Review: The Awakening of Ren Crown (Ren Crown #1) by Anne Zoelle

Image: @redbookpanda via Instagram

RATING: ★★★★

I tried to read this about a year ago, got through chapter one and then put it down. I thought I would try again as my mutuals on Twitter seemed to love it and I trusted them wholeheartedly. Let’s just say, I am glad I went back to this book and series. The Awakening of Ren Crown is a rich, deep, imaginative and engaging novel and I loved every single second of it!

In a world where layers of magic create worlds on top our own, protagonist Ren Crown desperately tries to resurrect her dead twin. But it’s not easy, while trying to fight justice, actually attend classes at one of the craziest magical schools there is, attempt to be on friendly terms with her roommates while also juggling projects and time eating in the Cafeteria, Ren is all over the place. She doesn’t sleep, she’s fighting one of the creepiest evils ever, she’s defeating creatures, gadgets all while trying to figure out and understand her own magic. The Awakening of Ren Crown portrays the struggle of not being able to let go of those we love when they’re gone, finding out who we truly are and what we are capable of. It’s captivating, intelligent and perfect for fans of fantasy and magic.

Despite the difficulty I found in first getting into this story as Zoelle spends a whole plethora of chapters building the world which, I can’t deny, is needed, this book is everything I could have asked for and more. Firstly, the writing is beautiful. It’s descriptive, it’s comedic and it makes you keep reading and reading until it’s 2am and really, you have to sleep.

Then there’s the overarching messages of the book. The exploration of human relationships, fitting in, or alternatively, not. Trusting your instincts, embracing your talents, believing that life is magic if we allow it to be. All of this draws together with a beautiful cast of characters, a bad-ass but vulnerable protagonist and a plot line that is beyond imaginative. In the end, the ultimate conclusion is that we create our own outcomes whether we know it or not and to spread that message to Young Adult readers or alike is beautiful.

For me, a book could have the worst plot ever but the best characters and I would still adore it. This book pulled through with it’s characters. Multi-layered with complex emotions and impossible goals, hard decisions and risks, every character is well-developed. Ren brightens up everything and everyone around her, she burns for the people she cares about. Her mind alone is such an exquisite place to be in and I loved the way she thinks. Her monologue is quirky with a dash of self-deprecation. She’s focused, determined, loyal, smart, nerdy and most definitely one of the best female MCs to be written.

Then there’s the secondary characters who make the best squad goals ever. Will is nothing but adorable. Constantine is brilliant, evil and most definitely the best partner in crime. I can tell he’s got more to him and definitely has a character development sub-plot up ahead in the next books. I found myself wishing for more Ren x Constantine interactions. Hopefully that will come in the sequel. Nepthys, Delila, Olivia. All of them have an extra layer to them, it was refreshing to read.

In addition, with the secondary characters comes girls supporting girls, platonic f/m friendships and important lessons. What more could you want?

The Awakening of Ren Crown is half magic, half friendship, and half comedy. The whole Justice Squad chapters had me in hysterics. The imagery of the magic is captivating and lived up to every expectation I had. If I had to describe this book with two words it would be: extremely emotional. As you read every chapter, you feel like you’re there alongside Ren on her journey, living every sad moment, rejoicing every little success, hungering for any mention of Constantine, being immersed and involved in the story. You can’t bear to put the book down and despite it’s length, you eat it up whole before you even know it.

However, there’s a reason I didn’t give this book 5 stars. Firstly, the resurrection plot was a bit too much at times. The whole found-family trope was done well but the resurrection trope was over-done and over the top. Yet, I am looking forward to seeing what the crew get up to in the next book.

Finally, Alexander Dare. Insta Crush? No. Condescending Deameanor? No thanks. Ugly. I really hope Ren grows out of her crush because Dare does nothing but look at Ren like she’s a pest despite the opening to the novel. He thinks he’s gods gift. He’s not.

This book is beyond the scope of imagination, it’s (pardon my French) fucking cool. I love the entire thing, the student run groups, the student admin, the student police, Ren’s friends, Ren, all of it. I can’t wait to continue the saga in The Protection of Ren Crown.