Review of Angelfall by Susan Ee
Posted by Sam Whitehouse
I was reluctant to read Angelfall, by Susan Ee. Maybe it was the angel part of it, or that I thought it would be heavy on romance and not gritty or action-packed enough. Man, was I wrong. Angelfall is a gripping book that delivers as much action as a Rick Riordan novel.
The story starts six weeks after angels have come to earth, invaded it, and slaughtered a big chunk of the population. As is now obligatory with YA fiction, the story is narrated through first person present tense. But the first person voice works well for this story. Penryn is a tough character, not dissimilar from Katniss Everdeen. She’s spent years training to be in peak physical condition. She knows how the handles knives and bows. It’s a shame Ee turns her into a typical character when the romance kicks in, but up until that point she’s a tough protagonist.
The romance was a part of the plot, so for readers who enjoy that it’s present, but Ee luckily doesn’t make it the sole focus of the story and instead delivers a rescue plot that is filled with some great action set pieces and moves at a rapid pace—for most of the novel at least. There are some odd dips in pace, and it jars the momentum at times. But for the most part, the characters don’t stop moving as Penryn tries to find and rescue her sister.
The world building was confusing and vague in places, and I still don’t have much of a clue why the angels came to Earth. The ending offers some clues, but not enough and it means this feels like the first half of a book—but there are two sequels so I’m guessing things will develop.
The pacing, creatures and tone reminded me of a Percy Jackson novel in places but Angelfall is darker than the PJ series and more twisted in places. The ending offers some creepy, disturbing descriptions and sets some dark plot arcs up for the sequels.
The writing style is sharp for the most part. Ee doesn’t waste time with unnecessary descriptions and the pace benefits from it. Penryn’s voice is witty and sharp—until the romance kicks in that is.
Overall this is a solid first instalment in what looks to be a great trilogy. The ending is literally explosive and rounds off an action-packed beginning and middle, even if it does feel somewhat incomplete. For anyone worried this would be romance-heavy and something like a Disney movie, I can reassure you it’s pretty much the opposite. The world is gritty and harsh, and there is plenty of action, violence and horror. Sam Raimi (director of the original Spiderman trilogy and The Evil Dead) has purchased the movie rights, which should give you some clue to what this book is like. I’ll definitely be reading the sequels.