"I'm all about personal business. Every battle I have is personal."
What's that sound? Ah yes, the sound of a heart's sigh as its wishes gets fulfilled, of glorious expectations getting met… that, my friends is the sigh of relief.
I have been waiting for this book for almost a year to the date and my hungry anticipation for what happens to Penryn after the last pages in Angelfall can only spell disappointment for me. I tend to overhype in my mind the books I love tremendously (wassup Dante Walker!), setting them up for failure, for Middle Book Syndrome.
Susan Ee looks at the gauntlet I throw at her feet and slaps me with it.
Because Angelfall was such a crowd pleaser, it's inevitable that this will be a divisive book among fans. I can practically guess which fans will complain about which aspect about this but I'm not going to be judgy like that. At the end of the day, it all boils down to what tethered you to this series, and I do feel a little sad for the readers who cannot see beyond the expected, who boarded this rollercoaster ride for one reason and one reason alone.
Because this series is so much more that THAT.
This book's imagination was macabre, the violence unapologetic and the blows it delivers on the feels were exact and precise. The World After is a world of unforgiving pain and unrelenting punishment that doles out just the right amount of humor to keep you hopeful. But really, it keeps all hope at bay and plays with it when its mood strikes and you're not allowed to scream. Because when you do, it's going to be your last.
It's District 9 set in an apocalypse that is quite reminiscent of Nazi-occupied Europe.
Who comes up with that shit?! Show of hands, who can claim he/she saw anything from this book coming at the end of Angelfall?
I'm actually quite scared to continue with the next book because I don't know if my poor geriatric heart could take the stress of the impossible turns I've seen Susan Ee was capable of doing here. I don't imagine Ee as heartless but I get the sense that she won't coddle my unimaginative brain with stereotypes and cliches.
Paige was a revelation, I never really care much for the sister that needs to be rescued but she was the emotional pulse of this book. People will cry over the first half but I loved it. It had a unique avant-garde grit that taps into emotions and core values I didn't quite expect from a book with a lengthy discussion of nuclear cows and a character named Pooky Bear.
Some fans may feel a little alienated from Penryn because she had flaws here that came into sharp focus, relative to Raffe, Paige and her mother but I couldn't have imagined a better heroine for this story. She is not Buffy, she's not the final solution, she evolves from the Penryn of Angelfall but not in a manner that cheapens or oversimplifies this story. Some may interpret her musings as losing teeth, I say it kept her from falling under a two-dimensional trap. She's a seventeen year old girl and she fed a couple of angels to the great white sharks of San Francisco … I'm still trying to wrap my head around that awesomeness.
This was told from Penryn's POV all throughout, except in a few painful chapters in the beginning which got a little too Inception-y for me. Dreaming about the events in Angelfall as seen through the eyes of Pooky Bear while also seeing Raffe's emotions is a little too complex for my wee brain to follow without exerting effort. And I may have raised my eyebrow over a scene at the end because it teetered a little to closely to cheeseville for me but that's something that I've seen happen before in this series. It tests my limits, pushes my fancy to go to places that will leave me a different kind of reader after.
As I flipped the last page, there is a phantom pain in my heart, a grainy heat in my eyes and a coldness in my feet. There's a folder full of snarky gifs in my hard drive that will not see the light of day. Not today. Not for this book. I will move on to my next read and my next and my next with this heavy feeling in my chest, knowing it brings me a day closer to the end of such a truly amazing series.
My dad once told me life would get complicated when I grew up. I'm guessing this isn't what he meant. My mom, on the other hand, agreed with him, and I'm guessing this kind of thing is exactly what she meant.