in the first book. So I’d classify this more as New Adult even though there still isn’t much language and no sex. There is still the romantic tension between Raffe and Penryn, but not as much as the first book however, just because Raffe isn’t around for so much of the story. I did miss him, his and Penryn’s banter is always a welcome piece of levity in an otherwise very dark world and storyline.
There were moments of sweetness, some happy reunions, and even parts that made me laugh out loud (Pooky Bear is the real MVP of this book, trust me, read it and you’ll know). But the part that I loved most, that stuck with me the hardest, was the relationship between Penryn and her sister, the pain and the guilt there was bittersweet and so, so powerful. It was incredibly well done and really pulls at your heart without being overbearing. So while this book is thematically and atmospherically much darker than it’s original, I loved that darkness and what it communicated, how it taught Penryn and how she grew from it. It was heart breaking, but in a good way, if that makes sense? So, given my love of this, my gushing of how much I love Penryn’s strength and even her awkwardness, is it really a surprise that this book gets all the stars? Even with the slow start and the odd dream sequences, the way this book had me feeling at the end made it an easy 5 star for me, and that’s really saying something! But now the real struggle begins: do I read the last book and find out what happens ASAP? Or hold off because I am also not ready for this series to end…
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