The Rise of Ren Crown
The Rise of Ren Crown finds Ren immediately after the brutality of Bloody Tuesday, facing the unexpected aftermath. The Department is on a manhunt, determined to root out Ren and leash her extraordinary magic at any cost so they can use it as they see fit. Interrogations, lock-downs, panic and fear coalesce on top of the unimaginable grief permeating throughout campus. And Ren is left broken and lost, unsure of what she needs to do next.
Bloody Tuesday left the campus in shambles and everyone is scrambling restore some semblance of order. Determined to protect its students, campus goes on lockdown and orders mandatory health and magic check-ups, as well as evaluations of roommate status. Ren is faced with the devastating reality of just how broken her magic is, and in order to repair it, she cannot use it. On top of the struggle to use her magic only when absolutely necessary (which for Ren, means only in small amounts that won’t drain her too much), she is desperate to restore her magical family.
My magic is twisted like pumpkins placed too closely together in a patch, then left to rot.
In order to do this, Ren teams up with Axer Dare once again, counting on the brilliance and cunning of her circle of friends in the club to provide the necessary distractions. Venturing deep within the Midlands, Ren and Axer have a close encounter with the department flunkie, Kaine – a mage who uses shadows to do his dirty work, while remaining cloaked and hidden. Kaine is the right-hand man of Enton Stavros, the head of the Department and the one who could ruin everything for Ren. But desperation and cunning lead Ren to a startling discovery – and a chance to save her best friend.
In an attempt to restore life back to normal, campus restarts classes and Ren is faced with a brand-new challenge – surviving her Layer Politics class. With her secret becoming not-so-secret when it comes to her classmates, Ren starts to realize she has a chance to truly fix things. She is determined to learn just how she can do that, and works closely with her friends, but also with some of her professors to formulate new techniques and uses for her unique magic. But underneath it all, Ren remains vigilant for a chance to save her best friend and decides to take things into her own hands – landing her in a foreign land with unforeseen consequences just around the corner, should things go horribly wrong.
Faced with yet another battle, Ren quickly adjusts to the unexpected surprises that pop up everywhere, fighting her way towards her ultimate goal. But not everything is as it seems, and Ren has to make some tough decisions – before everything she knows and loves is ripped away.
And if I can secure the futures of everyone I love, then I will, first and foremost.
The Rise of Ren Crown is a beautiful showcase of Anne Zoelle’s superb writing and her unlimited imagination. Rise continues to build upon the foundation of the layer system as we know it, revealing the ongoing political struggle and exposing how the other layers have been effected. When Ren is shocked by how broken the world truly is, I was just as shocked. Zoelle’s writing is so immersive, each revelation Ren has and each adventure she goes on, makes me feel like I’m right beside her for every moment. The desperation of Ren as she discovers just what is happening in the Third Layer is poignant and beautiful, even as it is heartbreaking and terrible.
Seeing the devastation firsthand - feeling it - was a lot different than reading about it and abstractedly observing pictures
Rise also brings brand new characters, as well as developing the stories of the characters we already know. We finally get a look at the main bad guy, Stavros, and his evil henchman, Kaine, and let me just say – Kaine is beyond terrifying. His magic is so weird and creepy, every time he popped up in the story and interacted with Ren, I got chills (and I might have made sure all the shadows in my room were just shadows. Maybe.). Zoelle has done a stellar job in creating bad guys that just exude bad-guy-ness. I don’t think I’ve felt so strongly about the evil characters in a story since Voldemort in Harry Potter.
Scary? No. He's the thing of nightmares.
With each new book in the series, we get to see a little more of Axer Dare and as we learn more about him and his story, he becomes more genuine and more real. Up to now, Dare felt very much outside of Ren’s group and separate, an entity unto himself and only deigning to really interact with his fellow combat mages. Rise gives us a better idea of how much Axer is willing to risk so that Ren can remain safe and happy. And even though Ren is completely oblivious to Axer’s feelings, everyone else knows exactly what is going on – even Constantine.
"You are hot and brilliant and devious," I immediately ticked off on his asset list. "You're like a really pettable, but shitty cat."
It was a relief to see Ren allow her friends to help her shoulder the burdens she has long considered were hers alone. The fallout from Ren’s actions on Bloody Tuesday have split campus into two different camps – those who fear Ren and her magic, and those who are in awe of it. Nevertheless, her group of friends are steadfast and unwavering in their support. Even some of the professors are begrudgingly coming around, and I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that Doctor Greyskull is an incredible character. The different facets and opinions he has about Ren’s quest are definitely compelling, to say the least.
The Rise of Ren Crown concludes similar to how Zoelle has concluded the previous two novels. She ties up the main story line of that novel, and it feels satisfying, providing a good amount of closure. But she leaves things open enough for the next novel that you will be dying to get started on the next book – but minus the dreadful and unbearable cliffhanger that some authors are notorious for.
God and leper, that's what you are now, Crown.
Click the book covers below to read the reviews for the other books in the series!