Book Review - Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

Fourth Wing is high action fantasy that is unrelenting. And what a delight it is! While it's by no means perfect (more on that later), I can say there is no other book I had more fun with this year. In fact, outside of Strange the Dreamer, I can't think of another book that I devoured so thoroughly, and then said, "wait... I have to wait how long for the next one?"

This is going to sound dismissive, but it's not meant to be: Fourth Wing is a Harry Potter meets Hunger Games meets Game of Thrones high fantasy adventure. In this fantasy world, when students hit 18 they choose their vocation. For a long while, our protagonist Violet prepares herself to become a scribe--a keeper of records and history. But her mother, who is the general of this land, enters her to become a dragon rider. And it's these Dragon Riders, who are tested through a year-long lethal gauntlet where few survive. As Dragon Riders are tested, the war on the frontlines is clearly advancing, and there is more than a good chance these novice riders will be pushed to fight.

Nothing about Yarros tale feels original. This is a hero's journey through and through, and it hits all of those notes. But Yarros has a way of meeting your prediction, and then saying, "but also..." and an unexpected addition will circumvent your expectations. It's a neat trick, and I'll be damned, it happened no less than a dozen times. It's clever, riveting and so much fun.

What I appreciate about Fourth Wing, without giving too much away, is it doesn't outwear it's welcome. I would have been satisfied with just the Hunger Games portion with Violet trying to survive, but the text manages to open up the story and go well past that. Once we're in open terrain, the book has time to breath with its characters, and we get to know Violet outside of just internal dialogue and claustrophobic action. 

Fourth Wing was destined to become my favorite book of the year; however, the writing leaves something to be desired. As much as Yarros' action and plot are top notch, the writing falters. Despite the many adult interactions and violent backdrop, the writing never feels never quite feels sophisticated to support that. But the biggest problem is with Violet who often feels petulant. I understand young woman renegade; what I don't understand is her default into giving people the finger. I also struggled with details that felt anachronistic. Some of the earthly elements pulled me out to say, "they have what in this fantasy world?" 

Nevertheless, I managed to overlook those moments. Despite some eye rolling, you will be hard pressed to find more fun this year. Knowing this is just a two book series has me amped for the sequel, and I cannot wait. A five star adventure more than worthy of your time.

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
Release Date: May 2nd, 2023
MSRP: $16.99

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