Thursday, April 18, 2024

Fourth Wing - Rebecca Yarros

It's a perk of my job that I get to read things I'd never normally bother with even if the quality of that reading is uneven. Forth Wing was a massive break out hit for Rebecca Yarros last year, pre-orders for the first of it's planned sequels (Iron Flame) broke records. Yarros wasn't a debut author, but before Fourth Wing if she had any profile in the UK I was unaware of it. Fantastic fiction shows a decade's worth of publications to her name. 

I won't be reading any of them, and probably won't read the rest of the Empyrean series either (we're 2 books into a planned 5). Fourth Wing was fun but as I'm neither a young, nor a new, adult I'm not really the target audience for hundreds of pages of dragons, war and rebellions, characters who are barely more than children, or tortured love affairs with implausibly hot men. There isn't necessarily an age limit on enjoying any of those things - there's no judgement on anyone's reading tastes for loving this, and if you're a Sarah J Maas fan, as millions are it's a great place to go. 

I'm also really enjoying seeing this host of women making really huge money out of writing fantasy romance. No trend stays at the top forever, but I don't see this one going very far away either because again, it's a fun combination which has provided endless inspiration for book tok creativity and fan theories - I do not think these books would do as phenomenally well in a pre-internet world. 

What works about Fourth Wing is the breakneck pacing of it, the quippy dragons, and the way Yarros, who is a military wife, builds a world in an elite military training school. There's a touch of Top Gun with dragons about it that's surprisingly effective, and if I don;t know a mass about army life, any war film I've ever watched fits with what I see here. I don't know that either Xaden or Violet are particularly appealing or original characters, but they certainly fit the tropes well enough, and at least Yarros doesn't make them unfeasibly wise beyond their years - and there isn't a  cringy sort of age gap between them either (I'm looking right at you Sarah J Maas).

The reasons I'm not hugely enthusiastic even if I was entertained? Once you stop reading and start thinking a ton of stuff doesn't make sense, The constant insistence that Violet is not only frail but the weakest link in the team (wing) despite having the survival abilities of a cockroach got tired long before the end of the book, the whole thing feels derivative (Naomi Novik's Scholomance series, Sarah J Maas everything, Discovery of Witches, and endless other iterations along the same lines) or maybe it's just extremely well trodden ground. 

It'll be interesting to see if the series can sustain its momentum, or if it fizzles out before the end - read if you can suspend your disbelief, like a bit of romantacy and don't want to be over taxed. 

1 comment:

  1. Love your comments. "Fourth Wing" is a bit of dark academia when you factor in the school aspect, but the romance fantasy definitely comes in later in the book. The romance having none of the awkward first time of learning about a partner. It was definitely the dragons and their quirky wit that led me to finish the book. I agree that Violet's fragility and inside knowledge get a bit old. Not sure yet if I might try another in the series. Too many other books are calling. Take care.