Angelfall by Susan Ee


Goodreads: Angelfall
Series: Penryn and the End of Days #1
Source: Netgalley
Published: May 21, 2011

Official Summary

It’s been six weeks since the angels of the apocalypse destroyed the world as we know it. Only pockets of humanity remain.

Savage street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night.

When angels fly away with a helpless girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back…


Angelfall captivatingly blends angelic myth and apocalyptic scenarios to result in a book that is nearly impossible to put down. A strong heroine, noble hero, and unrelentingly urgent plot guide readers through a world ridden with chaos and a few bright spots of hope. Most other angel books cannot compare.

Admittedly, Angelfall begins a bit slowly. The prose is clunky, repetitive and sometimes too self-aware. The post-apocalyptic elements, the decrepit town where gangs rule the street and no one can go out at night, seem unremarkable and familiar. Then the angels come, and everything changes. Penryn doesn’t just have to face street gangs with guns; she has to befriend one of the enemy and go on an epic quest to save her little sister. Whether the prose also improves at this point or its awkwardness is just less noticeable as the plot of the novels picks up, I can’t say for certain, but suddenly the story seems fresh. Even as other tropes of the genre pop up—the rebel alliance, the streams of people seeking haven in large cities—Ee manages to put a supernatural spin on them and make them new again.

Penryn is a particularly well-drawn character for this genre. She isn’t just harsh and she isn’t just disillusioned. The end of the world scenario has certainly toughened her, but she has always been tough and bears the trait well. And beneath that, she has a genuinely good heart, which seems like just the right thing if you’re going to have to deal with angels. Raffe is a great companion for her. The two work well together, a true team, and there’s just enough romantic tension in the novel to make readers swoony and leave them hoping for more in the sequels.

The cast of side characters is equally nuanced, including the kidnapped younger sister, Penryn’s mentally unstable mother, and a whole rebel army. I admit, however, I can do without the twins-who-are-perfectly-interchangeable trope. Seriously, they call themselves Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, which is absurd enough, but eventually they just get called Dee-Dum because, you see, when you’re dealing with twins it doesn’t actually matter which one you’re talking to; they’re just the same person anyway. This is pretty insulting to twins and I do wish it would stop being portrayed in media as cute or the norm.

Parts of the backstory could also use more explanation, but the plot is so engrossing this is practically unnoticeable until the story is over. Then the questions—Wait, how exactly did angels take over the world? And when?—start coming to light. I’m hoping more of this will be answered in the sequels because, as in-depth as Ee describes the present-day world, it all seems a bit hazy when you can’t tell yourself a complete narrative about how it came to be that way.

In the end, however, Angelfall stands out as an imaginative and captivating take on both post-apocalyptic stories and on the angel/supernatural romance. I’ve seen a lot of hype for this book, and it really deserves it.

2 thoughts on “Angelfall by Susan Ee

  1. DoingDewey says:

    Wow, this sounds much better than I expected. I think when this came out, I felt as though both the angel thing and the post-apocalyptic thing were being overdone, so I wrote this one off.


    • Briana says:

      I thought I was over the post-apocalyptic fad, too, but this one still managed to keep my attention! It’s a little bit like Pure by Juliana Baggott in some ways, with the combination of horrifying things the character’s see and the hope they manage to maintain. Maybe that helps it.


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