My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Having read the full series now, I feel ANGELFALL is still the strongest of the three, but END OF DAYS continues impressing with the massive imaginativeness, breathtaking scope, and amazingly solid-feeling world-building that Susan Ee has blown me away with from book one. I admit EOD has a few small cracks in the verisimilitude (and yes, despite how out-of-this-world crazy and up-ended this post-Rapture Apocalypse world is, Ms. Ee's deep understanding of real people and real emotions, both the ugly/self-serving and the beautiful/heroic/loving, makes you believe and buy absolutely every word and grisly detail Penryn encounters on her journey) that I hadn't seen in either of the first two books. They were generally minor quibbles (the overly contemporary/smart-alecky speech of certain angelic characters of the distant past (trying to keep this spoiler-free), for example), but unfortunately, the ending was peppered with quite a few of them, so that the twists felt slightly too-convenient/not fully believable at times.
Especially in and around the "final battle" and the conclusion, the relentlessly stacked and sometimes hard-to-buy twists made it ironically a little less suspenseful and satisfying than it could have been. I kind of got the sense while reading that entire last fourth of the book or so that Ms. Ee was finally getting fatigued--which, given how humongous a task writing such a huge and heart-wrenching series must've been, I can't blame her for at all. (I mean, seriously--can you imagine how much she must've had to edit and workshop the first book to death, just to make sure a wide audience would be able and willing to take the gigantic leaps of faith and imagination the subject matter demanded from the outset?)
And considering how the first two books, where it counted most, wildly succeeded at this (I've often described this series (especially book 2) as almost a "travelogue" because it smacked of such truth even in its most outlandish details that it felt like I was reading about a real place far removed from the places I knew, but which existed nonetheless in all its logic and beauty and ugliness), I honestly didn't feel at all upset/annoyed by the small cracks toward the end of EOD. In fact, if anything, given the amount of fatigue it must have taken to make such a perfectionist of a writer make slightly less than the 500 editorial passes I imagine the first two books got, I'm actually impressed that it held together as solidly as it did, even if it would've been nice to finish on as strong and epic/unforgettable a note as a series this huge deserved. (I wanted to call it a series "of Biblical proportions" just now, but given the decidedly liberal approach to the Christian canon this series takes, would that be wrong? ^^;;;;; I feel like it's richly deserved though--you could probably hold this series up besides Milton's "Paradise Lost" in its scope and epicness.)
Overall, it was still a perfectly satisfying ending, and the book as a whole continued to deliver the kinds of thrills and emotionally wrenching moments/choices that one would expect of the last book in this series. There were many beautifully written moments along the way (including Penryn's frank, brave, and vulnerable coming-to-terms with her own sexuality, etc). I can't recommend this bold, brilliant, wildly imaginative series with its unique, strong and sharp-witted but flawed/growing heroine enough and will wait with bated breath for whatever Susan Ee puts out next! :-)
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