This is good YA. There is a lot of YA out there, and I enjoy it, I even enjoy some YA that’s maybe…not great. I read the entire Divergent series despite having issues with it. I found it fun enough for light reading, but ‘Angelfall’ is fabulous YA. It made me remember why I like YA, why I enjoyed ‘The Hunger Games’ and Suzanne Collins so much. Susan Ee created a good young female for us to follow. She is strong, challenged, and doesn’t look for someone to save her. This doesn’t mean she’s and idiot and won’t accept it when available, but Penryn is a character I would want young adults to read.
Angelfall is about Penryn, her paranoid schizophrenic mother, disabled seven-year old sister, and the angel Raphael. There are some other characters but these are the core. Angels have come to earth and have ravaged it. Power is unreliable, food is rare, civilization, houses, and cars have been abandoned in the three months after the Angel’s arrival. How do you fight what humanity was led to believe is divine? These are not sweet cherubs. These are the warriors from the Bible. This is not dystopia: it is a Doomsday scenario.
The book starts with Penryn and her family evacuating. They stumble upon Angels fighting each other. As a distraction to give her family the best lead possible she tosses the outnumbered angel its sword. His wings have been cut off but still fights off his attackers. Penryn’s reward is a vengeful deserting angel plucking up her sister and taking her away. Penryn is responsible for her family and strikes up an uneasy alliance with the angel, Raphael, so she can save her sister. She leaves her mother to fend for herself. Susan Ee makes the point that at the end of the world the mentally unstable and paranoid are the most capable of surviving. I find this thought something repeatedly getting mulled over in the back in my mind.
This book passes the Bechdel test. There are female characters that don’t fit static stereotypical molds and exist outside their relationship to the men in their lives. Penryn is trained in multiple forms of martial arts and self defense. Her mother had a mental break and took out all their savings, due to her fears of the devil and demons, to enroll Penryn in every self-defense class she could find. This was the breaking point in her parents marriage. The money was to help Penryn’s little sister with medical for her paralysis. Her father snapped and left, and Penryn became the head of the household. She took her lessons seriously being witness to her mothers episodes.
She is a responsible young woman whether the position she has been put in is fair or not. Susan Ee, however, still represents her as a girl with the challenges that young girls encounter along with the ones that come with the end of the world. She is not an adult woman in the shape of a 17-year-old girl. This means there is still teenage language and written in a teenage voice. We are privy to her internal dialogue where she thinks about her awkward attraction but also acknowledges the reasons she can’t act on it. What person hasn’t had feelings they knew they couldn’t act on? This is an important lesson for anyone to learn. That being said, while I love and am impressed with this book, if your expectation is for an adult book in the form of YA, this isn’t it. This is YA fiction, enjoye it, but don’t make it something it isn’t
There is a question of romance: a forbidden attraction between angel and daughter of man. Penryn and Raphael deal with feelings of awkward attraction. Let me rephrase, Penryn deals and Raphael may be showing signs of attraction. Raphael, however, isn’t an ageless male paranormal that has a sudden epiphany that a teenage girl is the answer to his amorous desires and calls it love. In short, he is not an irresponsible predator…at least not yet. I praise Susan Ee for writing a responsible male character. Raphael is an accountable paranormal male instead of the love-struck vampire seen in a lot of YA. Put a pretty face on it, it doesn’t change that a 100-year-old/eons old being is taking advantage of a teenager. …Okay, I recognize I just went on a rant. I apologize. I will even admit I enjoy books that fall in this category. That doesn’t mean I don’t get uncomfortable or question what kind of problems we might be creating with the amount of literature published, geared to young adults, that makes having a relationship with older men not only acceptable but fascinating and tantalizing. (End of Rant)
I recommend this for people who enjoy good YA or are considering taking a foray into YA. Start with the good stuff so you don’t run from the genre screaming. I also have to say I enjoy Susan Ee’s take on Angels. They are not stereotypical. I’m impressed at her realistic characters you like even as you acknowledge their flaws. Enjoy it, I’m going to go pick up the next book. I am worried. The third hasn’t been written and after this book there will be no immediate gratification. Be aware before you start the series…