I'm not often a fan of angel stories...at least not the sort that have been coming out lately. Too often they're over-the-top cliche and predictable and...squishy. O.o But this one caught my attention, and after reading (and loving) the sample on Amazon, I decided to go ahead and get it.Initial Thoughts
1. A present tense POV that I don't completely hate from sentence 1? That's a first. Maybe that's why I decided to give the book a chance. I don't know how she did it, but Susan Ee actually makes this work. Maybe it's because she follows the rules of the game she chose to play. She doesn't fill us in with lots of background detail when it has nothing to do with what's happening at the moment. She waits till something comes up in the plot, and then the narrator gives us an appropriate and appropriately brief bit of backstory. And for once I actually buy it.
2. A YA paranormal story with a female protagonist whose name is NOT something like "Heaven" or "Sky" or "Ever" or "Eternity" or "America" or something equally "symbolic" or something? Win.
3. This chick kicks butt. And no insta-love. Win. Win. This makes a happy J. Leigh.
4. I'm still not sure about the whole angel thing. But I'm thinking I'm going to pretend it's no different than him being a centaur or a faun or something mythical like that, and let Ee create her mythical being as she chooses.
Okay. I just finished this book. It reads fast...and it was obviously pretty addictive, since I picked it up this afternoon and finished it tonight.
Still, I have some fairly mixed feelings about this one.
First. There were some aspects of the world-building and conflict that I had trouble accepting. For instance, Raffe says early on that if you want to kill an angel, you have to use an angel sword...but apparently the only reason is because the wounds take longer to heal? In the end it doesn't seem to make much difference since there seem to be a lot of angels lying around killed by gunfire after the attack on the aerie. Also. If the war is still going on, why the heck are the angels having parties 24/7? They decide suddenly to attack earth (presumably because God tells them to) so they destroy almost
everything...but not really everything...all in one fell swoop, and then they for some reason start second-guessing themselves and for the next six weeks they sit around and bicker with each other? Which...happens in the midst of this 24/7 lounge party? And after only six weeks they're consorting with humans (and conversely, the humans are consorting with them)? Are we to believe that they destroyed every single bomb and missile in the world, and have the luxury of lounging around for a while? Except that the resistance seems to have gotten its hands on some pretty powerful explosives...somehow?? Enough to take down a skyscraper?
Second. So...I guess I'm getting that angels are exactly like mortal humans except they can heal (sometimes) and fly (with varying proficiency) and are lighter and stronger and longer-lived than we are. Not to mention that they seem to have really
plebeian tastes...speaking angelically, of course...and unsophisticated senses of humor. Not that I was expecting thee's and thou's or anything, but some of the angelic dialogue just felt really juvenile. You'd think that beings that have existed for thousands of years would...I don't know...act a little less human? I mean, they eat steak and take showers and watch TV and bleed blood. Plus they all talked like high-schoolers, or college students at best, except on the rare occasion. And really? Agnostic angels? To me that was just one more notch in the whole "they're basically flying people" feel I got.
Third. I really enjoyed the dialogue and the banter between Raffe and Penryn....except when I remembered that this was a post-apocalytpic world populated with murdering angels and flesh-eating monsters, and that Raffe is, as previously mentioned, a God-knows-how-old angel and the archangel Raphael at that. I guess this is where my dissatisfaction with angel stories comes in. If Raffe had been a human? Ooh, would I ever be a fan. He's just the right amount of teasing and gentle and tormented, kick-butt and fiery and flawed.....for a human.
Fourth. I'm not a squeamish person. Things don't gross me out much at all. I had a "Huh" moment at the end of the book...but mostly owing to the twist, and not so much because of the description. I can see how some people might be a bit grossed out by some of the descriptions, but, that's kind of a matter of taste. I kind of appreciated that Ee lets her characters actually suffer real, debilitating pain, and that she apparently knows her stuff in how she portrays the fight scenes and the injuries. Props to her for that.
Fifth. For the most part, I really liked how she handled the relationship between Raffe and Penryn. Except in rare instances, I really despise insta-love scenarios. This felt much more believable. HOWEVER. I have to say I'm dreading how it will progress from here, because Ee has basically set up a scenario where Raffe would have to betray everything he's stood for, and become what he has always despised, to continue down that path. And if he does, I will end up despising him. But I would despise the story if it can't work out.
Sixth. If his sword was that smart, she should have known Raffe had received his demon wings against his will. Really. Or, if she really did get fooled by the wings enough to turn against him, then she should have guided Penryn's hands to attack the being with the bat wings rather than the one with the angel wings.
Seventh. (Phew!) Sometimes the plot felt a little squishy. Not terribly so, but just enough to make me wonder if dangerous events and obstacles were being strewn about simply to add tension, or if they were really necessary for the action of the story. For all that, it was a light, fluffy, enjoyable read (if you can call post-apocalyptic piranha monsters and mass-murdering angels light and fluffy). Some editing errors and some repeat phrases, but all in all a well-written book on a technical level. And it was fun.
I definitely give props to Ee for marketing her book so successfully.