Monday, July 6, 2015

The Awakener (The Watchers of Men #1) by Amanda Strong Review

Hey readers. Ethan here on this sunny July Monday to bring you a review I've been dying to share with you all. You guys know I read quite a bit and most of them are new and upcoming reads. Unfortunately, thanks to my schedule, I don't have a lot of time to go back and read older novels. So far, July is shaping up to be a slower month for me so I am taking advantage and trying to catch up on my backlog of books from some authors I've been so excited to read from. I hope you guys are ready. First on the chopping block? The Awakener, the first novel in The Watchers of Men series by Amanda Strong. Before we get to my thoughts, here's a bit about the novel and our author:

Seeing Micah for the first time in years, Eden wants nothing more than to run and hide. Tall and handsome, Micah is no longer the scrawny kid she remembers. Eden tries to slip by him unnoticed but unfortunately, her body acts on its own accord. In a moment of sheer embarrassment, she throws her arms around his neck, unaware she's just changed her childhood friend forever.
With his eyes opened to the realm of angels and demons, Micah soon discovers he has become the Seer, called to save the world from the flames that will cleanse the earth to start it anew. Shy and awkward, Eden stumbles through high school clueless, her guardian angel shadowing her every move, and keeping her safe while she unknowingly “awakens” others to their spiritual gifts. Micah will not only need those Eden has touched to complete his mission, he will need Eden in ways neither one of them thought possible.

With angels and demons fighting around them in a battle that began long ago in the ancient City of Enoch, both Eden and Micah must find their own personal courage in order to triumph.

For if they fail, they could lose everyone they love.


Born in Dekalb, Illinois, Amanda Strong has called Utah, Arizona, Hawaii, Virginia and now New Mexico home. Amanda has been spinning tales since she was a child. Her family still remembers finding young Amanda with her bright pink glasses, hiding in random corners of the house while scribbling away in one of her many spiral-bound notebooks. You could say that some things never change since Amanda is still writing today. Amanda began her writing career when she uploaded The Awakener, her first full-length novel, on Wattpad where it received over 430,000 reads in four weeks. She was blown away and humbled by the reader support and feedback she received. When Amanda isn't writing, you can find her chasing her three rambunctious children around the house and spending time with her wonderful and supportive husband. On some occasions you can still find Amanda with her not-so-pink glasses, hiding in a corner reading her favorite young adult fantasy novels or working out only to blow her diet by eating ice cream.                                                          
 Find Amanda Strong

My Thoughts

Oh wow readers, I don't even know where to start with this one. I first came into contact with Amanda Strong about a year ago when I first started working with Clean Teen Publishing and heard all these incredible things about her works. Unfortunately, time got in the way and I haven't had the time to devote to her works, until now! And boy and I kicking myself for waiting. I cannot believe this hidden gem of the literary world has been hiding from me for so long. It. Was. Amazing. 

First let me start out with my few hesitations and critiques, as per my norm. 

This is a paranormal angels vs. demons story at its' core, but it's way different than any novels I've ever previous read in the genre. Why? Because Amanda Strong went the extra mile to build a very detailed and specific background and historical foundation for her novel. That being said, any history that ties in with angels and demons is going to deal with religion. This is a pain point for some of my readers so I want to point it out. By no means was the novel preachy, but you need to have at least a working understanding of Christianity and faith before diving into this novel, otherwise I'm afraid you won't enjoy it as much. That being said, I enjoyed each and ever words I devoured. You don't have to be a religious scholar to appreciate the work that Strong has put into this history. While it has it's roots in history, she definitely takes a few liberties, placing this one in the 'historic fiction' category in that sense. 

This novel is an extremely clean novel. No foul language, no sex, and very few adult situations. It's probably one of the cleanest novels I've read so far this year. While it didn't bother me at all, I know some readers are a bit put off at a 300+ novel with all PG -content. While a few curse words and a bit more age-appropriate romance certainly wouldn't have offended me, I found the novel to be fantastic even in its' current state.

Now that we've got the negatives out of the way, let's rave.

I think what really made me fall in love with this story the most was the uniqueness of the plot. Being such a history-buff myself, I am familiar with a lot of the narrative that Strong fed from for this series and I believe she wrote it to perfection. Ancient history or even biblical history often doesn't give a lot to work with, it's often times up to the interpreter to make their story their own. Strong did an incredible job of crafting her own narrative from one with very little information. It takes true talent to build an intricate story as this with what we are given. I won't say much because I don't want to give away the story, but fans of angel vs. demon stories are going to absolutely devour this read, I sure know that I did! 

So I'll go ahead and mention that this series has a huge cast of characters. Huge. Like, so many characters that I wish I had a character map. Just a warning. From the beginning basic storyline of the friendship and budding romance between Micah and Eden, the characters explode out of the background. Micah's friends. Eden's friends. Family. Neighbors. School teachers. Angels. Demons. Guardians. The list goes on and on, I would probably estimate that there are fifty characters in this first novel and that 30 of them are of extreme importance. Seriously, this isn't a read you can brush over, it's a massive tome that demands your fullest attention. I can assure you, however, that the reader is greatly rewarded by the end.

As I mentioned in my critiques, Micah and Eden are very safe. They're teens with teenage issues, but we really don't see much of them. They play it safe and work towards their goal with very little 'teenagery-ness' in-between. While I can respect that, I am hoping for a bit more maturing in book two.

I'm not sure if any of my readers are familiar with Digimon or not, but this novel really had some aspects that really reminded me of such. Seven kids, each with a special power are singled out, collected, and given a powerful guardian being to watch over them while they fight evil. While not completely in the same realm as Digimon, I saw a few comparisons and I loved it. I just thought I'd point that out, being the huge nerd I am.

The settings for The Awakener was numerous and all written to perfection. From their sleepy, yet ritzy, hometown to the ancient city of Rome, Amanda Strong does an incredible job describing her settings in such a way that the tone is set for each scene. Be it an ominous feel, suspense, or even a fun scene of reflection and relaxation, Strong really knocks it out of the park. Towards the end of the novel we really being to see some action that is reflected perfectly in the setting of the story. I won't give anything away, but it's definitely something to watch for.

The Awakener deals with many, many mature themes: spirituality, faith, accepting responsibility, and death. It's only through overcoming all of these themes and gaining an acceptance of their fate are our casts of characters best able to determine the future best for them. They come together in such a perfect way to creature such a bond that Strong has created beautifully through the weaving of her words. These themes are by far the most mature thing about this novel and it will leave even the most seasoned of readers pondering their own lives. It was truly a thing of beauty.

As you can seem regardless of the few critiques I had of this novel, I still loved every second of this read. It was a big jump for me and it didn't end up being anything like I originally envisioned. The Awakener is an incredible read: original, captivating, and a page-turner until the very end. Amanda Strong is an author I will most-definitely be adding to my 'watch' list!

All-in-all I am granting The Awakener by Amanda Stong a well-deserved 5-star review. I devoured this novel and absolutely cannot wait to catch up on the rest of the series. Anyone who is looking for a new read that's unlike anything they've read before will definitely want to add this one to their TBR!


Alright readers, that's all I have for you on the topic of The Awakener by Amanda Strong. Don't worry though, I'm nearly 1/3 of the way through its' sequel, Holy and the Fallen, and will be sharing my thoughts on it SOON! Make sure to grab your FREE copy of this one ASAP. It's free on all retailers. Also make sure to go tell Amanda hello, she's a great lady! Until next time, Happy Reading!


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