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World After by Susan Ee

World After by Susan Ee
Book Name: World After
Author: Susan Ee
Publisher(s): Skyscape (US) Hodder Paperbacks (UK)
Formatt: Paperback / Audiobook / eBook
Genre(s): Paranormal / YA
Release Date: November 19, 2013 (US) November 21, 2013 (UK)

Warning: Spoilers ahead for those who have not read the first book, Angelfall.
(If not, what are you waiting for, the apocalypse?! Just kidding…well, not really.)

Had enough of the cookie-cutter, dystopian YA novels of late? Looking for something off-the-wall? How about some agnostic angels with a generous helping of horror? Then, look no further than Penryn and the End of Days series by debut author, Susan Ee.

World After is the second installment in a re-writing of angelic society. Make no mistake – these are not the cute and adorable cherubs of Hallmark cards or stained-glass windows. A warrior race with their own agenda, these angels have taken it upon themselves to bring about the apocalypse on Earth. Archangels battle over hierarchy while demons bide their time serving them, and humans are caught in the middle as incidental casualties. Forget about what you know regarding angels’ roles; a re-imagining is in order to fully appreciate the plot in this story.

The main character of Penryn is a 17-year-old girl struggling to survive with her schizophrenic mother and precocious 7-year-old sister. Penryn is the independent-thinking, snarky heroine found frequently in YA novels of today but without the whining and asinine decision-making. She is trained in the mixed martial arts and can hold her own when the odds are seemingly against her.

We meet her in Angelfall, the first book in this series, when she goes out of her way to help an angel being tortured by his demonic enemies. Despite the angel invasion that upended her world, Penryn cannot help but react to those in desperate need, even those on the enemy’s side. She witnesses the brutal rending of an archangel’s snow-white wings by a demon and his minions and attempts to stop the further abuse. For her troubles, her wheelchair-bound little sister, Paige, is kidnapped. Penryn then doggedly attaches herself to Raphael, the archangel she inadvertently saved, to help her rescue Paige.

Raffe (Raphael) humors her in his curiosity about her selfless act of bravery. Humans are weak and beneath his regard, but this one shows little fear of his archangel status and comes without a filter for her mouth. He must get his wings back to maintain his leadership and the respect of his peers. So they join forces, and their journey to find Paige and the stolen angelic wings brings to light some horrific experimentation. Angelfall ends with the shocking “death” of Penryn and Raffe’s adjustment to his substitute demon wings.

World After picks up almost immediately after the end of Angelfall. We see Penryn and her family heading for a Resistance camp. With Raffe sporting batwings when he delivered Penryn’s supposed corpse back to her family, her return from the dead is far from miraculous. Her mother sees her as the devil’s bride, and everyone in the Resistance eyes her as such. On top of that, her biomedically-engineered little sister appears catatonic in her stitched-up body. Penryn’s mother is still as crazy as ever, offering shock factor as well as humor, with her antics throughout the book.

Raffe does not get a lot of screen time this time around, which is unfortunate. Even his sword has forsaken him, confused by his new batwings. The archangel’s mighty sword has, instead, adopted Penryn. Through visions and dreams, it reveals bits and pieces of its past experiences with Raffe, giving Penryn (and us) a glimpse into the history and character of the archangel. Thus, we see the reluctant affection Raffe has come to develop for Penryn through their time together. When finally they do meet again at the end of the book, the built-up anticipation makes for a dramatic reunion.

The author pulls no punches in her descriptions of the human experimentations. These are happening at the new aerie (angel base camp) on Alcatraz Island after the previous aerie was taken out by the Resistance. There is major creep factor here, so a word of caution for those with less hardy stomachs.

I like how the author paints this apocalyptic world. Stark reality meets stalwart resistance in a motley crew of characters. Resistance members like Tweedledee and Tweedledum (otherwise known as Dee and Dum), a pair of twins nicknamed by Penryn who can’t tell them apart, help keep the mood of the book from becoming too morbid with their witty banter and clever antics. On the other hand, the cold-hearted actions of the angels can keep your spines tingling.

The only complaint I have is the pacing. Total captivation did not occur until the last third of the book. This was obviously a stepping stone and stage set-up for the next installment in the series. Still, it was an easy and fun read and keeps my interest enough to see what the third book has to offer.


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