“I never thought about it before, but I'm proud to be human. We're ever so flawed. We're frail, confused, violent, and we struggle with so many issues. But all in all, I'm proud to be a Daughter of Man.”
Title: Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days)
Author: Susan Ee
Source: Purchased on Kindle
Buy it: Here
Angels have waged war on Earth, and humans are in the way. Penryn is 17, and is trying to navigate her disabled sister, Paige, and her mentally ill mother through San Fransisco safely, without attracting the attention of any of the winged men that have torn the city to the ground. When witnessing a bloody battle between opposing Angels, the family is caught in the middle - an Angel's wings are severed, and Paige is stolen by the battle's victor. Penryn's quest to save her is begun - alongside an unlikely partnership between enemies, and an unlikely protector in her mother's delusions.
Starting Angelfall, I wasn't sure whether I would like it. Angels seem like a subject that has a lot of potential to get a bit... preachy! However, I was quickly swept up into the narrative and embraced the books easy-to-understand world building. Angels, in Angelfall, are not the sweet and pious things you may imagine. They are brutal, warring monsters - beautiful and deadly - and humans simply stand in their way. I really liked this unexpected characterisation of "heavenly" beings and it was the first step towards a lot of unexpected delights along the way.
I found Angelfall also dealt with the varying states of human condition in the characters in a believable and sensitive way. Penryn herself is often stubborn and at times tunnel-visioned, due to being thrust into the role of provider for her family, which is fragile both physically and mentally, at such a young age. Her sister, Paige, is without the use of her legs owing to an accident involving her mother, who in turn struggles to show love for her daughters and suffers from hallucinations, outbursts of violence and speaks in tongues. There are not enough words to say how brilliant I found the treatment of these roles. Paige is strong, despite her disability, and their mother is unendingly loyal, if aloof and troubled.
Then, there is the Angel of the book, Raffe. He is humanised by the loss of his wings, and is bitter and impatient at being lowered to that of the "monkeys". Raffe finds him self in a tense cooperative with Penryn, as he trades his knowledge of Angels to help find Paige, and in return she helps him blend into the human world while he searches for a surgeon to reattach his lost feathers. Some of the best dialogues in the book were the quick witted and snide exchanges between Raffe and Penryn, giving way to some evident "frustration" as the story progressed ;) These conversations paced the story brilliantly towards it's action packed, surprising and shocking conclusion.
If I was to give one tiny negative about Angelfall, it would lie with Penryn. At the beginning of the book, I would be pushed to believe she was 17. Her voice felt a lot younger and some of her actions when around Raffe were quite immature. However, once the two of them had reached the centre of San Fransisco her character had changed to reflect her age and experience more, and I never gave a second thought to some of the more jarring passages from earlier in the book!
An unexpectedly brilliant novel, where nothing is what you would assume. It reminded me in parts of The Reapers are the Angels - but with more of a defined YA lean.