Trilogy Review: Penryn and the End of Days by Susan Ee

Penryn and the End of Days Trilogy
by Susan Ee
3/5 stars

The “Penryn and the End of Days” Trilogy is a post-apocalyptic young adult series about vengeful angels who have destroyed most of humankind. Penryn, a teen with a crazy mother and crippled sister to take care of, struggles to help her family survive. When her sister is abducted, Penryn will do anything to get her back, even if that means working with an angel…

Overall, I found the concept and execution of this series incredibly original. In a market flooded with post-apocalyptic/dystopian titles (many of which I’ve read… they are addicting), finding something unique seems to get increasingly difficult. This series was definitely unlike anything I’ve read before.

The first book “Angelfall” was a solid five-star read, and I loved it so much I gushed about it for weeks. In fact, here’s the review I posted shortly after finishing it:

I haven’t been so excited for the beginning of a post-apocalyptic series since I picked up Partials by Dan Wells two years ago… and trust me, I’ve read a LOT of books from this genre between then and now. Angelfall just had an X-factor that immediately grabbed my attention and held it from start to finish. So much so that a hundred pages into the first book I was already online ordering the next two in the series. It was one of those books that made me a believer early on, and I’m kicking myself for not picking it up sooner.

The biggest thing that stood out to me about Angelfall was how incredibly well it was written. Susan Ee has a way with words and descriptions that allowed me to completely lose myself in the story. All of the interactions between her characters seemed so organic and natural, and that’s part of the reason why I think the book flowed so well. For everyone I’ve ever heard complain about insta-loves in YA, this would be an excellent series for you – the relationship development in Angelfall was gradual, based on shared experiences between the characters and a combination of little moments… i.e. my favorite kind of love story.

The other thing that stood out was the concept and how it was executed – this is a post-apocalyptic world where angels (of all things) are responsible for its destruction. Now, up until this point I haven’t had any interest in the angel trend permeating the YA market because it always seems to come across a little cheesy (as it did occasionally in Daughter of Smoke and Bone). What Ee managed to do was take all of the traits indicative to angels and make them kind of badass. The creatures in her novel were dangerous, and you could feel that deadly force emanating from the pages with each new conflict. It was awesome. And if the great concept wasn’t enough, add to that heart-wrenching back story to Penryn and her family (which added a ton of interesting depth and dynamics the story) and you have one robust, well-rounded novel that is sure to knock your socks off.

It was as remarkable to me as any other first-book staples of the genre like Hunger Games and Divergent. It was original (see above), fast-paced (I haven’t been so engaged in a teen book in ages), and contained one of the most organic romantic relationships of any teen series I’ve ever read. In a genre famous for its “insta-loves” finding a relationship that develops naturally was a treat, and quite possibly my favorite element of the story. Those positive elements remained true for the following two books in the series…

But beyond the first book, conceptually, she lost me.

The first book promised to take a plethora of interesting directions, all of which were compelling. But after finishing the series, I never felt as though it lived up to its potential. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve read quite a few teen dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels over the years, and the motto I adopted from them is question everything. I initially went into the “Penryn” Trilogy skeptical if the destructive angels were in fact actually divine beings, or if they had some other, more earthly, origins. I feel compelled to save other readers the same frustration by disclaiming: my questions regarding that were never answered. And in fact, I finish the series with most of my questions and theories unanswered, which is one of the reasons I feel the story was somehow incomplete/inconclusive even though it was entertaining.

Overall, I don’t regret reading this trilogy because it really was a breath of fresh air in the genre. The first book was easily the best of the three and still one of my all-time favorites despite my lower rating of the final two books (2.5 stars, or aka – I liked them, but I didn’t really like them). What can I say? The first book set such a high standard it would’ve been difficult for anything else to compare.

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by Niki Hawkes

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