After further thought, I've dropped my rating to four stars. Loved this book, but I keep thinking about its issues. So down it goes.
I toyed with the idea of giving this book five stars, because I really did enjoy the hell out of it. But I have to give it four stars based mostly on some serious weirdness going on toward the end, which lost it a star. No book is perfect, and maybe I'm being a little nit-picky with things that bothered me about this book.
The world has gone down the crapper, mostly as result of the fact that angels have come down to earth and taken control. To human eyes, they are vicious and power-hungry. Penryn enlists the help of an angel, Raffe, to find her kidnapped sister. Raffe initially agrees to help Penryn because he has issues of his own that Penryn may be able to help with.
I felt that Raffe was a more well-rounded character than Penryn. Penryn was loyal, and brave, and reasonable at pretty much all times. At all times, she knew what she wanted and appeared to feel little internal conflict as to what was the right thing to do. I guess she just wasn't flawed enough for me to relate to her or be truly invested in her. Raffe, on the other hand, was constantly conflicted. He was also loyal and brave, but at the same time, he was torn by conflicting loyalties and by his perceived duties.
I really liked Raffe, and I felt bad for his situation more than I felt for Penryn's. When Penryn's life was in danger, I still wanted Raffe to look out for himself, and my concern for Penryn's life was rooted in the fact that I didn't want Raffe to be sad if she died. In short, Raffe was the reason I enjoyed this book so much.
So now let me get back to the weirdness I mentioned. I'm going to have to be vague here, since I want to avoid spoilers. In my opinion, potentially great books can be marred by the introduction of too many miniature plot threads popping up. And that's what I felt happened with the fate of the stolen children and with the scorpion-like beings that were introduced toward the end. This was a fantastic book about the apocalypse, and angel politics, and two people with their own agenda who come to care for each other. I felt that the introduction of these new threads toward the end hurt an otherwise great story by making it unnecessarily complicated. I also felt that these new threads felt like tricks to hook me for the next book--and I don't like that at all. Hook me because I'm interested in the story and the characters, not because you introduce new weirdness at the end.
One more thing that annoyed me was Penryn's mother. First of all, for the record, I was offended by the repeated use of the term "crazy" to refer to someone who was schizophrenic. I hope this is something that will be addressed in later books, in the form of Penryn learning that her view of her mother is wrong in some way. Second, the mother kept showing up randomly in places that Penryn had worked hard and traveled far to get to. Is the mother magic? What? How? That just wasn't logical for me. Way too much coincidence to be believable.
But still, a great read. I'll pick up the next book because I want to know more about Raffe and about what the angels will do next. I guess I'm willing to put up with Penryn too.