Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1) - Susan Ee Well, that was a revealing look into the offerings of the self-publishing world. I have to stop clutching my pearls and turning my nose up at the idea that publishing houses don't always know best (please don't strike me dead, lightning) because Susan Ee just freaked my mind. With angels. Hark! If these angels start singing, friends, RUN!

Penryn's just trying to keep her handicapped sister Paige and her schizophrenic mother safe in a post-apocolyptic world. What could possibly go wrong? The angels have descended on Earth, and they aren't the kind of celestial beings Roma Downey and Della Reese would have us believe. Nope. Anyone held in the arms of these angels ends up dead. When Paige is abducted by a group of angels, Penryn has no choice but to team up with Raffe, a moody angel warrior whose wings were just amputated. Will Penryn find her sister without getting killed first? Will Raffe ever crack a smile? Will I ever be able to read the phrase "touched by an angel" without suffering from post traumatic stress?

Susan Ee keeps it real. You'll never be prepared for this.

Penryn - For once, a YA heroine has a reason for her badass fighting skills. Her extensive training is even wrapped up in a disturbing story about her family life that made my heart ache for her. Even before the angels come and tore everything to holy hell, Penryn's life is damaged and complicated. She's learned to survive, and that puts her at an advantage in this new world. Furthermore, she admirably resists going all googly eyed over Raffe. Even if some of her attempts to save him are misguided, she's very charming about it. I loved the part where she holds up Raffe's wings behind her back to scare away a pack of gang members. Penryn is competent yet flawed, tough as nails yet vulnerable, ruthless in a fight yet empathetic. She's made up of all the contradictions that make humans human. In a story where humanity is criticized and under attack, Ee presents a main character made up of all the things - ugly and beautiful - that make humanity worthwhile.

The Worldbuilding - The destruction of the world as Penryn knew it is described in vivid detail. It's easy to envision her standing in the wreckage of a civilization that has lost its civility. Gangs rule the streets, people attack each other for food and resources, angels perform aerial raids on communities, and corpses and the dying are left to rot. Ee created some horrifying creatures in Angelfall. The angels are bad enough. Then there are the "low demons," as Penryn names them, which end up being mutilated children that feed on human flesh like animals and the mutated humanoid creatures with scorpion tails who inject humans with venom through their pincers and drain them of life. Everything is described in graphic detail. No sugar-coating enchanted creatures in this world. Angelfall WANTS to give you nightmares.

Penryn's Mother & Sister - These characters aren't simple tools to make Penryn seem caring and selfless. Oh, no. Her mom's one of the most frightening characters in the story, and Paige ends up with a very interesting storyline. I won't tell you what it is, but believe the "interesting" part. It makes me cringe even now to think of it.

Raffe - Near the end of the story, my heart broke for Raffe. Betrayal through bat wings? Hell to the noes, you sadistic angels! And what was up with his sword rejecting him? Way to kick a dog while he's down. The way he fights his feelings for Penryn gives Raffe the whole tortured soul vibe, but his past hunting down Nephilim and killing them at least gives him a reason to go all brooding eyebrows 95% of the time.

The Timeline: With the level of deterioration described, I was really surprised to learn that the angels had only been on Earth for about 6 weeks. Wait, huh? No government, people scavenging the streets, a complete breakdown of the transportation system. I just feel like it would take longer than 6 weeks to get that desperate. Then we have structured little societies like The Resistance living in compounds in the forest, providing food for everyone. Why wouldn't other people catch onto this? Hell, if the majority of humanity has turned so feral, why wouldn't they attack The Resistance for resources? I don't get what makes the Resistance leaders so smart and special. Did they have special advance notice that the angels were coming? When did they start stockpiling all of this super rare food? I don't get it. 6 months would make more sense, maybe, but 6 weeks seems a little far-fetched.

Raffe: Yes, I know he's in my "Likes," too. No, I'm not taking this back. The thing that bugged me about Raffe (other than the fact that my mind keeps wanting to pronounce his name as Rafe instead of Rah-fie like Ee instructed) is his total lack of angelic grandeur. He's all sullen and moody like the emo teens we see in basically every other YA book out there, and I was kind of over it. I always envisioned angels as more ... stoic than that. He could have said a few wise things, maybe thrown in a story about kickin' it with David at the palace in Jerusalem, and I would have been happy. But no, all we get are stony silences and tortured stares. Puh-lease. The man's an archangel. Give him some insight! I like Raffe, but he could have been so much more. The other characters are so fully drawn that his portrayal is a bit of a let-down.

Angelfall was definitely worth reading. I'm anxious for the next book in the series. More action, more blood, more freaky creatures going bump in the night. Maybe Raffe will even do something angelic. A girl can always hope!