An interesting dystopian novel that suffered from less-than-great writing.
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 Raffe, an injured enemy angel. Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco, where Penryn will risk everything to rescue her sister and Raffe will put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.
I’ve actually had this book for over a year, but I never picked it up. I’ve been in a phase where I don’t really want to read dystopians, and there didn’t seem to be anything special about this book. I’ve seen some positive reviews for this series, though, and I was in the mood for books with fight scenes, so I finally picked it up.
At first, I wasn’t sold. The whole evil-angel premise wasn’t terribly original, and the set-up reminded me of the Angel Burn series (which I love, btw, go check it out if you haven’t read it). I was disappointed that it wasn’t more unique, and the plot took a little while to get interesting.
I enjoyed Penryn’s character from the start. She was simultaneously stubbornly sarcastic and kind of awful at insults—(sort of) a unique combination for a YA heroine. I loved that there was a logical explanation behind her having taken a ton of self-defense classes (her mom’s paranoia). Her love-hate relationship with her mother was fascinating, and her love for her sister was palpable. (The whole mom-with-schizophrenia thing was really interesting, adding a lot of awkwardly funny-but-sad moments to the story.)
Raffe had his own quirks. He definitely fit the brooding male mold, but he also had a humorous side that caught me off guard. I wish that we had gotten to know more about his character in Angelfall, but he is a pretty reticent character for most of the book.
The plot of Angelfall is semi-free form. Basically, Raffe and Penryn agree to travel north together to get Raffe back to his home and to help Penryn rescue her sister. Most of the plot comes from the various things they encounter on the road, as well as their developing relationship. As far at plots go, it wasn’t the most gripping or well-paced one in the world, but it was a good framework for their budding romance, and there were enough fight scenes to keep me on edge. I wanted to keep reading to find out where the plot would go next, and it ended up going to Creepytown. Seriously, the climax of the book was so creepy and amazing and GAH I need the next book!
It took me a surprising amount of time to get on board with the Raffe-Penryn romance. It wasn’t until the climax of the book that I really started to feel their bond; before that, their relationship seemed more like a random crush than anything deep. Possibly with better writing, I would have felt Penryn’s affection for Raffe earlier, but it doesn’t really matter, because by the last pages, my heart was breaking over their relationship.
My biggest problem with this book is the writing. Honestly, it was bad for a lot of the book. I am honestly frustrated, because this could be a new favorite book if the writing were better quality. As it is, I kept getting distracted by the awkward sentences and telling (as in not showing) of Penryn’s emotions. Side characters were cliche, and nothing about the world building struck me as new or surprising (until those creepy scenes at the end).
Also, a lot of the thing that happened in the plot were overly convenient. Like, inexplicably convenient. In a post-apocalyptic world, it is ridiculous that certain items they found would have been left in people’s houses. Again, I expected more from the author, and the story would have been stronger if certain plot holes had been sewn shut.
Angelfall is pretty good. I wasn’t amazed, but I also didn’t DNF the book. The ending was a great cliffhanger, and I really want to read the second book. The prevalent good/evil conflict with the angels was intriguing, and I want to know more about the angel politics. Honestly, I wish that the last quarter of the book had been stretched out to be half of the book, and that some of the beginning had been trimmed down.
Have you read Angelfall? What did you think? If you’ve read the rest of the series, does it get better?