Friday, 25 April 2014

Angelfall, by Susan Ee

4 stars

You can usually guarantee that when you pick up a book starring angels, it's going to be lame. As such, and having bought Angelfall for less than a quid, I came to this with seriously low expectations (seriously. After nearly suffering an aneurysm through violent eye-rolling when reading Hush, Hush, and even starting to think that Anne Rice was shit while reading Angel Time, the bar had been set so low you'd have had to start digging to find it). I settled back, relaxed, and prepared to snark and snigger my way through...only to find myself tearing through the book in two sittings with nary an eyeroll and harbouring a secret regret that I'd spunked away book money on the rest of the disappointing Divergent series and therefore wouldn't be able to justify immediately buying the rest of this to my despairing boyfriend (who has just spent months decluttering our flat and could really do without more books already, thank you).

Penryn is a teenage girl in a post-apocalyptic world - one that's been annihilated by angels. It seems Judgement Day has been and gone and the human race been found wanting. In the aftermath of the devastation, survivors not only need to avoid the uber-violent angels still patrolling the skies but human gangs and scavengers too, as well as trying not to become one of the growing number of bodies found gnawed upon by teeth that aren't those of animals.

Penryn is already something of a survivor - she's had to be. With a paranoid schizophrenic mother and a disabled younger sister, Penryn's long taken on the responsibility of taking care of her family. She's also taken virtually every type of self-defence class imaginable, signed up by a mother terrified that Penryn could be the subject of an attack by her own hand. This is going to come in handy from now on, especially after her sister is abducted by angels. To track her down, Penryn must form an unlikely alliance with the angel Raffe, saved by Penryn after being attacked by his own kind and left wingless and dying in the street.

Building a brilliant post-apocalyptic world that doesn't shy away from being horrific when it needs to, starring a heroine that's feisty and funny and lacking inexplicable powers, and a take on angels that I really appreciated (these aren't beings of aching goodness but a bunch of dicks, who amusingly aren't really even sure God exists but would jump off a cliff if Gabriel told them to. Not that jumping off a cliff would affect them in any way what with the wings and all, but you get the drift). There's no insta-love and, although the central relationship between Penryn and Raffe is clearly building towards something more romantic, it's a slow-burner that doesn't feel the need for constant melodramatic pronouncements as well as managing the astonishing feat of only making me 'ugh' once.

Well played, Susan Ee, well played!

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