Author: Susan Ee
Genre: YA fantasy
Status: Book 1 of Penryn and the End of Days
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.
Opening with Penryn, her mom and her sister running away from their hometown in the middle of the night, the novel takes place in a mid-apocalypse world where many cities have blown up, most places are deserted and the people still alive are either in gangs, resistance movements or like Penryn and her family, wanderers only looking to survive in a remotely good condition.
With an apt book title, it centres around the sudden breach by angels into earth. Penryn, only worrying about the safety of her crippled sister Paige and her schizophrenic mother, gets involved into the politics and plans of the angels and human resistant movements, all the while remaining down-to-earth
pun intended and blunt.
The main plot is set in motion when Penryn decides to partner up with an angel, introduced as Raffe, after her sister Paige is taken by another angel. Being in a compromising position with his wings just cut off by his enemies, Raffe begrudgingly relents to lead Penryn to the aerie where he assumes his sister is being kept.
Going to my views on the setting, destroyed North California has been described with all the glory of being in an apocalypse. With mentions of the old and new Silicon Valley, the difference seen in two short months is so completely jarring. Personally, I thought the time mentioned when all the destruction happened was too short. In the beginning when Penryn recalled the “old world”, I kept wondering when exactly the end of days started, thinking it could not be too close to the present. But later, when it was mentioned that all of it happened in two very short months, I was taken aback. First, the amount of destruction and change plus the desertion and so many developments (or rather anti-developments) cannot take place in that span of time. That was a bit unreal, especially considering the mentions of New York and Washington D.C. going up in smoke.
For me, all the blood, gore and cannibalism-included description was a bit too much to handle. It’s true, that’s how an apocalypse should be (would be?) so this is a warning not to eat too much before reading this book
to avoid it all coming back up if you can’t stomach all that.
I liked the relationship between Penryn and Raffe-not too much romance or instantaneous obsession, but a step-by-step development. The humour and camaraderie between them might have been a bit too easy right from the start (when they didn’t even trust each other), but later when they spent a while together, it was easier to believe.
In short, it’s not the typical angel story where angels are good or angels are bad yet stunning and keep up appearances completely (like in the Angel trilogy by L.A. Weatherly). It shows ruthless, cunning and manipulative mixed in with a whole bucket of selfishness and condescending-behaviour-towards-humans angels. Be ready to be wowed, or disgusted, depending on how you take it.
I will give it to the author though, imagining and writing all those details must have been hard (I wouldn’t even dare, being a happy life girl).
Therefore, its an innovative and blunt, if I can say, read making all you’re reading feel real and making you feel the fear, panic and determination of the protagonist.