I’ve had this book on my shelf for over a year now, and I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve looked longingly in it’s direction, where it sat sadly gathering dust. I’ve even picked it up a few times, thinking I could quickly fit it in between review commitments, only to have fate *shakes fist* conspire against me time and again. Finally, a few weeks ago, enough was enough, I made time for Angelfall.
WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG?!
Oh, there are just so many things to love about this book. Ee’s wonderfully strong storytelling style that combines a wonderfully introspective and self-aware heroine, a fresh take on an overdone genre, a narrative that ranges from poignant, to darkly humorous, to bleak, to outright horror, intertwined with an undercurrent of romance. There were a few scenes in this book that were possibly the most chilling I’ve ever read. Not a jump-out-heart-stopping horror, but that growing sense of utter wrongness that subtly germinates and grows into something unimaginably horrific. And these sequences very vividly and effectively portray the terrifying yet compelling nightmarescape that Penryn’s world has become.
It’s brilliant. And horrifying. And did I mention brilliant?
Other things that are brilliant? Penryn.
Penryn is such an amazing, relatable, strong heroine. ‘Strong’ is one of those words thrown about willy-nilly when describing heroines, isn’t it? Almost every other heroine gets a “strong” stamped on their character dossier, and undoubtedly this is a conversation for another time, but I’ll simply say: ‘strong’ is a label that gets some backlash but that in truth encompasses a myriad of things. Heroines can be strong in many different ways. ‘Strong’ is merely the most simple and straightforward, non-spoilery way to describe a more complex range of qualities, actions, reactions, choices, struggles and victories. So when I say that Penryn is strong, I don’t mean strong in that she’s trained in martial arts and she’s a bit kickbutt. She is that; she is physically strong. But she’s also strong because she persists despite her fear and doubt. She perseveres even when all she wants to do is surrender and give up. She’s strong because she learns to be self-sufficient. She’s kickbutt because she loves her sister with a sacrificial kind of love. Penryn’s strength doesn’t lie so much in her ninja skills and an (un)wavering confidence, it’s in recognizing her weaknesses, feeling hopeless, being lost, and doing what’s right or what she must anyway.
In addition to the awesomeness that is Penryn, I also was sucked into this book because of the relationships that Ee created, particularly between Penryn & Raffe and Penryn & her mother. I don’t want to give too much away as it’s best to be discovered for yourself, but the dynamics of both relationships are something a bit out of the ordinary, and uniquely complex. The kinds of relationships that are extremely hard to define which, for me at least, makes them incredibly compelling. I’m also a fan of how (and the rate at which) Ee’s developing them. Just fantastic.
Overall. In a YA sub-genre that routinely falls prey to a pitfall of cliches, similarities, and well-loved plot devices, Angelfall stands apart as something extraordinary and unexpected.