The only thing hotter than an angel is a competent heroine, or, a review of Angelfall

It is a testament to this story that it features a badass, incredibly beautiful angel and yet someone else steals the show. And no, the person who steals the show is not the adorable, funny, hot demon love interest. (Yes, I read Fallen. Yes, I squeed over Cam. Those days are behind me. I think.) It was the heroine. Yes, that’s right. The ordinary, human heroine is the most compelling character.

anime Thor and Loki
This gif accurately captures my emotions.

This…does not happen often. On this blog, I try to give the girls equal attention, but sometimes that’s hard when my favorite genre is full of attention whoring boys with endless tragic backstories. I am pleased to report that in this book, our heroine Penryn Young is just as awesome, if not more so, than Raffe (the angelic love interest. Pronounced Raffie. Cute, right?). But anyway, Penryn (named after a highway by her mother), knows her martial arts. She knows how to survive. She doesn’t take risks for the hell of it. Male characters do not exist to prove how helpless and stupid she is. This is not to say that she makes no mistakes, but she makes mistakes anyone in her situation can be forgiven for–that is, she doesn’t get herself into the situations that romance heroines inevitably end up in to move the plot along. Everything she does feels natural and reasonable. Not to mention that

lines

These angels look like the type to be heavily scarred by battle wounds, but instead they have the kind of perfectly unmarred skin prom queens around the country would kill their prom kings for.

like

Obi sits on the cot and ties my ankles together. I’m tempted to make a quip about requiring dinner and a movie before getting so kinky, but I don’t. The last thing I need is to start making sex jokes while I’m being held prisoner in a camp full of armed men….

these

“Try doing that again and I’ll snap you in half before you know it.”

“Big words from a guy who’s trussed up like a turkey. What are you going to do, wobble over here like an upside-down turtle and to snap me in half?”

really do make a book grow on me.

Oh, and the setting–the setting is good. The premise is that angels have taken over the world in an attempt to exterminate humanity, and little details stood out, such as the abandoned smartphones littering the street. Who needs phones when the power lines are all down? Things like that gave me a distinct taste of the situation the characters were in.

A few last notes: For a story about angels, this story was surprisingly nonspiritual. One of the things I loved about After Eden, a book that also dealt with demons and angels (reviewed here), was its discussion of theology and what it meant to and for the characters. Not so in Angelfall. These angels are so worldly I think they might be aliens. (If they are, don’t tell me. I like surprises.) I’m not saying I mind this take on angels–I always love a new spin on familiar elements–but it took some getting used to.

Second note: Penryn’s mother is schizophrenic. I don’t know much about schizophrenia, so I can’t comment on how it was handled, but I liked her character. If you read Angelfall and thought the portrayal was badly done, tell me so in the comments. I really want to know what you think! And I went a whole review without talking about the hero. He was awesome, sure, but Penryn took that spotlight and ran with it. See how good this book is? See? It was so good that I finished it in one day and immediately ran to Amazon to make sure the sequel was out. And promptly ordered it. GO BUY THIS BOOK.

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