Angelfall exceeded my expectations! The way Susan Ee took the story surprised me - and I loved every part of it. The world-building was phenomenal, and the writing exceptionally detailed. The protagonist’s journey allows the reader to experience this new, post-apocalyptic earth, and the difference between “World Before” and “World After” is really emphasized here. The author was not afraid of delving into the unknown or grotesque, and that was a huge hit for me!
The world-building was by far my favourite part. Every aspect was exceptionally detailed - I could imagine the empty buildings and the deafening silence. I saw Penryn wincing at the noise their family’s shopping cart makes along the abandoned streets. As well, the dialogue was on par. The novel starts some weeks after angels have descended onto Earth, so like Penryn, the reader is witness to how humans are adapting to this world of death, destruction and god-defying acts. I find it significant the author started not when earth is semi-peaceful, but after humans have gotten over that initial shock and are now returning to that primal urge for survival. This is more evident in the fact the author decides to begin the story when Penryn and her family are leaving their apartment - basically their life in the “World Before” - and starting anew.
I thought the plot was stable. Different points are made to the reader that Penryn would only venture into the Lion’s Den for her sister. At the time of her sister’s capture, their mother also disappears so the choice is seen here. Penryn loves both her mother and sister, but her decision is based on who needs who. Penryn’s relationship with her mother was deep and intriguing. The two’s interaction with each other provided a lot of insight on other characters, and made everything all the more dimensional.
Raffe is introduced in the beginning of the novel as an angel betrayed by his kind and saved by Penryn. Raffe then agrees to bring Penryn to where the angels are holding her sister. It’s clear these two are to be potential love interests, but romance is a secondary plot and moves at a realistic speed. Once they reach their destination it’s every person for him/herself - Raffe needs the angels for his detached wings and Penryn for her sister. Near the end, circumstances have Raffe grieving for Penryn, but the level of grief [which was high] I found unrealistic as the two had only 1-2 times visibly expressed their feelings for one another - although there was a lot of glances.
The author dived right into the more grotesque of subjects that are sometimes absent from YA novels. Particularly characters of physical and emotional flaws with a high chance of permanency. I found this made the world-building all the more solid - Susan Ee is creating a world that is new and cruel and only the strong can survive. The characters should represent this “World After”. The use of angels as a theme has been made truly original with the type of world Ee has constructed. I am excited to read the sequels, World After and End of Days. Susan Ee is a talented writer and I am eager to see what she plans to write about next.
I was provided a free ebook via Net Gallery in exchange for an honest review.