29 February 2012

Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall Bookplate

It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back. Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel. Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl. Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.
Angel books, they are so difficult to review. This one is especially hard. It had great pacing. It’s the kind of book that picks you up in the first chapter and you just can’t put it down until you get to the end and even then you want more. I loved how the plot slowed at just the right points to keep the reader wanting more, and sped up when it needed to but not so much that it left the reader behind. The climax is particularly well paced, with a series of mini-climaxes that hit at just the right spots. Even the cliffhanger ending is so well done that I’m not as mad about it as I am about some books. There is obvious resolution and yet also an obvious need for the characters to continue the story. The character development works well, too. I identified with Penryn almost immediately. She is resourceful, tough, and loyal to her sister. It is a little hard to contrast with her relationship to her mother, but I can see how her mother’s illness and history with Paige has made their relationship more strained. However, my major issue with this book is with the angels. Raffe is fully fleshed out as a character, but he doesn’t fit into the angel mythology. It’s very hard for me to believe that beings who are without sin can curse or be agnostic or be as aimless as the angels in the story. Even without the voice of God to tell them what to do I can’t believe that angels would go on a killing spree. And it is with the angel mythos that the worldbuilding fell apart for me. The angels just seemed too human, with human motivations and politics and pettiness. It’s as Penryn thinks in the book "The thought of superhuman beings with human temptations and flaws sent a chill through me." But angels are supposed to be different from humans. They’re not supposed to have human temptations and flaws. If Ee had claimed the angels were actually alien beings directed as an army and their communication with their home planet was cut off I think the story would have worked out. However, Ee takes all the angel mythology as it is and just takes out the part where angels cannot commit sin. For me, taking all the mythology as true except for one part and never mentioning why that one part is untrue just doesn’t work. If something is discarded from myth then it needs to be explained somehow. I’m sad that it wasn’t, because this was a really, really good book but that flaw ruined it for me. However, I will pick up anything that Ee writes and devour it because her writing is so superb, but it may be me over in the corner pouting and grumbling about angel mythos.


  1. I'm not to sure about that whole thing that angels can't commit sin. After all, Lucifer was once God's most beloved angel and a third of the angels fell with him. That's where I get a bit confused. If they don't have free will, how did they choose to follow Satan? Very odd.

    1. I see it like humans in heaven: they don't sin because they've had their chance and chose not to. Angels had their chance, and the ones who chose became demons, but they no longer have the choice. The book of Enoch is not canon but it's fascinating when you're talking angel lore.