Monday, May 19, 2014

Review - World After

World After (Penryn & the End of Days #2)
by Susan Ee
Date: 2013
Publisher: Skyscape
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
Pages: 438
Format: e-book

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?

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I read Angelfall last year and, while I didn't think it was the greatest book I'd ever read, I found it very entertaining.  I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I liked it as much as I did.  I've been putting off reading World After for a while.  It seems that I'm often disappointed with sequels, and I was afraid that would be the case here.  While I was somewhat disappointed, the disappointment wasn't as great as it could have been, and it wasn't enough to make me give up on this series altogether.

What we have here is a good example of Second Book Syndrome.  While the first book had less-than-horrible writing, a decent plot, and some intriguing characters to help drive that plot along, this second installment in Penryn's story is lacking in a few ways.  First, the writing isn't quite on the level of the first book.  There are numerous typos and punctuation errors that I would have liked to see caught before this went to print.  Second, the plot itself is a bit weak.  It seems like there is a lot of aimless wandering about.  I finally realized that Penryn's goal is to find her sister... but it's almost disguised behind a lot of day-to-day survival struggles with the Resistance, seemingly gratuitous horror scenes, and Penryn's wistful memories of Raffe.  Which brings me to what I think is the biggest weakness of World After: Penryn and Raffe don't even interact with each other until almost three-quarters of the way through the book.  If, like me, you enjoyed their banter in Angelfall, you might be in for a bit of a disappointment here.  I can think of a number of series or trilogies that have a forced separation between the characters in the second book (Twilight, Wondrous Strange, Evermore).  I've yet to read one where I thought it worked well.  When Penryn and Raffe do finally get back together, it's nice to see them interact... but it's also so close to the end of the book that much of the remaining action feels rushed.  There are also a few plot points that are tied up a little too neatly and conveniently for my taste.

The pace seems a bit off.  Much of the story moves along fairly well, but then -- rather inexplicably -- it'll come to a snail's pace.  The scene with Penryn and Raffe eating cereal and peanut butter -- where every mouthful and finger lick is noted and described -- could've been shortened considerably without losing anything (other than perhaps a few eye-rolls from frustrated readers).  The fight scenes (and there are lots) move more quickly, but they have problems of their own.  Surprisingly, Penryn's memories of Raffe (which stand in for actual interaction between the two for most of the book) aren't as slowing to the flow of the story as I might have thought.  Though, overall, I did tire of Penryn's continual waxing poetic about Raffe's hotness:

He looks at me with those killer eyes in that perfect face over his Adonis body.

Seriously.  That's an actual quote from the book.  I guess I can cut Penryn a bit of slack, since she is only seventeen and I probably would have had similar thoughts at that age about a gorgeous supernatural being, but her metaphorical drooling is almost to the point of being unintentionally amusing.

For all its problems, though, I found World After as weirdly addictive as I did Angelfall.  I will most likely pick up the third book in this series, whenever it happens to be released.

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Editing: 3/5
Originality: 4/5
Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 3.29 out of 5

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