Friday, 14 March 2014

World After (Penryn & the End of Days #2) by Susan Ee

Description from Goodreads:

In this sequel to the bestselling fantasy thriller, Angelfall, the survivors of the angel apocalypse begin to scrape back together what's left of the modern world.

When a group of people capture Penryn's sister Paige, thinking she's a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mom is heartbroken.

Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. Why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels' secret plans where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go.

Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can't rejoin the angels, can't take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?


Before I start to talk about the actual review, I think I need to mention that my expectations for World After were exceptionally high. I loved the first book of the series, Angelfall , and I think I could even mention it being one of my favourite horror books as it seemed to had it all: intriguing but imperfect female protagonist, disturbing and haunting world, and a continuous threat that could develop into anything and everything. So, if the first book is something like I just described, it is pretty natural to expect similar text from the second one. But I'm afraid, that at least I have to say that my expectations weren't met. 

We were left off in a very intense situation in the end of the first book, but World After takes a slightly calmer approach which is totally fine as the readers indeed need to take a breath after all that action and chaos. However, the calm does last for very long as Penryn, Paige, and their mother reach a resistance military camp where they need to think about their next move. The beginning sort of drags on even though Ee includes some action and interesting insights to Raffe's past (which are my favourite parts of the book!!). However, I couldn't help the feeling that all this was seen already before: Penryn's kickass martial arts, Penryn's mother doing her own crazy thing, and then one of the most disappointing twists: Paige goes missing, AGAIN. 

So of course, Penryn needs to go after her, maybe even more so now as Paige has been the object of terrifying human experiments which has turned her into a demi demon, causing her to lust after raw meat (even though her spirit still was the same old Paige). And the similarities to the first book do not end here (spoilers ahead so if you don't want to know what is going to happen in the book, please do not read) : Penryn gets captured by the terrifying Scorpions (like she got caught by the resistance) but she manages to escape (like she did from the resistance camp) and Penryn also infiltrates the Angel headquarters and gets to be an eye candy for the Angels (like she infiltrated the Aerie in the first book and had to flirt with one of the angels), and gets rescued by Raffe in the end. I just kept feeling that I was reading the same book for the second time with only slight changes and additions. I was hoping World After to have a unique plot from the first one but instead they ended up being rather similar, at least in my opinion.

One another thing that was sorely disappointing was the relationship development between Penryn and Raffe. In the first book, we get quite a lot of teasing (which is just fine by me) yet there were some sparks like the kiss we get in the end of the first book. First of all, we get a good look at Raffe only almost at the end of the book (if the flashbacks aren't included) and even though his first appearance is rather tingling and great, the rest of his time on the book was wooden and predictable. I had always liked Raffe, but I felt like his personality changed quite a lot during the second book. He suddenly started making a lot of jokes (which weren't even funny) and started teasing Penryn (which was very awkward) every chance he got. Where did the brooding and suffering Raffe go? I want him back! Secondly, I do realise that even though Penryn and Raffe had always felt the pull between them and of course they would be thrilled after seeing each other again after such a long time, I think they were just too friendly to each other after their reunion. I mean, they barely know each other and still they were all lovey dovey and almost pronouncing their undying love for each other. And that didn't suit me very well.

I'm not here to state that the book was absolute rubbish as it had it's moments as well. Penryn's combat scenes were as impressive as ever and I have to give Ee credit for doing such rigorous research for it as you can see that she didn't make it all up. I also loved the flashbacks to Raffe's earlier life which also gave some context why Raffe is the way he is and how the angels used to behave before the apocalypse. Another interesting thing that I didn't see coming was that we also get to know what Paige experienced while she was angels' captive. Those details gave the book another dimensions that it desperately needed.

I think I do want to read the third book of the series, but I have admit that I won't be having as high expectations as I had for this one. The thing that I'm most afraid is that the relationship between Penryn and Raffe is going to end up being very superficial and predictable. They had so good start in the first book but the direction they are headed doesn't sound very appealing to me. I guess we just need to wait and see.

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