Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Angelfall by Susan Ee

One of my favorite comedies is called Dogma (1999). It's a sorely unappreciated movie, and practically nobody I've talked to has heard of it - something that shocks me, given that its cast list is basically the "best of" list of the 90s from a wide variety of genres: Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Janeane Garofalo, Alan Rickman, Jay and Silent Bob, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock, and Alanis Morissette, who, incidentally, plays God Herself. I bet you are thinking to yourself that you know why this movie isn't very popular, and if you read the synopsis and saw this quote from the summary, "An abortion clinic worker with a special heritage is enlisted to prevent two angels from reentering Heaven and thus undoing the fabric of the universe," you're probably getting an even better idea. It's a movie that takes the piss not just out of Christians, but out of the bible and theology themselves, pointing out the hypocrisy, cruelty, and callousness that are sometimes done in the name of religion and even God.

Why am I bringing this up? Because it's a damn good movie and you should watch it, and also because it shares many themes with this book. I mean, apart from the obvious angels connection and the whole "bringing about the apocalypse" thing. You see, ANGELFALL is about the apocalypse. Angels have invaded Earth, and rather than being divine, fluffy-winged creatures of mercy, they are wreaking havoc and wrath upon humanity, destroying cities, killing humans, killing each other, and using our world as a turf war for internal politics that have nothing to do with faith or piety and everything to do with power.

Penryn, the heroine, is one of the humans. While out with her mother, who is probably schizophrenic, and her younger disabled sister who uses a wheelchair, they witness an angel getting his wings cut off. Moved by mercy to intervene, Penryn attacks the other angels, and as a result her sister is taken. Her mother flees, and Penryn is left alone with the angel... Raffe. Left with no other choice, they bond together. Raffe, to get his wings back. Penryn, to get her sister back. They have a common enemy: the other angels. But they are also wary and suspicious of one another, as well.

Their partnership is weird and awkward as they navigate the Bay Area (holla!). It reminds me a bit of The Walking Dead in terms of how gritty and realistic it feels. Penryn is a survivalist, and does what needs to be done to stay alive. Unlike 99% of so-called strong heroines, though, she isn't arrogant. She's confident, but she also has moments of fear or insecurity that make her relatable. I liked that the author actually had a reason for her physical prowess, rather than her just taking instantly to ass-kicking and wielding a sword, and I liked the slow developing sexual tension between her and Raffe.

But what makes this even better is that this is a book - written for girls - that does not hold back on unpleasantness. This book is dark. It has themes that are mature and complex and controversial. It is edgy. I couldn't put it down. I was originally going to use this book for my Halloween-themed romance challenge for the post-apocalyptic challenge and ended up going with UNDER THE NEVER SKY, and man. Apples and oranges. Apples and oranges. That book was stupid. This book is original and amazing and well-written and you just need to read it and see for yourself. I can almost forgive the author for destroying the city of San Francisco if this is what comes out of the rubble.

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars

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