Wow this was an unexpectedly brilliant read. A lot of people have been raving this book and I can see why. It is fantastic. I feel like I have come late to the party but boy - what a party!!
Angelfall is a story that puts you right into the middle of the action from the very first page. The world is shattered, destroyed when the angels swooped down. Millions are dead and the cities lie in ruins. Amongst all this chaos is a young girl called Penryn who is trying desperately to keep her family alive amidst all the madness and destruction. Her mother is mad, has been for all of Penryn's life, and her younger sister Paige is confined to a wheelchair so keeping them safe has been a particular challenge.
The story opens with the family leaving their temporary shelter. Almost right away they come across a group of angels who are ganging up on a lone angel. Although this angel is clearly a fighter, the others soon overcome him and cut off his glorious wings. Hiding from the spectacle, Penryn realizes that she must create a distraction to allow her mother and sister to escape. She steps into the fray and throws the now grievously wounded angel his sword, which had been dropped in the fight. The injured angel manages to fight off the others but their leader, in retaliation, grabs Paige and flies off with her. Penryn, devastated at the loss of her sister, realizes the injured angel is the only person who can help get her sister back. The two form a temporary alliance. The angel (whose name is Raffe) needs to get his severed wings re-attached. As Raffe is not used to travelling by foot, Penryn offers to help him in return for his assistance. So begins the journey of two of the most unlikely allies.
Penryn is a wonderful character. She is tough and capable and, most importantly, does not come across as a Mary-Sue type. She is dedicated to her family and is determined to re-unite them again no matter what the personal cost. Raffe is also a very interesting character. He is often rude, sarcastic and superior but he and Penryn genuinely develop a rapport. There is even a slight hint of romance but this is secondary to the plot. Penryn's main goal is finding her sister and she never loses sight of this, even if she cannot help but notice how gorgeous her travelling companion is. They definitely develop an appreciation for each other, even though Penryn does have a difficult time trying to overcome her fear and distrust of angels which, given what they have done to the world, is understandable. Raffe's feelings are harder to work out but by the end of the novel you do see how much he has come to care for Penryn.
The story itself is fantastic. I love post-apocalyptic settings so this was right up my street. There have been a lot of these types of books around right now, some good - others not so good, but this one is definitely a new favourite of mine. I just can't say enough about how much I enjoyed it although it is not without its flaws. I can see where it would be hard initially to work out what is going on and not a lot of time is spent setting the scene but I actually didn't mind that. Enough of the back-story was filled in as the story went along so I never felt like I had missed something vital. Society has seemed to crumble at a greatly accelerated rate and I guess it may have made more sense for the 'war' with the angels to have happened much earlier than two months prior to the events in the novel but I just went with it and it didn't affect the story that much.
Overall, I loved Angelfall and now I am desperately awaiting the sequel with baited breath (coming out sometime this year hopefully??).