I read the TikTok-viral fantasy novel 'Fourth Wing' and it lived up to the hype
Warning: Minor spoilers ahead for Rebecca Yarros' book "Fourth Wing."
"Fourth Wing" follows Violet Sorrengail as she tries to survive training to become a dragon rider.
TikTokers have been raving about the book, and I couldn't stop thinking about Yarros' world once I started reading it.
The phases of my adolescence can be marked by whatever fictional world was my companion at the time.
Cornelia Funke's "Inkheart" series captured my heart when I was 12, offering me comfort as protagonist Meggie Folchart fumbled into her teen years the same way I did.
When I turned 14, I fell head over heels for "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer, not realizing how my idolization of Edward Cullen and Bella Swan's relationship may have inspired my crushes on boys who were anything but nice to me.
In my later teen years, I devoured Cassandra Clare's "Mortal Instruments" series, wept over the finale to Veronica Roth's "Divergent" trilogy, and became convinced the key to true love was finding a fairy after reading "Eragon" by Christopher Paolini.
Looking back, these works all scratched the same itch. They provided equal doses of romance, adventure, and magic, allowing me to fully turn my brain off when the stress of reality became too much.
I've been delighted by the rise of adult fantasy romances sweeping bookshelves
Works like "A Court of Thorns and Roses" by Sarah J. Maas and "The Serpent and the Wings of Night" by Carissa Broadbent give me the same feeling the fantasy novels I loved in my teen years did.
But they include more mature themes, especially when it comes to the romance, which makes me like them even more.
I'm always on the hunt for the next fantasy romance book, and my interest was piqued when I saw TikTokers raving about "Fourth Wing" by Rebecca Yarros, which was released on May 2.
The book, which is the first installment in the "The Empyrean" series, follows Violet Sorrengail, a 20-year-old who grew up thinking she would enter the Scribe Quadrant when she came of age. But instead, her mother, who is the general of Navarre, forces her to enter the Rider Quadrant, where she must train to become a dragon rider — or die.
The odds are stacked against Violet, as she was born with a particularly fragile body, and she hasn't spent her life training to be a rider like the others in her class, most of whom would be willing to kill her for their own chance at survival.
Violet not only has to find a way to survive her studies and the war looming in her country, but she also has to deal with Xaden Riorson, her wing leader, a powerful dragon rider, and a stunningly handsome man who has every reason to want Violet dead.
'Fourth Wing' was everything I hoped it would be
Knowing that "Fourth Wing" included dragons, an enemies-to-lovers romance, and an unlikely hero, I was cautiously optimistic when I downloaded the book to my Kindle, hoping it was as good as the BookTokers I follow say it was.
But I didn't expect to find myself staying up until the wee hours of the morning to finish the book, unable to put it down because of how engrossed I was in Yarros' world.
I was immediately drawn into Violet's story when I started "Fourth Wing" because the fantasy was smart and easy to digest, and Violet attending classes gave the plot structure.
Yarros' characters also felt their age, which I think was made easier by the fact that there weren't hundreds of years between Violet and the other magical beings around her, as is common in other fantasy works (like, say, the 500-year-old age differences you'll find in "A Court of Thorns and Roses").
The romance between Violet and Xaden ticked all of my boxes as well. Their chemistry jumped off the page, and Yarros clearly enjoyed building the tension between them as her narrative evolved.
And most importantly for me, Yarros used Violet as a way to play with different forms of strength. Violet didn't have to become physically the strongest person in the Riders Quadrant to chase her dreams, and following her as she figured out how her own gifts could help her survive was as inspiring as it was exciting.
The dialogue wasn't always perfect, and there were some elements of Yarros' story that felt familiar to me as someone who reads a lot of fantasy. The school structure was reminiscent of the factions in "Divergent," and the pairing of magical creatures and riders reminded me a bit of "Eragon" and Sarah J. Maas' other series "Throne of Glass." But I didn't mind, as it offered me a sense of nostalgia as I allowed the real world to slip away while I invested in Violet's.
I couldn't keep my mouth shut about "Fourth Wing," yammering at my partner, my sister, my coworkers, my friends, and anyone else who would listen about my stress over what would happen to Violet until I finished it.
And when the book was finally over, I felt unsatisfied, desperate to know what would happen to Violet next. Luckily for me, Yarros plans to write four more books in the series, and the second installment, "Iron Flame," is also set to be released in November.
It doesn't matter what age I am, I'll always be looking for that next fictional world to escape to — and I'm grateful for authors like Yarros who want to keep that magic alive.
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