54 minutes ago
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Author: Susan Ee
Length: 340 pages
Review By: Sarah
Summary: (from the author)
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.
For the second review in a row, I'm abandoning my standard review format - but this time, it's for an entirely different reason. People often ask me if I give self-published books a little leeway since they don't have the advantage of a professional editor, designer, etc. I definitely don't and I think it's ridiculous to do so. The truth is self-published books HAVE to compete for readers' attention with those published by major houses.
Angelfall is the first self-published novel that I can say with 100% confidence: This book is as good or better than those published by a major house. Usually, when reading, I'm constantly aware of the impending review and analyzing - but several times reading this book, I slipped into reading-for-fun mode, just enjoying the story and forgetting to analyze. I stayed up two hours past my planned bedtime to finish this because I couldn't stand to go to bed without knowing how it ended.
Penryn is a tough chick who walks the very thin line between being a hero and losing her marbles, which makes for a compelling read. My favorite part about her is that she has a fantastic reason for possessing the survival skills she uses and it's NOT because she lived a privileged life before the apocalypse. Raffe is perfectly composed and even Penryn's mother, who could have easily been a caricature, is beautifully, hauntingly rendered.
The world is gritty, dark, creepy - but still not without hope. The characters have to make hard decisions, with no single "right" answer and, though I didn't know what they were going to choose, I supported their choices after they made them.
The plot is like a Master's study in pacing, with the last 40 pages making my heart race, flipping through those virtual pages like a Pavlovian monkey, pushing the button for more crack.
I have to say something about mechanics before I close, because I truly believe these can make or break a reading experience. The editing was impeccable - so much so that I didn't notice a single typo. (Not saying there isn't one, but I really didn't see any.) I read an .epub on my nook and the interior layout was perfect - no glitches at all. And that cover? Well I certainly wouldn't mind a hard-copy of that sitting on my bookshelf.
This is very obviously the beginning of a series and, as such, leaves a few unanswered questions at the end. BUT the major conflict is satisfyingly resolved and I only mention this because it is a pet-peeve of some readers. The only people to whom I wouldn't recommend this book are those who are very easily bothered by twisting of Christian tradition. (And I wouldn't even mention this except I'm hypersensitive to it because a very good friend of mine just had a review where the reviewer downgraded her book from 5 stars to 3 because of a single in-character use of the phrase "God damn.")
So, in case you haven't figured it out yet, I give this book
5 out of 5 stars, with a capital "GO BUY THIS BOOK AND READ IT NOW."
Amazon Kindle ($2.99)
B&N Nook ($2.99)