End of Days by Susan Ee

End of DaysInformation

Goodreads: End of Days
Series: Penryn and the End of Days #3
Source: Library
Published: May 12, 2015

Official Summary

After a daring escape from the angels, Penryn and Raffe are on the run.  They’re both desperate to find a doctor who can reverse the twisted changes inflicted by the angels on Raffe and on Penryn’s sister.  As they set off in search of answers, a startling revelation about Raffe’s past unleashes dark forces that threaten them all.

When the angels release an apocalyptic nightmare onto humans, both sides are set on a path toward war.  As unlikely alliances form and strategies shift, who will emerge victorious?  Forced to pick sides in the fight for control of the earthly realm, Raffe and Penryn must choose: Their own kind, or each other?


End of Days is a stunning conclusion to Ee’s trilogy.  The past two books take readers across California and into various lairs of the angels—their parties, their labs, their dungeons.  End of Days takes readers farther than ever before, to new exciting settings and the heart of all that is happening in this action-packed adventure.

There are some sparks of romance and sexual tension in this installment, just enough to keep readers interested and on the edges of their seats wondering what Penryn and Raffe will have to give up in order to stay together.  I have seen other readers complain the romance is not enough, but I think the focus is perfect.  For once, someone has written a post-apocalyptic book where the heroine is actually more concerned about saving the world than about whether she is going to kiss a cute guy.  Penryn knows what is important: saving her family, saving lives, and saving Raffe’s wings whether the two of them have a future together or not.

Penryn has been going steadily questioning what her role in the post-apocalyptic world is going to be, and in End of Days she finally comes into her own.  She may not want to be a hero, she may feel like she is a hero—but she can be a hero.  Watching her grow and accept the weight of responsibility because so few other people will is quite beautiful.  The other characters continue to grow, as well.  Readers get new perspectives on Paige, Penryn’s mother, and even some of the baddies.  Some of the heroes are quite unexpected.

The book’s one flaw—and it is a fairly large one—is that some of the most important questions of the series remain unanswered.  I will avoid specifics, so as not to spoil too much of the book—but a lot of about the angels and their purposes is still unknown.  Worse, the characters drop the topic whenever they feel a modicum of safety.  Their world was destroyed, no one knows why, and apparently it does not matter if you think the world will not continue to be destroyed.  The danger has passed, so it does not matter what caused it?  Personally, I ended the book with a large feeling of emptiness and dissatisfaction.  The journey was glorious, but the destination is barely worth it.

World After by Susan Ee

World AfterInformation

Goodreads: World After
Series: Penryn and the End of Days #2
Source: Netgalley
Published: November 19, 2013

Official Summary

When a group of people capture Penryn’s sister Paige, thinking she’s a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mom is heartbroken.

Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. Why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels’ secret plans where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go.

Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can’t rejoin the angels, can’t take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?


World After is a fantastic contribution to the Penryn and the End of Days series. Susan Ee shows off her writing chops by crafting a story that is exciting, moving, and dangerous even while the love interest readers have come to adore in the first book is absent for most of the plot. Although protagonist Penryn would love to have the protection of Rafe and his comforting presence, she shows she is more than capable of handling herself—and caring for her family—in a broken world.

The stakes for Penryn and her world are actually higher than ever in this installment. The resisters to the angel occupation thought they had pulled off a brilliant and devastating attack in Angelfall, but it turns out that they had destroyed very little and understood very little of the angels’ real plans. Penryn, Rafe, and the rebellion are suddenly faced with enemies more dangerous than before and prospects bleaker than ever. Ee keeps the story from becoming too dire, however, by using the dangerous to explore what it means to be a hero and if Penryn has to make the choice to act like one.

Penryn certainly grows along with her ever-growing responsibilities. She must tackle whether it is enough to save her sister, whether she should save everyone else as well, or if she even can. The other characters also get a lot of development in this book, however, including Rafe and Penryn’s mother and sister. Paige suffered terribly from the experiments performed on her in Angelfall, and coming back into human society may not be enough for her to recuperate. Penryn’s mother must come to terms with how much she, broken herself, can be held responsible for protecting her own daughters. And Rafe is still torn between obligations to angel commands and his own sense of ethics.

This means the romance between Penryn and Rafe is still up in the air, and I love it. Their relationship is not just frowned upon; it is absolutely forbidden, and consummating it in any way will have dire consequences. I love not going how this all will play out, and being torn between whether I should be rooting for them to get together, or hoping that Rafe should stay true to the commands from his God.

World After, all at once, is thrilling, romantic, and thoughtful. I can’t way to finish the journey with Penryn and Rafe in book three.


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.

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

HallowedGoodreads: Hallowed
Series: Unearthly #2
Source: Purchased

Official Summary: For months Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn’t prepared for the choice she had to make that day. And in the aftermath, she discovered that nothing about being part angel is as straightforward as she thought

Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

In this compelling sequel to Unearthly, Cynthia Hand captures the joy of first love, the anguish of loss, and the confusion of becoming who you are.


[Spoilers for the first book in the series, Unearthly]

Unearthly captivated me with its strong plot, real romance, and beautiful depiction of angels.  At the time I wrote my review, I called it “the best paranormal romance I have read.”  Unfortunately, Hallowed floundered and failed to live up to the expectations Hand had built for me.  In the acknowledgements she writes that “This book was like riding a bucking bronco to write,” and I am unconvinced that she managed to get it completely under control.

At the beginning, the writing itself is somewhat rocky—and this was the first aspect of the novel I thought of when I read Hand’s statement.  She appears to have had some difficulty getting back into the swing of writing. Clara’s voice does not sound real to me here, and she seems painfully awkward even interacting with close friends, making a number of flat jokes that I do not remember being part of her personality from Unearthly.  Things eventually get smoothed out, but I had to power through several hundred pages to see it happen.

There is also something of a dearth of plot.  At the end of Unearthly, Clara believes she has been unsuccessful in fulfilling her purpose.  In Hallowed, she mopes about it.  This is a very contemplative and explanatory novel, rather than an action-filled one.  Clara essentially walks around pondering whether she did fail in her purpose, what that means, what she should do about it, etc.  These are all important questions, but the exploration could be a little more interesting.  The book seems to be in as much of a rut as Clara.  If she did miss her purpose, well what?  Is that just it?  Life goes on?  Ok.

The romance is almost worse. The love triangle is taken to such an extreme that Clara has few romantic moments with either Tucker or Christian.  Mostly, she agonizes.  She wonders whether she should be with one or the other, who she is supposed to love.  This feels very author-contrived to me, a ploy to make the “suspense” last throughout the trilogy.  Personally, I would have loved to see more of why Clara likes either boy.  Christian does get a few more chances to prove his worth here, but there is still the idea of his being Clara’s purpose that makes the romance ring a little false, at least to me.  If Clara does end up with Christian, she needs to fall in love with him a little more in Boundless, and not just with the idea of him.

Essentially, I found Hallowed very slow.  In many places, it was just filling in necessary information about the world of angels or being actual filler to tide readers over until the third book.  I was dying to read Hallowed after I finished Unearthly.  Right now, I feel I can wait for the paperback of Boundless.  A fine book, but not a gripping one.

Has the series changed?  Or have my personal reading tastes changed?  Let me know what you thought of Hallowed in the comments!

Published:  January 2012

Marked by Kim Richardson

Goodreads: Marked
Series: Soul Guardians #1

Summary: While on her way to a very important art competition, Kara Nightingale is hit by a bus. When she wakes up she is in Horizon, where she is quickly sent to train as a guardian angel with the arrogant but charming Petty Officer David McGowan. The job does not come without its dangers, but Kara and David have more than their share. High-ranking demons keep showing up on their missions, and chances are they are connected to Kara.

Review: Marked could be a mildly amusing read for someone with the right sense of humor, but nothing more. From almost the beginning, things in this book are just strange—and it appears to be that way solely because Richardson had the freedom to do it. For instance, the elevators in Horizon are run by various types of monkeys that have a penchant for eating skin cells they grab from Kara’s scalp. There is no reason for this. Apparently Richardson thought it was funny. Similar elements are sprinkled throughout the story.

And although this book is about angels, even they do not strive for anything of higher quality. To start, they are not particularly angelic by anyone’s definition. Mostly they possess the same personalities they must have had while they were alive and human, arrogance and attitude and all. They even fight and have grudges. Basically, there is nothing related to Christianity here, besides an appropriation of names of levels of angels—cherubs, archangels, guardian angels, etc. In fact, there is even some sort of reincarnation at work in the world.

Kara and David are also disappointing, as angels and as characters. Supposedly they are both incredibly amazing at their jobs, but their actions leave a lot to be desired. They go on missions to save human lives with minutes to spare—and with absolutely no plan. When they succeed (and they tend to keep failing, ironically) it is pretty much by accident. Later, when Kara is entrusted with an incredibly special job by the Chief (God) himself, she displays her brilliance by running into a high-risk situation screaming “Stop!’ at enemies who outnumber and out-power her. Apparently sneaking in and using the element of surprise to attack never occurred to her. Yet everyone in Horizon believes she has the potential to become the greatest warrior ever.

The rest of the plotline is not much more satisfying. The “dramatic” moments either happen suddenly without any sort of buildup or come after foreshadowing that was a little too obvious. The conclusion only emphasizes the angels’ inability to make logical decisions. Where they think Kara will be safe is exactly where anyone else would suspect she is in the most danger.

Finally, this e-book was sprinkled with a number of typos and strange punctuation. Readers will encounter “cold” instead of “could” and “angle” instead of “angel.” There never seemed to be a comma after any nominative of address, and question marks were frequently used when periods should have been: “It tastes weird?” “I’m not sure what that means?” Poor editing can sometimes be overlooked in a good story, but this book was already struggling. A good copy editor will really improve Richardson’s opportunities to market her book seriously.

Marked strives to be a read that is entertaining, more than anything else. Readers with a similar sense of the absurd or amusing will probably appreciate Richardson’s quirky vision of Horizon. Readers without one will most likely be confused. Anyone expecting actual angels instead of normal teenagers tramping about the afterlife will be very disappointed.

Published: 2011

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Goodreads: Unearthly
Series: Unearthly #1

Summary: At age fourteen, Clare Gardner learned she was part angel.  Now, a few years later, she is beginning to discover what her purpose is.  Visions of a boy in a forest fire lead her family to Wyoming, where Clare hopes to befriend the boy and train so she can save him.  The other kids at her high school, however, are not entirely willing to accept her—except for one, who might be more of a distraction to Clare than a help.

ReviewUnearthly is the best paranormal romance I have read.  Clara is an almost perfect protagonist.  Being partially dorky but also pretty and a little bit popular makes her real and relateable.  She has teenage problems and sometimes freaks out, but does so without being annoying.  She is not quite a kick-ass heroine, but she is strong in her own quiet, steady way, and it is very inspiring.

Of course, Clara is not just a normal teenager—she is also part angel.  Hand portrays the paranormal mix in Clara well, as she feels drawn to her purpose and strives to be a good person so her wings can stay white, but she is not perfect and not at all preachy.  Being angelic is almost something she is supposed to achieve with effort and respect, not something that was thrust upon her so she is just cooler than all humans.  The concept of full angels is presented equally well.  They come across as strong and pure without seeming ridiculous or impossible, strong without seeming only supernatural and not divine.  Hand has captured the essence of her paranormal creatures in skilled, beautiful, and knowledgeable way that few other authors can claim.

The romance is also a very strong aspect of the book.  There is no “instalove” to be found here.  Sometimes there is a love triangle, but sometimes there is not.  Basically, Clara is drawn to different characteristics in different boys, just as any teenager could be, so the triangle seems like a real and plausible occurrence, not something the author forced upon readers for more “excitement.”  The love between Clara and the boy she finally chooses grows naturally and slowly, and when they finally come together the moment is truly beautiful.  As a bonus, Clara is able to experience it in a unique way because she is part angel.  More such moments are sure to come in the sequel.

The plot also will continue because (miracle!) there is a valid plot in Unearthly.  Clara is supposed to puzzle out what her purpose on Earth is, and then train so she can fulfill it.  In addition to the fact that this is simply a lovely thought, the concept is very engaging.  Watching Clara trying to figure it out is a bit like watching a mystery unfold—full of suspense with just a touch of action and maybe some more romance on the side. Some logic seems to fail other characters when it comes to Clara’s purpose (Apparently if she does anything else except meditate on her purpose she is utterly doomed to failure!), but it was not a major flaw.  And by the end of the book just enough questions are left open to keep readers wishing for Hallowed without leaving them completely baffled or dead from too much suspense.

Anyone looking for a romance with beauty and substance instead of characters kissing each other just because they can will want to pick up Unearthly soon.

Published: January 2011

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