Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Release Date: May 21, 2011
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Feral Dream
Age Group: YA
Pages: 283
Buy the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (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.


Oh wow... from where shall I start?
I really wanted to like this book. I really expected to do so due to its very high rating on Goodreads. But all the way from the beginning the issues just started to pile up and eventually I just started to see negative things everywhere while reading the book.

Before starting to rant about all the things I did not like, I want to just say that I totally get why so many people have liked this book. The story is different from other YA books I have read and I guess for some Raffe is the total hunk - mysterious and handsome and so on. But I just did not feel the plot, Raffe or to be honest, anything about this book. 

I think the main issue for me about this novel was the lack of back story. The action just begins and Ee does not really take time to build the world or explain what has happened and why the characters are in the situation they are in. I get that angels have come down to earth and brought havoc with them, but WHY? I know the book is from Penryn's point of view and the information the reader gets is what she knows, but leaving so many of fundamental questions unanswered feels like taking the easy road when it comes to writing and world building. I know the following books in the series probably engage in world building as well, but I personally would have needed more information NOW in order to become interested about the series as a whole.

Other major issue I had was the fact that I did not really feel anything towards the characters. At points Penryn is extremely brave and resourceful, but when it comes to the most important questions (why the angel's are there etc.) she does not really question them that much, at least not out loud, because she does not want to give a certain type of picture of herself to Raffe. Also I get that she wants to do everything to save her sister, but since there really isn't any established back story, I did not root for the whole mission because I did not know much about Paige. Yes, she is in a wheelchair, but other than that, I was not really able to feel sympathy for her. I feel like Penryn's mother could have been such an interesting character, but for some reason I feel like she was just there to make Penryn seem like a stronger character - if the mother would be healthy she would probably take responsibility. Also, I have to write this down even though I am no expert on matters like this: it seems like the mother is a total nutcase, pretty much abusing her children etc. So how come she has been staying home til the apocalypse? You would think that a person like that would be institutionalized. Once again a little more world building/establishing the setting would have helped - is this kind of behavior common? Is the society not interested in it? And it is mentioned that the father left, and I guess the reason for that is the fact that the mother was so crazy, but the fact that he left and the children stayed with the mother does not really say much about the father either. But since neither, the condition of the mother and the leaving of the father, were properly discussed, I did not feel sympathy for the girls because of these things. It almost feels like the mother was written the way she was just to add some shock value to the story. I do not flinch upon gory details and events, and I really "liked" for example the part with the little girls and the cannibalism and such, but I feel like those did not do much for the story either and were there just to add more shocks etc.

Also, when it comes to Paige, I felt like she was the most unrealistic character of the whole bunch. She is described as a complete saint - vegetarian and the friend and cheerleader of all the crippled children. And she is only seven years old. I get that she was hurt and that her childhood probably was not the easiest one, but I feel like Ee somehow uses that as an excuse to make her look like a little mother Teresa. I have been seven years old myself and I have witnessed a lot of family members being seven years old. And let me tell you, they were all selfish sometimes and they all complained sometimes. 

I think the writing style as well as the building of the story can be linked to the lack of character establishment. Angelfall is full of action (it almost feels like the whole books is a one big climax) and this takes away from the building of the characters and their personalities. Because Penryn and Raffe are constantly on the move and escaping from something or someone, they do not really get to know each other properly and because of that I did not sense any chemistry between them. Raffe is supposed to be this hot, sarcastic angel, but when he jokes it feels like Penryn does not really respond. I guess someone might see the exchanges between them funny, but I just mostly found them awkward. I think the main issue with writing for me was the lack of dialogue - the book is quite descriptive, and mostly just Penryn's thoughts similar to something like "maybe it is a squirrel... or a deer... or a snake" - the emphasis is put on details that do not really matter that much. The ending of the book just gets so ridiculously action-packed that is hard to follow what is happening and to whom. 

I think I will next rant some more about the angels. I get that they are powerful and such, but when talking about their weapons, only swords are mentioned. When Penryn talks about the outlook of San Francisco after the apocalypse, she compared it to way the city looks in the pictures taken after the 1906 earthquake. 

As you can see from the picture, pretty destroyed outlook. I wish Ee would have taken time to tell the reader how the city became to look similar to the one in this picture. Fires and such are mentioned, but those probably were not started by swords. The lack of explanation about the motives of the angels just keeps bothering me. 

As I have mentioned before, I know a lot of people have completely loved this novel and I do not want to hurt the feelings of any of those people. I just wanted to be completely honest and tell my opinion about this one. I know I might have been too observant when it comes to certain things (I had notes also about the TV watching habits of the angels as well as the coloring of them etc.) and there are things I did not even mention in this review that I did not really like. 

As you can probably guess, I won't be picking up the second part of the series. 


  1. OMG, you really didn't like this book but guess I understand when you don't connect with the characters and there is this hype so a bit of pressure to like the book. :P LOL, I actually bought this book in hardcopy and now I'm scared lol but we do have some different tastes I think so maybe will like it anyway. ;) Great honest review! But 1 star? Damn. XD

    Lola @ Hit or Miss Books

    1. I feel like I was expecting so much from it and when I realized that I was not feeling it, I just started to look for all the negative things from there. I am definitely in the minority with this opinion, so don't worry too much and give it a go - you might end up really liking it.
      I was thinking of whether I should publish this review for a long time, but I think honesty is the way to go. I first considered 2 stars, but since I categorize that as "just okay", I decided to go with 1 star since I did have quite a difficult time to getting through this.

      I hope you like it though when you read it! :)

  2. I'm surprised you didn't like Angelfall, but not every book is for every person :)

  3. I simply have to say that it's funny how reading tastes vary...but...I loved this book. I read the second one immediately and I preordered the third one...I loved them!

    1. Yeah, I find it extremely interesting too - my friend loved this one and continuously talked about which made me curious to read it. She still loves it (I think she wasn't the biggest fan of the following books though) whereas for me it just wasn't anything special.

      Thanks for stopping by! :)


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