This is actually the second time I’ve read this book. Originally, I consumed it seconds after reading Angelfall. Ee left us with a painful cliffhanger and I’m not patient. The beauty of writing the review after reading it the second time is reflection, and the funny thing is the pieces I didn’t like the first time are the same ones I love now. World After is good. Ee was originally self published. It makes me that much more impressed that her books are polished. ‘Angelfall’ is unique and well written. ‘World After’ is just as good. Unfortunately, this wonderful genre has been saturated with lots of replicas of what made it popular. Finding something original is a breath of fresh air. I will recommend this even to friends who only love the grimmest of the Grimdark or the highest of the High Fantasy because this is what makes Young Adult amazing.
We open with Penryn paralyzed, thought to be dead, and deposited in the arms of her mother by a flying creature with scythed demon wings. Understandably, even the revolutionaries who knew Penryn are giving serious thought to tossing her over the side. That said, whose going to cross Penryn’s insane mother holding a cattleprod and a seven year-old growling science experiment. Once Dum and Dee weigh in saying not to touch “the living dead girl” all hope is lost. After all, DeeDum is hoping for Zombie mud fights. If you haven’t read ‘Angelfall’ I may have lost you. Bare with me. Angels have fallen to earth and have reaked havoc amongst Tsunamis and earthquakes. Mankind is no longer the dominant species. Penryn is in the Bay area with all the software engineers and no software.
Penryn found her sister severely altered by the Angels. Her vegetarian baby sister now has a mouth of monster teeth and a hunger for raw meat. Her uneasy alliance with the Archangel got her to the Aerie but he’s gone, and she is reunited with the rebels. Joining the human resistance isn’t what you would hope. The angels have turned our world upside down and what it means to be human has changed. Penryn and her sister are kept to be studied but they aren’t trusted. Penryn woke from the dead and what exactly her sister is hasn’t been determined. Another type of human monster has been created in Clara, the empty husk of humanity, left after the scorpion angels sucked her dry. That’s right they aren’t dead, even though most would prefer them to be. The walking husks are forced to live separately. How fickle we humans are, even faced with a common enemy we have difficulty seeing past our differences to unite. Everything and everyone can be turned into monsters. That goes for angels and humans.
This book highlights the fact angels are not in a war with humans. They don’t need to be. The great human attack on the aerie is an inconvenience. No angels died. Humans are an afterthought. Monkeys. Monkeys that don’t deserve enough consideration to be called an enemy. The angels have much bigger issues – each other. Gabriel is dead and Uriel is campaigning to be the new messenger. The attack on Raphael was peremptory. He is an Archangel, on earth for centuries hunting out the nephilim – the spawn of the unholy union of a daughter of man and angel, and a threat. He stands for the ultimate dedication to Angel law. Earth is caught in the unfortunate power struggle and political warfare. The twist is what you ignore can hurt you.
My first read of this book I was annoyed that Penryn was such a teenage girl. You read that correctly. She is infatuated with Raphael. She’s concerned about her appearance at the end of the world even if she hates the fact as much as we do. She runs haphazardly into plans without thinking and worst of all she called her archangel sword ‘Pookiebear’ and dressed it in a skirt and silly stuffed bear. It is blasphemy! It is also smart. Who takes a short teenage girl seriously? Who looks at a sword dressed in a teddy bear and skirt and is threatened? Who values a sword called ‘Pookiebear.’ No one, and that’s the point. Penryn isn’t foolish enough to think she can fight adult men let alone angels as an equal. She took years of self defense. When you are smaller than everyone else you use their weaknesses against them and you smile when they underestimate you. Yes, it bothered me Penryn was being a teenager, and girly, but after reading it again I loved it. We have a strong heroine who can still be infatuated at what she shouldn’t be. She isn’t ashamed to dress her sword in glitter if it means she can keep it. She can love her broken mother and wish she was more at the end of the world. No one is perfect in this story
Despite every author thinking they can write YA, and cash in, it’s not true. You have to think about your demographic. While there are many middle aged people reading it, it’s not solely for an adult audience and that is something young adult authors have to be aware of. Ee presents a non-perfect world filled with violence, mental instability, sex, religion, discrimination, disappointment, love, and loyalty in an honest light. It shows the good and the bad. She doesn’t preach. She creates strong flawed characters and allows them to learn and to fail. She lets us enjoy her characters for what they are. I’m pretty sure Raphael and Penryn are going to end in romance but I hold out hope that Raphael can appreciate Penryn, love her as a friend and family, but still recognize she’s a child. I know there are those of you have finished the series and can tell me the answer, but don’t…