Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Angelfall by Susan Ee: A Book Review
The genre is Post-Apoc Urban Fantasy, I suppose, with a marked supernatural element. Written in the first person present tense ("I pull on my favorite boots... I also slip sharpened steak knives into Paige's wheelchair pocket."), usually I balk at this type of style, but it is done well here. I usually prefer third-person so that more than one POV can be written, broadening the scope of the story and character development, but in this case, FPP works out well enough.
The story is told from the perspective of Penryn, who is a "resourceful teen" along the lines of Katniss in The Hunger Games. Penryn also has a younger sister, Paige, who is wheel-chair bound, due to an accident she had at age two, caused by their schizophrenic mother. The father bailed on them a year or two before, leaving the three of them to fend for themselves, and not long after that, the world slipped into devastation, as an army of angels invades the earth, laying waste to the cities of the world and killing billions of folks, and then setting up shop on the earth, to hold it, awaiting further instructions from Heaven. God has had enough of our nonsense, apparently, and has sent His crew to knock us down a few notches.
So it's a post-apoc survivalist story on one level.
From the outset, Penryn, Paige and their nutty mom are trying to relocate from their home to a place that might provide better protection and food, and so they try to make a run for it through their neighborhood, avoiding the angels patrolling above, and the random street gangs patrolling the ground. They are outside when a group of angels appear, chasing and fighting one of their own. After they defeat the angel they are chasing, they cut off his wings and leave him to die. Before leaving, one of the huge warrior angels spots Penryn and her sister. It decides to swoop down and grab Paige on the way out, flying off with her. Distraught, Penryn decides the only way she'd be able to rescue her sister is to try to prevent the defeated angel laying in the street before her from dying, so he can tell her where Paige was taken.
So it becomes a quest/buddy/travel story as well.
The story is an easy, fast read, and the characters are somewhat shallow (except for Penryn) but well-enough-drawn. There are many unexpected surprises, as far as who the angels are, what they are really up to, and what their weaknesses might be, as well as surprises about the angel Penryn saves and teams up with, as far as who he is, what his particular beliefs are, and what he plans to do now that he has been "kicked out" by his peers. Perhaps you've never given much thought to angelic politics before, so you might enjoy this.
There is a lot of action, but very little offensive language, and no adult nonsense - I wouldn't be surprised if the author has a Christian background. There are a couple plot holes, and some predictable turns of events, but for the most part, it was a great read. I'm tempted to include more detail, but I wouldn't want to spoil it for you, should you wish to read it yourself. You can grab it for $1.99 for your Kindle, should you wish.
Technically, it is "Book One" in a proposed series, but it works well as a stand-alone, with all of the more immediate story elements resolving themselves well. A couple of the Big Picture story elements are left for future volumes. I'll likely read the next in the series when the time comes. Oddly, there is another series called "Angelfall" by a different author (an S.E. Foulk) that has nothing to do with the book I've reviewed. That may cause confusion should you try and track this book down.
Summary: 4/5 An enjoyable, quick read, somewhat limited because of the first-person POV, but well worth a read if you like survival/post-apoc/supernatural/angelic stuff. It gets a bit creepy toward the end, but resolves itself well.