Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Book Review: Angelfall

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. Quoted from Goodreads


This is the exception to the rule, the book that laughs in all the other books faces, a dream within a dream.  Okay that last line was from the Princess Bride and sounds more like Inception than this book, but still, Angelfall is amazing.  Why?  you ask.  Because it was self published and about angels.  

I know!

I've read self published books before and most of them are a smoldering mess of, well, primordial goo probably comes closest.  Many of them have potential but they needed an editor, and a lot of them really needed someone to just say no.  They weren't ready to be thrust upon the world. 

Then there's the angel thing.  While I loved the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare (which hardly counts) and let's face it, Unearthly by Cynthia Hand is unparalleled and magnificent, the angle genre is full of mediocre books.   Luckily this was not one of them.

Let's start with characters.  Penryn is a kick-butt heroine, no question.  She is smart, emotionally stable, focused, keeps her priorities straight, and has been taking all sorts of self-defence classes since she was five---to protect her from her mother.  Yes, her mother suffers from schizophrenia, and in one of her more sane moments, signed up her daughter for all sorts of classes because she was afraid she might kill her.  Isn't this sounding delicious already?  The author gives us a seventeen year old girl with a crippled, seven-year-old sister, a crazy, demon seeing mother, and a father who abandoned them a year before. Then Susan Ee destroys the world just to give poor Penryn something to do.

Okay, this also sounds a little bit like Hunger Games.  In truth, it kind of is.  Not the plot.  From here on out it is completely different, but the hope amid violence, the fight for survival, and amazing characters are the reminiscent.  After I finished Hunger Games, I recommended Blood Red Road and Divergent to anyone who wanted something similar.  This would be right up there with those books. 

Then there's the relationship with Raffe (pronounce Rah-fee).  I love enemies working together, unsure how far trust goes, and the slow build up towards friendship. This is the thing: they both have goals and those goals aren't sunk in a sea of raging hormones.  There are soooooo many obstacles between them, but the little hint at romance was wonderful, and I can't wait to see what happens in the next books. 

As for the world, I found it delightfully creepy.  Things happened that made me cringe, but there is also hope and humor.  My only problem is that the world ended, basically, only six weeks before the beginning of the story.  I admit, millions died and chaos reigns.  I get that.  But everything seems more like the world ended years earlier.  I mean, they were eating cat food at one point.  Plus, I'm a little confused at the Angel's motivation for what they did and lack of a clear hierarchy, but I'm hoping those questions will be answered in the next book.

Now for the writing.  This is going to be hard for me because unless the writing is horrible or beautiful, I don't pay much attention.  In most cases a three or four is probably better than a five, because a five draws more attention to the words themselves, distracting from the story.  So as far as writing goes, I'm going to give this book a 4.  The writing was good.  It creeped me out and gave me hope; was show, not tell; and easily let me follow the action of the characters in rich, vivid detail.

As for whether I liked this book, it should probably be obvious by now. 4 stars all the way.  Give me a month or two and it might even hit the five star mark.  This is an excellent book, and like I said before, the exception to the rule with self published books.  In fact, you should all just buy this, because it's only $2.99 right now at Amazon. It's not out on Nook yet, but it is only $3.60 online at Barnes and Noble for the paperback. Now, what to do with my time until the second one comes out . . .

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