Angelfall by Susan Ee. ★★★
Angelfall is a YA novel that takes place six weeks after the beginning of the apocalypse, when angels began attacking the world. I don’t regret listening to it, but it did fall into many pitfalls of the YA genre.
Penryn is out on the streets with her wheel chair bound sister and schizophrenic mother when they see an angel getting attacked by some other angels. Penryn’s sister accidentally draws their attention, and they take her before leaving. Desperate to get her sister back, Penryn carts off the now wingless angel who was the victim of the attack to convince him to help her.
I wouldn’t have read Angelfall if it hadn’t gotten good reviews from a couple of reviewers I follow. At this point I’m tired of all the YA dystopia and post-apocalyptic books and how they all feel the same. I also don’t care for the focus on romance and tropes surrounding it that I see crop up in these sorts of books. While the romance subplot in Angelfall never derailed the main plot, it did fall into tropes and make me roll my eyes more than once. It is abundantly clear that Penryn is going to end up with the angel Raffe, who has that added “bad boy” appeal of being in a group trying to kill all the human race. Oh, and he’s also shirtless for a good hunk of the book, because that’s how these things go, I guess. The narrative constantly describes how attractive he is. His voice is described as “husky” at least twice. I felt like I was being beat over the head with descriptions of how blue his eyes were. As a result I was mildly irritated for numerous sections of the book. As a character, I don’t think we’ve seen much of Raffe besides snarky, brooding, hot guy. I certainly didn’t care about him.
Penryn has plenty of admirable traits, but she feels like a protagonist I’ve seen before. Her motivation is saving her little sister (hello, Hunger Games). She doesn’t know she’s beautiful, but of course she is. She’s a starving, waifish teenage girl with amazing fighting powers, although this one is actually justified for once by the fact that she’s been training for five years. While I can think of reasons I should like Penryn, I find her largely forgettable.
Skip this paragraph if you don’t want spoilers, but I’m not sure about how the disabled characters were handled. For one, Penryn’s little sister no longer needs a wheel chair at the end. The schizophrenic mother… I’m not sure how much she moves beyond “crazy” but that could be the fault of the book’s abysmal character development.
I’m also not sure about how Angelfall treated the female character’s besides Penryn, who had shades of “Not Like Other Girls” about her. The mother is the most common reoccurring secondary female character, but see above. The younger sister exists to be rescued. The two other named female characters are both mean girl stereotypes who are described as blond and super attractive. Penryn gets in a mud fight with one of them (after she flirts with Raffe), for negligible plot reasons. I hope these two characters become more fleshed out in the sequels, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Not to sound all negative, I did think the final section of the book was better than the beginning and middle. There were finally glimpses of world building! I started to care more. The ending almost makes me want to read the next one, but my gripes with other parts of the book make it unlikely.
I should note that while Angelfall uses Christian mythology, the book itself isn’t religious or pushing any sort of Christian message. One of the angels even says he’s an agnostic. Whether this is a positive or a negative to you, know it going in.
Concerning the audio book format, I had no issues. The voice actress did a fine job, and her voice was easy to listen to and understand.
I know I spent most of this review complaining, but for what it was – fluff – Angelfall was alright. I’m probably not going to read the sequel, but if you want something entertaining to pass the time you could do worse.