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So, I Finally Read Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros (book review)

GENRE: Adult Fantasy Romance
LENGTH: 498 pages
 
PLOT
Violet Sorrengail has spent her life training to be a scribe, but her general mother forces her to attend Basgiath War College and train to be a dragon rider. There she meets Xaden, the son of a notorious rebel.
 
CHARACTERS
Violet is very much an underdog character as she’s described as physically frail and hasn’t prepared to be a rider like her fellow cadets. I really love as a reader when I get to witness a characters’ journey as they come into their own. I was very much rooting for Violet the entire book.
There isn’t necessarily a love triangle in this book but Violet does initially have romantic feelings for her childhood friend, Dain. The ways Dain and Violet’s eventual love interest Xaden treat her are quite contrasting. While I liked Dain at the start those good feelings faded fast because of the way he coddled Violet and ultimately held her back. Xaden, meanwhile, challenged her and taught her to defend herself. In my opinion, Xaden actually respects Violet more than Dain. I know enemies to lovers is a super popular romance trope but I typically don’t like it. However, Xaden really won me over alongside Violet.
There are too many side characters to really get into them all in detail but the main antagonist is another cadet, Jack, who wants to kill Violet. My personal favorite side character is Xaden’s friend Liam, a fellow son of a rebel, who is kind and loyal.
 
WRITING
The novel is told from the first person perspective of Violet. At the top of every chapter there are short excerpts from books within the novel’s world – quite appropriate given Violet grew up in the archives informally training to be a scribe. The novel has several reveals towards its conclusion which set up the next book nicely. One of them is sure to shock but the other is well foreshadowed and so its eventual arrival feels satisfying but not surprising.
The world building and magic system is simplistic but effective. I’d argue that comparable titles would be Divergent by Veronica Roth and Naomi Novik’s A Deadly Education. The first book I’d compare for the training style the dragon riders go through. It reminded me of the training characters in the Dauntless faction undergo. The second book I compare because both are fantasy books set in schools so dangerous that the students are unlikely to make it to graduation.
I am of two minds about the way the dragons are written in this world. They are personified, able to speak the same language as their riders through telepathy. I like how much personality Yarros is able to infuse into the dragons because of this. However, as a fantasy lover the entire appeal of dragons for me is that they’re these enormous, fantastical and unpredictable creatures that could never exist in the real world. Personifying them somehow makes them less impressive because it makes them appear much tamer and less threatening. Even still, the scenes of the characters riding on dragonback are just as epic as I was hoping.
I have one big gripe about the world building of this novel and that’s how for most of the novel we are unaware of the cause of the rebellion. I understand why there are secrets within Basgiath regarding it, but we the readers aren’t even fed any information on what spurs it – be it truthful or otherwise - for most of the novel. This feels like a pretty big oversight.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I am happy to have finally read this book because I feel like one of the last people to do so and the hype was INSANE. Every opinion I heard was hyperbolic and I think the truth falls in between the two extremes. Is it groundbreaking fantasy? Definitely not. Is it a fun book with dragons and a sizzling romance? Yes.

FINAL RATING: 4⭐️
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