We are finally here – our first review is officially live! As you have probably gathered, we have decided to do our first review on Susan Ee’s Angelfall, the first of her Penryn and the End of Days trilogy. As a one off we will be doing this as a team effort, sharing our own thoughts on what we have collectively agreed is a new YA favourite among us.
Okay so I have to be honest, I first read Angelfall when Susan Ee first published it independently in 2012 and fell in love with it immediately. Since that date I have re-read it on THREE different occasions. That’s sad, I know.
The first was after having to wait a year for Susan Ee to release World After. I think I had convinced myself that it wouldn’t be anywhere as good as I remembered it, but nope, Susan really was as talented as I first thought. The second time was when I begged my friend to read it, and she did – but only if I did with her – and let’s be honest, that didn’t take much persuading. The third time was when I re-read the trilogy after the final book was released, nearly three years after I had read the first book! So from my point of view this review will not hold any initial reactions, just three years worth of fan-girling alone in one blog post. Be prepared!
I generally consider myself a sane, mature adult… With only occasional bursts of mild insanity. HOWEVER this book seems to bring out 14 year old me that believes in rainbows, fairies and, most importantly, prince charming. My favourite element of the book has to be Penryn. As a now 19 year old, I find it nearly impossible to find YA or NA books that have complex, brave and interesting female characters – or of any gender really – and this is where I think Ee really delivers. Penryn in her description is vague, but I think Ee really creates a strong character that you can get behind from the first page. Although Penryn is 17 in the books, this didn’t detract from her character as her maturity levels were much older and therefore I still find myself relating to her in some aspects.
My second favourite element is obviously Raffe. I mean. I just. Mmmmm… He spoke to my 15/16 year old heart, and he speaks to my 19 year old heart. The tension between them is clear, and Ee from the beginning makes the budding relationship between the two explicit but unlike other YA stories, I didn’t find it overwhelmed the story at all; in fact I think it made it far more interesting which is what you want a love interest to do. I hate it when you read other novels and you find yourself shouting at the main character for making ridiculous choices. I never find myself doing this with Angelfall – even at the end when Penryn is more brave than sensible.
For me this book will always be a 5/5.
I was cautious when I was encouraged (coerced might be a better word) to read this YA novel. I am not one for girly romance. But, I admit defeat; I liked it. A lot. It had the perfect combination of action, intrigue and a smidgen of romance. The best part of all? No love triangle! Ee gets brownie points all round. While it would not be suitable for the very young teen, it can talk to the hearts of teenagers… And twenty somethings…
The book is every teenage girl’s fantasy. Well, apart from the more unsavoury moments. Insanity, mutilation and cannibalism isn’t something you would normally find in a teenage novel. I found Penryn a likeable character who is doing the best she can at keeping her family alive. The fact that she could hold her own in a fight is what probably made me warm up to her; if she had not had those skills I would not have been able to get past her idiotic moments that almost always lands them in deep water. Raffe is the embodiment of perfection. As we are told, a lot. While a flawless male love interest normally doesn’t hold my attention, his wit and personality won me over and my heart broke a little at the end (warning: you may cry). Paige is her young, innocent little sister caught up in the arms of war. She is what drives the book’s plot forward and Penryn will do anything to have a chance to get her sister back, even if that means siding with an Angel. My heart hurt a little bit when she is found again. In the later books it hurt even more. As Penryn’s mother hasn’t been mentioned yet I’ll introduce her; bat shit crazy. That’s all you need to know. I rather enjoyed this character as she was so different and I loved how she followed Penryn along, but she’s normally in the background, doing some crazy stuff. I thought she was quite amusing, but many may be disturbed by her.
The first book is just the start of the plot and as the trilogy continues it becomes increasingly interesting and darker. Although some gruesome things are depicted, it’s in a way that you don’t need to dwell on it. Unfortunately, as we are English students, we did. What we found was a twisted world that was fascinating. And it only gets better. I loved the books because of the darker elements, the diversity of the characters and how it wasn’t just a cutesy novel for girls.
I’m going to start by making a teensy tiny confession: I stopped reading Teen and Young Adult fiction once I started A level as I had my eyes opened to the Classics and begun to think that anything that wasn’t written in the 19th Century wasn’t worth reading… Pretentious, I know. That brings us to one day last week whilst on half term from university. Thanks to Katie infecting me with her passion for YA (well done for making reading sound like an STI, Sarah), and seeing as I had a week off (I didn’t feel bad for reading something for my own pleasure rather than something I’ve had to read for my studies) I was enticed into reading this manageable novel. I trusted Katie’s judgement and kept in mind the old adage that there can’t be smoke without fire! I didn’t have high hopes for a self-published internet sensation, but I soon learned the true value of the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover”! (Although Katie would argue that the cover of Angelfall is very pretty…)
Well, let’s just say, this novel had me hooked from page one! Firstly, the writing style is very different from what I am used to encountering – it would be an insult to say it is basic, which it isn’t, but it’s certainly refreshingly accessible, shall we say. This was a definite pull for me as it was nice to be able to read a book without working too hard and stumbling over heavy, unnecessarily complicated language!
Secondly, I am such a sucker for romance, and so as soon as it became clear to me that the relationship between Penryn and Raffe was becoming more than it first appeared, I was so happy and it had me squealing like a twelve year old! The scene where Raffe first appears is devastatingly exquisite, and even though he’s an angel and up until now we’re told that they’re to be feared and hated, I felt there was a connection between him and Penryn (and by extension, him and myself). I thought that, for some reason, there was more to him than we might expect. I knew (or rather, hoped) right then and there that they would eventually become an item – the forbidden romance element is a good old classic plot device, but one that never fails to pull at my heartstrings!
Unlike Katie, I wasn’t deeply enamoured with Penryn as a character. I’ll admit, part of that was due to my jealousy of her being the love interest of Raffe instead of me… But in general, I found her quite irritating, especially when she kept on making awkward blunders with Raffe and constantly getting herself into trouble and therefore endangering my beloved Raffe who always ended cleaning up in her wake of recklessness. I realise that this is a significant part of the plot that drives it forward and adds suspense, etc, but nevertheless, I found myself shouting at her quite a lot and wishing I could take over from her, thinking I could do a much better job. On a slightly more positive note though, it was hard not to admire her bravery and sheer loyalty to her loved ones, a point which it turns out did not escape even Raffe’s attention by any stretch of the imagination. The end really did break my heart. I also liked the way in which she developed a certain tactic when it came to dealing with Raffe who, I’d be lying if I didn’t say, is quite a handful. But what do you expect from a disgraced angel, not accustomed to ways of us mere mortals?
It is very fair to say that thanks to this novel, I am well and truly a born again Young Adult fanatical fangirl and I wholeheartedly agree with Katie when I say that this book is utterly and undoubtedly a 5/5 and I absolutely cannot wait to get around to reading the sequels!
We all hope you enjoyed reading our reviews of this marvellous book – we very much enjoyed our debut and look forward to bringing you many more reviews and insights into a variety of books in the future!
Lots of love, The Parliament Xxx