I've been meaning to write this review for weeks, but for some reason have been unable to fully form my thoughts about this book into coherent sentences (a strange occurrence for me, as it's common for my reviews to easily be 1000+ words). I think the dilemma of being able to form a concrete opinion about this book stems from the fact that I was equal parts satisfied and disappointed by the way that Penryn and Raffe's story ended, an odd juxtaposition of individual scenes I really enjoyed that led to an overall conclusion that felt lackluster.
End of Days picks up right where the action in World After leaves off, and there's enough recap that I was able to jog my memory despite not having read the first two books in about a year. The story jumps right into the romantic tension that's been brewing between Penryn and Raffe for the past two books, and Ee does not disappoint with giving readers some not too graphic yet satisfying scenes (and without compromising the integrity of the survival story, because there's only so much making out a character can do when they're also trying to save the world). I was truly curious to see how Penryn and Raffe would fare at the end of the trilogy, with such clear lines drawn between the angels and the humans, and Penryn and Raffe each feeling a deeper loyalty to their own kind than to their short, if intense, relationship. I appreciated that they didn't have the let's-throw-all-of-our-values-and-concern-for-fellow-human/angelkind-to-the-wind-because-we're-attracted-to-each-other mentality, and I was intrigued with how Ee brought in certain plot elements to create the climactic battle of the story. I especially loved the inclusion of Raffe's Watchers, her take on hell/"The Pit," and more glimpses into angel politics, although I wish more had been revealed about heaven/the celestial realm.
What I most enjoyed about the novel was how large a part the secondary characters played in the plot and final battle. Rather than used as a crutch to support Penryn's heroism, Penryn is very aware that she could not take on the angels without her fellow humans, as ragtag of a bunch as they may be. I continue to have an awe of Penryn's mother, who may be the most hilarious/fearless/badass supporting character I've ever come across in YA (even the angels are scared of her) and though Dee and Dum can seem overly silly at times, their wit and optimism is often what spurs Penryn into action and ideas. There was also a lot of character development for the angels, with Raffe's watchers being explored and Beliel's past being revealed, and I think it's a true testament to Ee's ability as a writer to not only be fair to her representation of her antagonists by developing their characters, but doing so in a way where I sympathized with them and understood their motivations while still abhorring their behavior. It made them wonderfully complex.
So with character development on point, creative mythology, and some swoon-worthy scenes, what went wrong for me? I would have to say it was the last third of the book. Once things started prepping for the big showdown, I couldn't help but think it was a little silly, if ultimately effective. I mean really, a talent show? I get that it was creative and in true Dee and Dum fashion, but I found it fell too far on the side of absurd to really appeal to me. I was really unsatisfied that after everything Penryn and Raffe had been through, there was such little time to explore their relationship at the end of the book, and certain things happened at the end that made me extremely frustrated because I felt like I went on a journey for a purpose and as soon as it was accomplished it was revoked again. I am talking, of course, about Raffe's wings. Seriously, THREE BOOKS of trying to get them reattached and then he gets them for a handful of chapters and trades them again? Obviously without a second thought for Penryn and humankind's well being, but still. (I apologize, I know some of these complaints are super vague but I don't want to spoil anybody!) And then there was the ending...which was...nice. "Nice" as in it checked the boxes of wrapping things up but it was no where near the unbelievable, horror-inducing, gut wrenching endings and emotions of the other books. It was like everyone just acted so nonchalant and normal, especially in the epilogue. After everything that had just gone down, I was expecting to be emotionally torn up for either better or for worse by the end.
Overall: Considering End of Days was one of my most anticipated books of 2015 that I pre-ordered months in advance, I wanted to convince myself that I was satisfied with it. Ultimately though, World After set up for a standard of storytelling that End of Days was unable to deliver, despite enjoyable individual moments within the narrative. The writing in End of Days is great, as always, the cover is beautiful, and it stayed true to its snark and crazy secondary characters that are oddly endearing. Yet it seemed to be missing the edge that set it apart from other YA paranormal romances/dystopians: the edge of horror, of desperation, of tension and of heartbreak. While I'm glad I read it, it fell short of the epic expectations the first two books in the series set up, and I just didn't feel it tug at my emotions the way Angelfall and World After did.