“Angelfall tells the story of a world where biblical Angels have--for reasons unknown--effectively laid waste to the Earth and prey upon the human survivors. Among the survivors, is a seventeen year old girl named Penryn Young, and her wheel-chair bound younger sister, Paige, and their mentally ill mother. In their attempt to escape from a worn torn area, the Young family inadvertently stumble upon a battle between Angels, resulting in one of them badly beaten, his wings shorn, and left for dead. The winning Angels—again, for reasons yet unknown--decide to kidnap Penryn's crippled sister and fly away with her.
Penry vows to get her back by any means necessary, even if it means enlisting the help of one who is ostensibly her mortal enemy: the maimed wingless Angel named "Raffie".
I'm not a big fan of present tense in general. But I guess it has come back into style because of its effective use in the Hunger Games. One has to be very careful with present tense writing. The good thing about present tense is its sense of immediacy and urgent pacing. The bad part is that it can also make an author a little lazy on the details, because it affords them the luxury of not having to spend too much time explaining things too much or letting the reader question things too closely, due to the fact that things are moving too quickly. The equivalent of this would be in music where a musician can get away with flubbing a few notes when he/she is doing a bunch of 16th and 32nd note runs, but when they are doing a piece in Adagio and with long whole notes there's no room to cheat, because every note counts.
With that said, though, I thought the author used the present tense very well here, giving the reader a sense of breathtaking pace and immediacy of events. Also, the author was able to maintain the mysterious circumstances of the Angel's destructive acts much longer and better in the present tense, which, though frustrating for a curious reader like myself, also increased the overall suspense and anticipation.
The character of Penryn seems to come from the Katniss Everdeen school of modern heroines ; young girls who have invariably been parentified by their extraordinary circumstances and have special skills that allow them to survive in extreme situations. What I like most about Penryn, though, is that, unlike Katniss, she actually had a semi-normal childhood (well, as normal as you can get with a mentally unbalanced mother, a missing father, and a handicap sister) replete with making out with boys, having girlfriends, and watching TV, etc. And so she comes across as a real teenaged girl but thrown into some rather daunting and unusual circumstances.
She also possesses an understandable sexual curiosity about Raffie, which is somewhat refreshing. She is, after all, a teenaged girl, charged with hormones, and Raffie is a wounded, brooding, smart alecky hunky, gorgeous man. What girl wouldn't fall for him, even if he is an Angel? I'm just happy (thankful, relieved) that there was none of the obligatory Jacob Black/Edward Cullen or Gale/Peeta love triangle that you find in most books categorized as YA. I mean, when i was in high school I could barely manage ONE girlfriend, much less a love triangle.
The first half of the book was paced well, though not terribly exciting to be honest. More of an exploration of this new post-apocalyptic world and how the remaining humans have managed to survive. The author gives the readers only bread crumbs of information, nothing really solid to see the overall construction of a real mythology in our heads. Not that I want a data dump of information, per se, but a little more background would probably have gone a long way towards further enjoyment.
And can I just say…am I the only one who was a little disturbed (nay intrigued) by the strange characterization of Penryn's mother? She stalks the novel like mad ghost, and, like all possessed of psychosis seem to find themselves in exactly the right place at the wrong time.
But the book really kicks into high gear once Penryn and Raffie managed to get into the Aerie. And then, literally and figuratively, all hell breaks loose.
The story ended in a strange, exhilarating, albeit sad place. The characters have been changed irrevocably (some for better, some for worse, maybe a little bit of both) by their experiences and are now prepared for the next part of their story, which, i must say, can't get here soon enough. ”