Angelfall by Susan Ee Book Review

Angelfall is the first in a series of young adult post-apocalyptic fiction where world destruction has been caused by an army of warrior angels. This novel was a Cyblis Award Nominee for Fantasy & Science Fiction but its popularity truly spread by word of mouth. The first book in the Penryn & the End of Days series, Angelfall became a GoodReads favorite in no time, and eventually became a bestselling series. I was wary of getting into a “hyped-up” series, but the reviews were true. I absolutely loved it. Amazon Children’s Publishing | Hardcover | 2012 (first published in 2011) | 283 pp

The story begins with teenage Penryn and her family getting ready to be on the move. It’s been six months since the end of the world by killer angels and they have no choice but to leave their family home in search of food and safety. It’s just Penryn, her younger, wheelchair-bound sister Paige, and her batshit-crazy mother. Penryn is the one who must maintain control. Before they can reach the relative safety of a less populated area, angels fall from the sky.

Penryn witnesses an angel’s wings being ripped off by the others in some act of punishment. Before they can sneak away, they are noticed and Penryn has no choice but to act. She tells her mother and sister to run/wheel while she tries to aid the fallen angel as a distraction. The rouse partially works, but Paige is taken by one of the angels.

With Paige gone and her mother nowhere to be found, Penryn takes the fallen angel to a safe building and tries her best to heal him. It isn’t an instant friendship, but they come to an agreement. His name is Raffe and he wants his wings sown back on. He agrees to take her to the Aerie (the angel stronghold in San Francisco) and help find her sister since she helped him stay alive. But he isn’t promising anything. She’s just another “monkey” to him.

There are so many unexpected surprises in this book – so many things to love.

First is the batshit-crazy mother. She isn’t just daffy or eccentric – she really is clinically insane. She’s terrifying and simultaneoulsy hilarious. She’s always been terrified of demons and has an obsession with parents who have killed their children because “the devil made them do it”. She even made a sweet little scrapbook about it featuring all of the grisly newspaper clippings, and then left it open on the kitchen table. When Penryn saw it, her mother asked her if she was still taking her martial arts classes. Penryn, assuming that her mother was responsible for Paige’s “accident”, never missed a class. On top of that, her mother always seems to be one step ahead of Penryn in the journey, and people are terrified of her, but we aren’t told why. Oh, what fun the imagination has with this character!

Second is Penryn. Like many YA novels that feature strong young women, Penryn isn’t trained in the first part of the story to become some badass. She already is. She is trained in several forms of martial arts to protect herself from her mother – as it’s implied. She’s courageous and loyal, and when her sister is taken, she’s going to do anything she has to in order to get her back, even make a deal with the enemy. And she never cowers.

Third – it unexpectedly veers into H.P. Lovecraft-style horror. The angels, in some sort of mad scientist scheme, are operating on children, and turning them into terrifying, stitched-up little monsters. It blew my mind.

There are other little unexpected delights: the 1920’s style of clothing and music preferred by the angels, the difference in appearance of angel wings, and agnostic angels. Yup – agnostic angels.

Angelfall is riveting, shocking, unputdownable, and breaks the mold of traditional YA fantasy. I can’t recommend this one enough. I’m off to the second book!

 

Angelfall is the first in a series of young adult post-apocalyptic fiction where world destruction has been caused by an army of warrior angels. This novel was a Cyblis Award Nominee for Fantasy & Science Fiction but its popularity truly spread by word of mouth. The first book in the Penryn & the End of Days series, Angelfall became a GoodReads favorite in no time, and eventually became a bestselling series. I was wary of getting into a "hyped-up" series, but the reviews were true. I absolutely loved it. Amazon Children's Publishing | Hardcover | 2012 (first published in 2011) | 283 pp The story begins with teenage Penryn and her family getting ready to be on the move. It's been six months since the end of the world by killer angels and they have no choice but to leave their family home in search of food and safety. It's just Penryn, her younger, wheelchair-bound sister Paige, and her batshit-crazy mother. Penryn is the one who must maintain control. Before they can reach the relative safety of a less populated area, angels fall from the sky. Penryn witnesses an angel's wings being ripped off by the others in some act of punishment. Before they can sneak away, they are noticed and Penryn has no choice but to act. She tells her mother and sister to run/wheel while she tries to aid the fallen angel as a distraction. The rouse partially works, but Paige is taken by one of the angels. With Paige gone and her mother nowhere to be found, Penryn takes the fallen angel to a safe building and tries her best to heal him. It isn't an instant friendship, but they come to an agreement. His name is Raffe and he wants his wings sown back on. He agrees to take her to the Aerie (the angel stronghold in San Francisco) and help find her sister since she helped him stay alive. But he isn't promising anything. She's just another "monkey" to him. There are so many unexpected surprises in this book - so many things to love. First is the batshit-crazy mother. She isn't just daffy or eccentric - she really is clinically insane. She's terrifying and simultaneoulsy hilarious. She's always been terrified of demons and has an obsession with parents who have killed their children because "the devil made them do it". She even made a sweet little scrapbook about it featuring all of the grisly newspaper clippings, and then left it open on the kitchen table. When Penryn saw it, her mother asked her if she was still taking her martial arts classes. Penryn, assuming that her mother was responsible for Paige's "accident", never missed a class. On top of that, her mother always seems to be one step ahead of Penryn in the journey, and people are terrified of her, but we aren't told why. Oh, what fun the imagination has with this character! Second is Penryn. Like many YA novels that feature strong young women, Penryn isn't…

This is one crazy read

My Rating

5 Stars

I love it when a book shocks me. I love the unexpected. This one was all kinds of: "WHAT????"

100


Rebecca Skane

Rebecca Skane is the self-instated editor-in-chief for the Portsmouth Review. She holds a Bachelor of the Arts degree from Lawrence University in Wisconsin and resides in Portsmouth, NH with her husband and two children. She is the founder of The Portsmouth Book Club which boasts over 1,000 members. She also doubles as a professional escapist. Her genres are scifi and fantasy, both adult and young adult - but she often reads outside of her preferred genres. You can follow her on GoodReads.


  • Liz @ Planet Print

    So glad you enjoyed Angelfall! I’m a huge fan of this series, I love the creepy/horror aspect of it as well. And all the characters are absolutely brilliant. I hope you like the second and third books too – it’s such a great trilogy!

    • Thanks, Liz! I only wish I had got to it sooner. I can’t believe how much I loved it.

  • Oh yay, so happy you read this one! I loved this one so much because of Penryn’s bravery, and how unique her mother was. While she had some obvious issues, she managed to also bring lightness to some otherwise dark scenes. I hope you like the second one!

    • Thanks, Amber! I am jumping on the second one tonight. I love to read a series straight through.

  • Oh I enjoyed this one as well. I’m just missing the last book for me to finish the series. Hope you enjoy the next book as much!

    • Thanks, Melissa! I actually have all three which I’m very excited about. I hope you get to finish the series as well!

  • I’ve had this book on my TBR forever. I had a couple of people tell me I needed to read it. I can’t believe I still haven’t read it!

    • Yes, read it! I am so happy that I did. I was worried I would be let down like other hyped-up books, but I certainly wasn’t let down this time around!

  • I’ve heard so many good things about this book! Your review makes me want to pick it up right now!

  • I’ve heard a lot of great things about this book, and have it on my TBR, but you especially make me want to read it asap! I’m glad to see how much you enjoyed it.

  • It sounds fascinating and what a cover! I’m always nervous about hyped up books, too, but awesome to hear it’s well deserved in this case 🙂

  • This one is on my TBR, so I’m glad to see you enjoyed it! Definitely bumping this up on the to-read list now 🙂

  • The fact that this book breaks some traditional YA mold intrigues me! I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it!

    Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles

    • You. Have. No. Idea. Out of nowhere, you turn a corner and wham – the author smacks you with a huge WTF pillow.

  • Gosh, I absolutely need to read this one! I’ve owned all three novels for the longest time, so it’s embarrassing that I still haven’t gotten around to reading them with all the hype and praises the series has received in the community. Glad you enjoyed it!

    Veronika @ The Regal Critiques

    • Thanks, Veronika! I have a feeling you might be reading this one soon if you already have it. Happy reading!

  • This book has been recommended to me sooo many times! I definitely need to get started on the series! I’m glad to hear the book was unexpected and awesome 🙂 Great review!

    Uma@Books.Bags.Burgers.

    • Thanks, Uma! So many unexpected happenings. I was so thrilled for this one to be as dark as it was. Hope you get to check it out!

  • I’ve never heard of this series– but it sounds really interesting! I am fascinating by the premise of killer angels. Plus, it sounds like there is some great room for character development. Added to my TBR.

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