World After by Susan Ee
My rating: 3.5 of 5 teacups
World After ticks a lot of boxes but it simply isn’t as strong a story as we were given in Angelfall. I don’t know how many books are planned for this series but it seems to fall prey to what would be called “middle book syndrome” in a trilogy. The story plods along, giving the novel a weighted feel which made it easy to put aside at times (something that could never be said for the previous book). My rating leans towards the positive because I did enjoy this sequel – Ee has a talent for balancing gory, gritty action scenes with playful and hilarious banter – but I admit that I was expecting something more from possibly my most anticipated book of this year. Still, the last fifty pages exploded with flashes of everything I love – action, humour, unexpected plot turns and romance – and I adore Penryn enough to know I will be returning for more.
Readers will surely recognise the author’s delightfully sarcastic touches of humour straight away – I found myself laughing aloud multiple times, even when I’d been cringing in horror and sat tense on the edge of my seat just moments earlier. I think this is what I like most about Ee’s writing: she somehow manages to make it both creepy and funny at the same time. This rarely works for me; I almost always find the humour draining the scary atmosphere out of each scene or the jokes falling flat amid the descriptions of gore… but Ee makes it work perfectly. Penryn is as badass as ever, always in the centre of the battle and fighting for the ones she loves. Raffe also returns (though not often enough if you ask me) for hilarity and sexual tension.
My main issue is the lack of progression in this book. Angelfall took us on a wild journey that presented us with so much fascinating information, angel lore and complexly-woven characters and relationships. World After, on the other hand, takes baby steps and reminds us of many things we already know: that Penryn feels conflicted about her newly monstrous sister, that she and Raffe have the hots for one another, etc, etc. While it wasn’t a bad read, I felt like it could have all happened in a few chapters rather than spread over an entire book. The greatest progress made by this sequel is in the character development of Penryn’s mother. She becomes more than the token crazy person in World After and we see her for what she really is: a confused but intelligent woman who loves her children very dearly. This aspect of the book was fantastic, IMO.
A good sequel that could have been better with more careful plotting and pacing – perhaps the author intends this series to be longer than it needs to be (as is often the case). But I enjoyed World After a lot and I’m not surprised to see other reviewers expressing their continued love. I just hope the third book doesn’t take so long!