Ren: Awakened

(This cover was recently updated on 1/21/17 after a new cover reveal was released. You can see more about the new cover art here.)
Ren: Awakened
By Brittany Quagan
Publisher:  Balboa Press
ISBN13: 9781504362948
Pages: 244
Genre: YA Fantasy/SciFi


Seventeen-year-old Ren Nagel knows that the strange things she’s seen are real–even if no one else believes her. But, when she’s locked up in a psychiatric hospital; she loses hope that anyone will ever truly be on her side.

Then everything changes. With the help of a new friend, Ren breaks out. It’s when she’s on the run that she learns who she really is.

Hunted by evil, Ren must learn to control a power she never knew she had, organize a coalition of people she never knew existed, and remind humanity why fighting the darkness is a big part of being human.

Sometimes, feeling different is much more than just a feeling. For Ren, it means the fate of the world.


Do not judge this book by its cover. While I think the illustrator did a decent job of presenting the characters, this cover did not truly convey what was in store as I picked up this little book with an interesting synopsis. That is not to say this is a terrible cover, but it just did not capture the true spirit of REN: Awakened. Sitting on a shelf, I may have passed this up. But as luck may have it, I was contacted by the author and received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

REN: Awakened is a hard book to sum up in words. While it may feel pretty familiar at times, it is also completely different. Many of us are no strangers to plots involving teens with “powers”  and the fight to save humanity. It is a concept that can still work though. It all boils down to presentation. So when I received my copy, I was hopeful, but not exactly prepared for how much I was going to enjoy Ren’s adventure.

Ren is complicated. Her life is complicated. At 17 years old, and having lived in and out of the system, she has struggled to make a home and friends. She doesn’t connect with anyone. She is different. She has never belonged. After collapsing in the school library, she is rushed to a local emergency department. A set of odd events then begin to occur then result in her admission to a psychiatric ward. Never has she felt more alone. But never has she been more wrong.

Enter Kiki, a girl who really doesn’t know Ren, but insists on helping her escape during a fire at the facility. Who is this odd girl? Why is she assisting Ren? It is not long until Ren uncovers the answers to this and so much more.  She soon begins to understand why she has never felt that she belonged.  Maybe she really didn’t. With new-found knowledge and friends, also comes a hefty responsibility. Ren plays a very important role in the fate off all humanity. A role she is not sure she is willing to accept.

I don’t want to reveal too much with the plot line here. You have enough to see the general picture, and again, it may feel familiar. But this is not a book to simply write off. Ren’s story is executed very well with a few surprises along the way. There is a completely original and solid system of magic and elements within Ren’s story that create a brand new experience.

The characters are somewhat mysterious in the beginning. The author manages to beautifully develop them through Ren’s discovery of the truth. As she learns more of who she is, we learn more of who they are. This is a story that revolves around revelations.

Ren is a credible teenage girl who has lived in the system. She is self-reliant, angry, and expresses a lot of what she feels through her witty sarcasm. At times, she is her own enemy. I enjoyed getting to know her. I wanted to know her. I felt for her, and while I was not able to fully relate to her, there was a connection. I cared enough to want to follow her on this journey.

“I’ll admit it; I wasn’t very good at making friends. I didn’t really have a strong desire to. When you feel like an outsider, you act like an outsider. When you feel like no one will understand you, you sort of set yourself up to be misunderstood. So I stayed in my lonely bubble.”
“Ren” from Ren: Awakened by Brittany Quagan

The supporting characters were not without their own appeal. Each expressed likable qualities with a hint of questionable actions at times. They contributed greatly to maintaining the intrigue and suspense surrounding the unfolding events. Kiki was fantastic and perhaps my favorite. Her inability to express appropriate emotions and eccentric behavior (she eats tinfoil and raw meat for starters) added some much-needed comedic relief at times.

“I enjoy ice cream. Yet another delectable product to come from the cow. And the flavor can be improved by topping it with tinfoil and raw bacon.”
-“Kiki” from Ren: Awakened by Brittany Quagan

The writing moves effortlessly forward. It is clean and imaginative, easily weaving a rich story that unfolds in a very steady and semi-fast past, but without sacrificing a single detail. There is a lot happening and every facet seems to have been thoroughly explored and presented properly, avoiding the unnecessary complexity that can happen. The importance of Ren and this story to the author resonates within each page, creating a memorable experience.  This easily would have been a “one sit” read, had I not chose to pick this up so late at night.

Would I recommend this REN: Awakened? Absolutely. To who? Fans of YA fantasy and maybe even science fiction. This small book is teeming with life and full of heart. With an ending that left me needing more, Ren’s journey is one I hope to continue following.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Purchase Ren: Awakened


32 thoughts on “Ren: Awakened

  1. I hate that covers are so important when it comes to drawing attention. Yet, I think you’re right, we all do it. We can’t pick up and read the synopsis of every book so we rely on the cover to draw us in. I’m really glad that this one worked out for you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review Danielle! & def a car Of never judge a book by its cover, it sounds so interesting. At first I thought it was a Graphic Novel at first glance TBH. Kiki sounds interesting & quiet with her love for tinfoil & bacon 😂😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh how cool, this sounds very interesting- I always enjoy reading reviews and finding out that the characters were well done and easy to connect with. Characters are the most important aspect for me reading a book…
    I agree that the cover mightn’t be the very best it could be but it kind of does have its charm as well… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely! There is a bit a appeal to this cover. I keep looking at it since I wrote the review. It is not bad at all, it just doesn’t capture the “spirit” 😊 I really enjoyed each character. It is the same for me. I need that connection with a book. Luckily it was here ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah this cover business at times.. I do not get it. I sometimes wonder whether it comes down to rights, finances, or something else I am missing. I have seen it several times this year.

      Of course you and I have already discussed how this could have a negative impact. I hope not with REN 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Okay I was going to comment on the cover too… I think they’re so important because see what happened here? Also with some of Aria’s books, I think the covers are pretty ugly and I usually love their books! They should get better designers haha Great review ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love your reviews. Every time I think the book would not be for me, you say things that make me believe I actually might enjoy it 😀 I would never have picked Ren-Awakened from a shelf, the cover does nothing to appeal me. The blurb is interesting but quite familiar. But it is your assertion that there’s more to the story that makes me extremely curious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks ❤ It was the first! The setting is really not the "world". It is more constructed through the characters and the revelations, plus a few things I will not spoil. There is a lot of potential for some serious world build with this though, so I am excited to see what happens. I was intrigued enough to read it in a few hours 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great review! I like the emphasis on the fact that we should not think its a typical story that we’ve already heard of before. I’m glad to hear that the characters were also quite relatable! Seems like the author succeeded to get you hooked there! 😛

    – Lashaan

    Liked by 1 person

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