Tuesday 27 October 2015

Reviewing the Evidence - Angelfall by Susan Ee

Title: Angelfall (US Link)
Author: Susan Ee
Genre: angel, paranormal, dystopian, YA
Series: Penryn and the End of Days (#1)

A few starting notes:

This is a young adult angel book that's also dystopian - I'm talking the apocalypse. Hold on tight, there are some things to say here.


It's been six weeks since the angels returned to earth; the angels are not the friends of humanity. The angels are here to destroy everything.

Penryn Young is trying to help her family to safety. This is made more complicated when her sister, Paige, is kidnapped by angels. Penryn had to get her back. Add an injured angel to the mix, and you've got a whole lot of trouble.

Best bits:

This is original; the premise mixes the grit of dystopia with the otherworldly of angel books, creating something fresh. Written entirely in the present tense, the prose is sparse - something which I thoroughly applaud. Words are not wasted here, and I'm a big fan of short sentences with impact.

There is no insta-love - it's always awesome when relationships develop instead of erupt. In fact, despite the romantic subplot, I don't think the words 'I Love You' are ever spoken - another great point.

I'm also pleased that the author has attempted to add in some diversity of characters. True, I have some issues with the way both physical disability and mental illness are portrayed - which I'll discuss in the next section - but the very fact that Ms Ee has tried to include these characters in the book is a positive. I also love that the main character, Penryn, is a carer - complete with conflicting thoughts and self-sacrifice to a destructive level. Believe me when I say that there are not enough books that depict carers - let alone ones that paint a realistic picture. This does a half-decent job; and I know that Penryn's feelings and determination are very realistic for someone in her position.

Not so great bits:

I have some problems with the representation of physical disability and mental illness in this book. Paige, Penryn's little sister, is wheelchair bound; that is fine - what isn't fine is the pedestal Paige seems to inhabit. She's just not realistic; no seven year old girl is that saintly, serving only as an idealised damsel in distress for Penryn to rescue and feel responsible for. She needed to like, throw a tantrum, or laugh at the word 'booger,' or do something stupid for the hell of it. If someone is too good, they become unreal.

The portrayal of mental illness - Penryn's mother is a paranoid schizophrenic - is blunt at best. Penryn's mother is seen as little more than a liability - a potential danger to Penryn and Paige. She has very few moments of lucidity. Penryn (whose POV we are following here,) portrays her with a level of disdain that could do with some tempering. There just doesn't seem to be enough recognition of their mother as someone who has thoughts and feelings beyond the 'craziness' the plot calls for; and there's certainly not enough recognition that their mother is, in her own way, just as innocent as the saintly Paige.

This book gets gory. A lot. And a lot of people won't like that. There's also the aforementioned depictions of mental health. And there's a fair amount of stuff that wouldn't be out of place in a horror novel - including cannibalism. People of a religious persuasion may be offended by the part of the angels as cruel and arrogant creatures, many of whom have some pretty nasty things lurking in their pasts.


This is a page turner. There are some downsides, but over all this is fresh and thoroughly enjoyable.


  1. great review! I agree 100% THOUGH I have to say I perceived the same issues from a different angle :)

    1. Ha, I think I answered this over on Kristen's comment thread ;) <3

  2. This is one of my all-time favorite urban fantasies LOVE LOVE LOVE IT :)


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