S E R I E S R A T I N G : 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟
Penryn & the End of Days is an apocalyptic horror trilogy following the story of Penryn Young, her sister and her mother as they struggle to survive the potential downfall of man. Angels have come to Earth and are wreaking havoc; they’re seemingly invincible, are ruthless warriors who care nothing about the lives of humans. The human race has scattered, gangs have emerged as everyone fights to the death for survival. When Penryn’s younger sister is kidnapped, she sets out to find her, forming an unlikely alliance with an angel named Raffe. But as they spend an increasing amount of time together, they realize that the alliance is turning into something akin to romance, and the fact that they’re two people from two species at war is not only complicated, it’s terrifying.
“He is the one pocket of warmth in a sea of ice. Being in his arms feels like the home I never had.”
Susan Ee has crafted a story that’s… delicious, and that truly is the best way to describe it. Angelfall was largely lackluster in my opinion, for several reasons that I’ll get into later into the post, but I was still willing to give the rest of the books a chance. I picked up the second book a year after I completed the first one, and flew through it. It was everything I adored about a sequel, and it forced me to pick up the third book immediately after I finished it. End of Days was also a book I adored – and I was left in awe at the amount of improvement the series, and the author, went through from start to finish.
BOOK I WAS A LACKLUSTER AND DECEPTIVE START TO A GREAT SERIES
Like I said, Angelfall was far from perfect – for the most part, the first book seriously lacked in action. Susan Ee is a slow writer, and that’s okay. Her strength lies in the balance of slow and fast but it seemed like that perfect balance had not yet been struck in the series starter. Angelfall was dull – the moments interspersed with romance fell flat because Raffe and Penryn’s relationship was, at first, unbelievable to me. What drew them together? Why do they like each other beyond the fact that they have some sort of chemistry? Their relationship, as fun as it was to observe the banter and teasing, didn’t feel like it was developed well, and considering that I had pacing problems before the 80% mark, the first book wasn’t all that I had heard it would be. In the end, I gave it three stars, mostly because the last 20% was phenomenal, and it made me want to read ahead. If you’re looking for more in-depth thoughts, here’s my review.
WORLD AFTER PUT PENRYN AT THE FOREFRONT – RISKY MOVE, BUT WORTH IT
World After, however, was where the fun truly started, which is ironic because it was significantly slower than the first book all-in-all. Ee took a chance by making the sequel exist as solely a Penryn book, where Raffe barely exists past a few scenes near the end and a couple of fleeting moments here and there. It’s a book focused on Penryn’s personal development, her relationship with her family, as she comes to terms more fully with the world she’s now living in, with who she’s become, and has to firmly pick a side in a war that seems to have no end other than the destruction of her species. Having a book centered on her allowed me to appreciate her strength, both as a character and a person – so often when a romance is introduced and a high-stakes surrounding is at work, we forget to be invested in the main character. And with this risky decision, Ee ensured that I was enamored by Paige and her story.
World After is a slow, churning book full of introspection, survival and thought-provoking moments. Getting to be fully emerged in Paige’s head and seeing her work through her thoughts about Raffe made their romance click into place for me; suddenly, they made sense and I was rooting for them like I haven’t rooted for another couple in a long time – a stark contrast considering I felt nothing for them in the first book. The moments where the action existed were exciting. The horror and gore were cranked up a notch, and so was the world-building. The second book in the trilogy was perhaps my favorite from the three; it sucked me in completely.
END OF DAYS WAS AN EXPLOSIVE, THOUGHT-PROVOKING FINALE
The third and final installment titled End of Days was another incredible sequel to a series that truly proved me wrong. While it often seemed like Ee was throwing action-packed scene after action-packed scene my way, the action struck a brilliant balance between the slow-churn of the second book and the wild thrill of the third. Here is where I’ll suggest that you binge the second and third books; spreading out the reading experience may give you whiplash. Read them both consecutively and you’ll enjoy the sudden shift in pace, I promise you. While action is at the forefront of the finale, we see some thought-provoking discussions take place. What does it mean to be evil in a world where dichotomies don’t seemingly exist? How are you supposed to empathize with someone who, by all logical reasoning, should be your enemy? How far are you willing to go to get your way when your way could be good for so many, and bad for so many too? I thought Susan Ee answered these complicated questions nicely, and though the end wasn’t handed to you on a silver platter wrapped with a red bow on top, you still got enough closure. You still get a book that wraps it up without making this otherwise gritty, terrifying story neat.
BUT… THAT ONE GLARING FLAW I COULDN’T GET PAST…
So, I loved the series clearly. But there was one glaring flaw, past the technicalities in the first book, that stopped me from giving it a higher rating. There was one question that was never addressed properly (if at all): what about the rest of the world?! The three books take place in various parts of San Francisco, and seemingly, all the action is going on in California – considering it’s called World After, you’d think some of the action would take place outside of the West Coast – or at least some other countries would be acknowledged. Susan Ee makes it seem like the entire future of the human race rests on the shoulders of the people of California… but what about everyone else on the globe? You could argue that the angels only came to the United States – but, okay, then the human race isn’t really in trouble… Americans are, and that significantly lowers the stakes of the series. And if you argued that there were more angels elsewhere, and the book just focuses on the events of California – then the war isn’t really over, and there’s a considerable loose end. Either way, it makes no sense. I don’t see the logic behind not addressing what countries outside of the US are going through in this horrifying apocalyptic time, and ultimately, that’s such a lapse in world-building that it was the one major flaw I simply could not wrap my head around or get over.
But past this one flaw, Penryn & the End of Days was a thrilling read, and I dread to think that had I not given the series a second chance after being let-down by the first book, I would never have experienced the terrifying, delicious glory of it. If this isn’t a lesson to give things second chances, I don’t know what is!