Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, Book 1)

Angelfall  - Susan Ee Initial thoughts: Very well done. I'm almost sad now that I have to wait for the next book in this series to release. Penryn and Raffe are awesome, and there was a nice balance of humor, action, and tension throughout the story. I enjoyed it from beginning to end.Full Review:I think I probably should've listened around the time that all of my friends were reading and gushing over this book, because I wouldn't feel so left out gushing after finishing "Angelfall" by Susan Ee. This was a wonderfully written book with a fair helping of action, tension, romance, and intriguing character dynamic. The story doesn't pull any punches with respect to some of the striking imagery and brutality which the characters face in this dystopic contrast between humans and angels.It's not the first time I've read of angels behaving badly, but I didn't quite expect to be pulled into a story of desperation on the part of a strong, young heroine who fights for her family. Penryn wants nothing more than to keep her family together as she struggles to survive in a world torn apart and humanity struggling to make ends meet. But when her young sister, Paige, is taken from her, Penryn is determined to find her, no matter what the cost.Penryn gets help from an unlikely source, a fallen angel named Raffe, who's subjected to torments of his own when his wings are cut off. Penryn cares for him initially, but only in order to find more information as to the whereabouts of her abducted sister. The two form an unlikely alliance, and their interactions with each other are both dynamic and interesting to watch. What happens from that point on is an interesting toggle between realms and populations - with some strikingly gory details surrounding the conflicts in their respective world. I'm thrilled that the author actually took some of these turns because I can appreciate writing with a fair amount of horror/gore, especially if its taken in context with the respective themes/genre of the work. (I also mentioned this in my review of Patti Larsen's "Run", the first novel of the Hunted series.) The overarching imagery in the story is well done, balanced by tight writing that's enough to give a clear picture of the kind of world that exists, while managing to keep the momentum going in the scheme of events. Penryn is a fine heroine - I love her proactive attitude. Her narrative voice is both amusing and realistic for the situations she faces. I'm really, really glad that she's separate from many YA heroines that fall at the drop of a hat for the leading male character. If anything, she gives Raffe a hard time in points, and rightly so - she's more concerned about finding her sister and she's not exactly taking angels for being friendly beings. On the contrary, Raffe manages to be an interesting character in his portrayal, though he's not exactly fond of Penryn in the beginning either. I wouldn't say Raffe's the most crush worthy hero I've ever come across, but he has his fair share of moments, particularly with his gradually developed respect for Penryn and wry humor. I liked seeing their relationship dynamic - it progressed in a way that felt quite in turn considering the circumstances.If I had to say something constructively critical about the work, there were points at the very beginning where it took a little bit of time for me to get into it, probably because I wasn't clear on where the characters were situated and the conflict at hand, but those questions were answered as I went further into the book. I also felt that, while the mythos and worldbuilding was sound, a part of me wanted to go a little deeper with it, and there were a few plot holes that I saw that I think could've been evened out a little more. Still, it didn't really detract from my enjoyment of the novel on a collective note.The ending left me wanting more in a good way, and I appreciated the ties that were given to the storyline, because it manages to be self-contained while leaving a few threads to lend to a follow-up novel. I think this is a fine novel, and certainly not just one of the best I've read in self-publications, but certainly among its genre. I'm definitely looking forward to the next book, and would recommend this as an interesting reach in YA post-apocalyptic, paranormal stories with a dash of romance (though more minute) and interesting character development.Overall score: 4/5