It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.
Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.
Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.
Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.
It has been quite some time since I have read a book about angels – or any having any Biblical mythology, but it was refreshing all the same. Angelfall is an entry into the dark post-apocalyptic world created by the invasion of angels on Earth; it is anarchy and chaos and our protagonist Penryn just wants to keep her kid sister Paige and their mother safe. But the unfateful night that they set out for a better chance to survive is when she gets inadvertently involved in angel politics, as her sister gets kidnapped and she has to rely on an injured angel, Raffe, to get her back.
Now, the first half is fairly expected, with him and her trying to get to the aerie, the central base of the angels, while trying to lie low and not be discovered. Their relationships starts at odds, with lots of bickering and insults hurled and slowly they warm up to each other. However, in the second half, their attraction or whatever suddenly becomes intense, and though there was development before, it wasn’t enough to justify how much they come to rely on each other and how protective Raffe becomes about her. Look, I get he is supposed to be the dark brooding type, but the sudden strong feelings from his part did not feel organic.
But enough about the romance – my favorite part of this book might be Penryn herself. Girl is badass and trained in many different kinds of self-defense techniques thanks to a mentally ill mother who is off her meds. As for the mother, their relationship is complicated, seeing as it is reinforced by equal parts fear and love. On the other hand, she is very empathetic to her physically disabled little sister and well, other people who she feels being bullied. So despite her tough-as-nails demeanor and pragmatic mind, Penryn has a soft heart.
Moving onto the world – oh, that is richly imagined. It is dystopic for sure, but also has the fantasy element of the angels. The angel heirarchy is barebones – with archangels at the apex and the Watchers and Nephilim thing being part of the story. But still it is quite incomplete. Firstly, as this novel is from a human’s perspective, we don’t learn much about the angel world and their politics until like two-thirds of the novel. Raffe is notoriously cagey about details, and that means you, along with Penryn, are floundering about going WTF every few chapters. Even when things were somewhat explained, it still left so many questions. Why did the angels come in the first place? Another thing is the timeline – six weeks feels like too short a time for the angel host to establish and do all that they have at the aerie. Unless it has been going on for some time, but that is never explained either so I guess I have to wait until I read the next book.
As I read some part of it in audio, I would like to add that while the narrator does a good job overall and definitely brings the characters of Penryn and her mother to life very well, when it came to male character’s dialogues, I couldn’t help cringing. She was trying too hard to make it sound gruff but it just comes out kinda weird. But otherwise, a good job.
Overall, though, this series is dark and has the markings of things that I usually love in dystopic fiction. The addition of angels as antagonistic elements sure does pique my interest even more. And the pacing is good enough that I couldn’t keep myself away for too long. So, in summary, a fantastic start to the trilogy.