Review: ‘Angelfall’ by Susan Ee

Blurb from GoodReads: 

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.


I had high hopes for this book, as it has been so hyped on GoodReads, with a ton of 5 star reviews. However, I hadn’t really read much about its plot, and didn’t realize it was quite so dystopian in theme. I thought it would have more of a feel of Laini Taylor’s (amazing) ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’- fantasy mixed with theology mixed with humour, romance and diversity. Instead, this gave me  present-tense narration, an urban after-the-apocalypse setting, and a society that has (kind of literally) gone to Hell. Angels are the bad guys, but the humans aren’t much better either. I warn you- this book is DARK. And gory. Dead bodies get defaced, angel wings get sawn off, people get beaten up. Food is scarce. Crime is rife.
 (SPOILER) Penryn’s mother is a paranoid schizophrenic, who crippled her own younger daughter, Paige. ‘Demons’ speak to her- she has to make them promises. She also forced Penryn to become a martial arts expert in case she hurts her, too. Reading about Penryn’s mother was NOT easy going. I kind of liked Penryn though- she was tough, quick, resourceful and independent, and the fight scenes were good, although I didn’t like the clearly-predictable romance between her and the wingless angel character, Raffe. Raffe seemed like a bit of a jerk at times.
There was also NO context or explanation as to why the angels had dominated Earth- even 50 or so pages in. Parts about Raffe’s ‘magical angel sword’ just felt…blah. Like it had been done before.  Despite the present tense narration, at times it also felt very dull at points. (There was a lot of Penryn and Raffe eating scavenged pot noodles, for example.) Whilst I admired Penryn’s determination to get Paige back from the angels who had kidnapped her, this book just wasn’t for me. It was too grim and bleak, and I felt the whole angel-human thing was a bit predictable. The humour didn’t do much to lighten it for me. I would recommend this book only to people who are accustomed to thrillers, action books, or zombie-themed YA. The writing was good at points, but this just wasn’t my thing.


Overall rating: 2 out of 10

Read if you enjoyed: ‘Divergent’ by Veronica Roth

This book in four words: Urban. Gory. Dystopian. Bleak.


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