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REVIEW: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Dear Ms. Ee:

I am pretty sure I bought that at the recommendation of has_bookpushers on September 6, 2011, (according to my Kindle records).  But like many a book, it languished (or was lost) in my to be read pile.  Internet chatter about this book rose up and I pulled it out to read.  Okay, I actually went to buy it at $.99 but I was told by Amazon I had already purchased it.  I started and read non stop until the last page.

Susan Ee AngelfallPenryn lives in a post apocalyptic world brought on by the Angel Gabriel bringing war to the humans. Gabriel was destroyed in a flurry of return gunfire by the heavenly hosts are too much for the humans.  His body wasn’t recovered but the televised fight played all over the world as evidence that angels were not invincible. Humans have turned into refugees and lawless gangs rule the cities while everyone afraid of the dark.  In the dark, the angels come out or even worse – unknown terrors.

Penryn has made the decision that her insane mother and crippled little sister must move out of their condo because it has been marked for gang infiltration. They move out at night even though the night is so dangerous that even the gangs stay inside.  It is their only chance, or so Pen believes.  Pen makes a number of these decisions throughout the book. Some work out and some do not but each decision is backed by some thought so she never appears foolish, only not completely in possession of all of the facts.

In the midst of their escape. Pen sees a glorious angel with white wings attacked by other angels.  The white winged angel’s wings are cut off but he still fights on.  Spurred by some crazy compulsion, perhaps due to her own instinctive penchant for underdogs, Pen picks up his discarded sword and throws it at him.  In the ensuing confusion, one of the angels takes Pen’s sister from the wheelchair Pen is pushing her in.  Pen’s insane mother runs off.

Pen picks up the wings and demands the wounded Angel tell her where she can find her sister.  The Angel, Raffe, tells her that this is basically a suicide mission but what does Pen have to live for in this wasteland if she doesn’t even try.  Another calculated risk.  They don’t always turn out in her favor, but I admired her courage and her swift decision making. Pen is not a ditherer.

There are some worldbuilding flaws. Only six weeks have passed since the Angel Gabriel’s attack and death.  The post war seemed to be far too settled with its gangs and the established Angel aeries.  Technology has been totally destroyed to the point that some are using computers to form a brick like wall.  The complete hopelessness that seemed to have swept the land along with the abandonment of existing structures and technology came upon too quickly. I felt like the time that had passed from apocalyptic event to collapse was too quick but then again, how would Pen and Raffe be able forage for supplies in abandoned houses.

There is a mystery surrounding Pen’s mother that seems to be trotted out at only convenient times, providing strained coincidences. Raffe explains that the children of the angels and humans were unmentionable horrors yet there is not one nephilium that appears in the book.  Why was Raffe even on the Earth?  How did he get separated from the other Angels?  Why wasn’t he leading his men?  Some of those questions may be answered in a sequel, but I felt that they made the world building seem a little thin in areas.

Yet, these things are minor irritants in the larger captivating story.  Pen reminded me of Katniss, only more determined, less reluctant.  As for the romance, Raffie and Pen develop feelings for each other but it is low key and expressed in smart aleck exchanges.

We walk for about an hour before Raffe whispers, “Does moping actually help humans feel better?” We’ve been whispering since we saw the victims on the road.

“I’m not moping,” I whisper back.

“Of course you’re not. A girl like you, spending time with a warrior demigod like me. What’s to mope about? Leaving a wheelchair behind couldn’t possibly show up on the radar compared to that.”

I nearly stumble over a fallen branch. “You have got to be kidding me.”

“I never kid about my warrior demigod status.”

“Oh. My. God.” I lower my voice, having forgotten to whisper. “You are nothing but a bird with an attitude. Okay, so you have a few muscles, I’ll grant you that. But you know, a bird is nothing but a barely evolved lizard. That’s what you are.”

He chuckles. “Evolution.” He leans over as if telling me a secret. “I’ll have you know that I’ve been this perfect since the beginning of time.” He is so close that his breath caresses my ear.

Pen is represented as a teen but she could have easily been early 20s. She was an old soul, having been forced into responsibility early as the result of the death of her father and her mother’s insanity. I will provide this warning. The ending is a cliffhanger that takes a shocking turn. Ordinarily, I hate cliffhangers, but with this? All I can say is when does book 2 come out?  B+

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

35 Comments

  1. thetroubleis
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 10:52:15

    Penryn has made the decision that her insane mother and crippled little sister must move out of their condo because it has been marked for gang infiltration.

    May I ask how well or poorly the disability and mental illness aspects were handled? This sounds like something I might like, but I’m wary of disabled supporting characters at this point.

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  2. Jane
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 11:02:41

    @thetroubleis: Without giving too much away, I’m not sure how insane her mother is. I think what happens is that she acts, prior to the Angels coming, as if the family is in constant danger and she speaks of dangers that were unfamiliar. Her mother’s insanity is alluded to and played out in ways of instability and unpredictable behavior. It seems like it is part of the larger world building. The sister’s disability comes from a suggestion that her mother may have done something but nonetheless, the sister can’t walk. She isn’t in but a few scenes but I never felt discomfort. Pen doesn’t treat her with anything but respect and the implication that the sister is the best part of their family. There is something pretty horrible that happens to the sister though but to say more would really really spoil it.

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  3. Christine M.
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 11:39:52

    Rating?

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  4. thetroubleis
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 11:41:37

    Thanks, Jane, the further info is appreciated.

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  5. AmyW
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 11:46:03

    I’m not sure this book is for me, but that’s a very nice cover.

    It’s interesting you point out the time frame between the apocalypse and how society seems to have “settled” afterwards. I noticed the same thing myself in a few post-apoc books where the new society seems very established and the characters are so weary that it seems like years have passed since the end of civilization and later it’s revealed to be only a few months. What’s up with that?

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  6. Elyssa
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 11:47:15

    I loved this book, and I definitely want to read the next one. I wish it was out already! So impatient to see what happens after that cliffhanger.

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  7. Jane
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 11:48:59

    @AmyW: I think in this case, she wanted the characters to be able to forage for supplies? I don’t know.

    But in another scene, they are uses computer boxes to build a latrine wall and I thought, why give up on the tech so soon? 6 weeks? That’s like…I don’t know. We’ve been in Iraq for 9 years. I just don’t see us giving up that soon.

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  8. Jane
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 11:49:10

    @Christine M.: Sorry, B+. I gave it a high grade because there were things, particularly at the end, where I thought “whoa, I did NOT see that coming.” And I feel like the ability to surprise me in a PNR is something that is rare.

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  9. Christine M.
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 11:51:14

    @Jane: NP, I just couldn’t find it anywhere and I felt something was missing. :)

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  10. Courtney Milan
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 12:12:24

    I totally loved this book. For me, at this point, books basically fall into one of two categories: “Made me forget I was an author,” and “couldn’t shut my brain off and nitpicked everything.”

    This book made me forget everything when I was reading it. It was one of my first reads in 2012 and if I’d read it in 2011 it would have been in my top 5. It was memorable, different, well-paced, snarky, emotional, and it kept me guessing.

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  11. Janine
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 12:30:04

    I bought this when Has put it on her Best of 2011 list and I really need to read this. Merrian also posted on the “Ghost in the Machine” thread that readers who liked Hancock’s novella might like Angelfall.

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  12. MarieC
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 12:32:20

    Great review, especially for a self published book! and for $.99! even better!

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  13. Christine Rimmer
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 12:48:05

    This looks good. I clicked right over and bought it. I did love the Hunger Games and remembered the books longingly after I read them. I even sent a link for this to my DIL, who loved the Hunger Games, too. I am a sucker for any well done post-apocalypse girl hero story.

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  14. becca
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 13:07:54

    first person present tense? gah.

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  15. Has
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 13:11:17

    I LOVED this book so much. I have read quite a few YA dystopians which rarely hits the mark because of weak world-building or the emphasis on the romance which overshadows the plot or the premise. But Angelfall had one of the best engaging heroines I have read and I loved how the twists and turns was unexpected. I also didn’t expect the author would go there and didn’t shy away from really dark decisions. I am glad you enjoyed the book! :D

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  16. Quynh
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 13:16:38

    I got sucked into this book too, even though I also questioned the speed at which the entire world was thrown into total chaos. It’s the fearlessness in writing that I admire most. The author does not protect her protagonists. You’d think that Rafe gets his glorious wings back…Ha! or Penryn’s little sister gets a happy reunion…another Ha! I hate post-apocalypse books, but this one I highly recommend.

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  17. Faye
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 13:54:49

    Agh! I bought it and read it and loved it and now I desperately want nothing more than the next book.

    I read Hollowland by Amanda Hocking earlier this week- another first in a series, free or $0.99, post-apocalyptic, kick-ass teen heroine searching for her younger sibling, and also really well done. Just substitute zombies for angels, and make the love interest a lot less tough than the heroine.

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  18. Isobel Carr
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 13:55:39

    Maybe it’s because I grew up reading SFF, but the world building problems led me to DNF it. I just kept getting kicked out of the story by WTF moments. Amazingly, the first person present tense didn’t drive me insane though. That aspect was really well done.

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  19. Kate Hewitt
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 14:24:45

    I just finished this and really enjoyed it, but I agree with you the world-building was a little thin. I wanted more info upfront about what had caused the angels to attack, how people had responded, etc, because it was all alluded to on the fly rather than ever really dealt with. I also felt like you this should take place more than six weeks after the big event. Everyone is starving after six weeks, in California? Wouldn’t there still be crops in the fields, grocery warehouses, even your own pantries? I bet I could eke out the food I currently have in my house for a month if I had to.

    This book reminded me, just a little, of one of my absolute favorite books as a kid, The Girl Who Owned A City. It was written in the early 80s and is a forerunner of all these post-apocalyptic teen girl kick-ass books. Recommended, although it has a bit of a philosophy lecture feel at parts.

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  20. lian92
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 17:31:23

    I may be wrong but didnt Penryns father leave them. I didnt read to the end but Penryns releshunship with Paige seemd to Prim Katniss esque for my liking . And to be honest im a bit tired of the little child in danger books i have a nasty feeling writers are triying to monipulate me and i hate that . Aren there a differrent way to make a maine heroine likeble.

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  21. Merrian
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 19:20:00

    @lian92: You need to read to the end because there is rescue and then there is what happened to Paige. This book takes risks with the story and characters that others do not.

    I am finding the comments on the world building interesting because for me the things that are not spelt out are part of what we wouldn’t know anyway – no one in a world like this can have complete knowledge. I do agree about 6 weeks being too short a time for where people have settled emotionally and practically. I think the things with the mother and the scrapbook stories are foreshadowing for the next book(s) and what we have glimpsed about the angels and how they operate needs to unfold. I know I have my suspicions about what Penryn is and want to find out if they are on the mark. I think there is a huge amount that Raffe doesn’t know and he has to find out.

    I like apocalypse stories and I love the emotion in this one – a thing that is often missing in the grinding horrors that people endure in this unraveling worlds of the post-apocalpyse

    Angelfall is in best book 2011/12 territory for me.

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  22. Nicole
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 23:01:12

    Angelfall sounds fascinating. I just started Bloodring by Faith Hunter, and although I’m finding the angel element interesting, I’m having the hardest time getting into that book at all. Maybe I’ll put that one down for a bit and see how I feel about Angelfall, which I just bought. All of these positive reviews and a price that won’t cause me guilt already make it a win for me.

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  23. lian92
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 23:49:59

    yeah I aleredy heard what hapend to Paige sounds like another monipulation . If a book needs to rely on a tragedy hapening to a kid it sort of means that thers nothing much more going for it, ofcourse ill try reading it though it depends on how large is the cleafhanger. I hate it when a story is left hanging in the midle , but i usualy try to stay away from books that use kids for shock value. I woud realy like to read a book where heroism comes from something more then saving inother sibling . Unfortunatly most books i read latly had the plot revolve around that exactly .

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  24. statch
    Jan 15, 2012 @ 08:39:45

    I don’t read YA or post-apocalytic fiction, and I don’t really care for series about the same character, but something about the review made me buy this one, and I’m so glad I did. I read it in one sitting last night, and will be looking forward to the next one. The first person present tense really worked for me once I got used to it. I thought the violence would bother me, but it was so well woven into the plot. I loved the author’s writing style. I normally don’t like sassy, spunky heroines, but Penryn’s character was wonderful.

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  25. Sweeney
    Jan 15, 2012 @ 22:20:09

    Agh!! This book was soooo good. Bought it this morning just finished it now at 11pm. Needless to say we had pizza for dinner, this is my high water mark for a great book. Book 2 feels like a long time from now.

    And just a secondary thought but my last two favourite books have both been self published. Space in His Heart, Roxanne St Claire and now Angelfall. LOVE self publishing successes!

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  26. Megan
    Jan 19, 2012 @ 23:55:30

    Loved loved it.. can’t wait for book 2..

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  27. lian92
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 05:43:13

    Im still a bit hesetant to read it but if you read Battle royal is it any more violent than that , cause BR didnt bother me much.

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  28. Jane
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 08:52:37

    @lian92 I haven’t read Battle Royal but I didn’t think it was worse than Hunger Games.

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  29. Yaretzi Blunt
    Jan 29, 2012 @ 06:25:05

    Major thanks for the post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Great.

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  30. lian92
    Feb 15, 2012 @ 07:49:44

    Sorry just read your anser i read it and i t is qiut different from HG in my opinion ,i guess its better when a heroine does things to save her sibling instead of geting in trouble for selfish reosons. If you like horror books you woud probebly injoy Battle Royal.

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  31. Angelfall by Susan Ee | Janicu's Book Blog
    Feb 23, 2012 @ 09:49:18

    [...] (Katiebabs & Kmont) – Part 1, Part 2 (positive) One More Page – 4 stars (out of 5) Dear Author – B+ Escape In a Book – 4 (out of 5) The Happy Booker – 5+ The Book Pushers [...]

  32. Lilliane19
    Apr 09, 2012 @ 07:02:42

    This was the best out of all the angel books that I’ve read! The plot was so original and romance wasn’t cheesy at all, this book literally kept me up for several nights!

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  33. Brian
    Aug 30, 2012 @ 11:11:15

    If anyone’s an audiobook fan, Angelfall is now available at Audibe (as of 8/28/12).

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  34. jaredean
    Aug 31, 2012 @ 14:22:19

    Just wondering if there are any questionable parts in the book i should be aware of…my 11 year old daughter loves these kinds of stories, but I want to know what is in them before suggesting it…anything sexual or explicit or language issues?

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  35. MoviesBooksandMore
    Feb 15, 2014 @ 01:16:28

    I simply loved “Angelfall”. It was intense and racy. I particularly enjoyed the conversations between Penryn and Raffe. I actually finished the book in ONE WHOLE DAY, not a day more or less.
    :)

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