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Dragons and Dilemmas: A 'Fourth Wing' Review

Rating: 3/5 ⭐️

"Fourth Wing" by Rebecca Yarros starts off quite interesting. Violet Sorrengail, a student, steps into a "school" filled with danger where it's perfectly fine to kill your fellow classmates in order to weed out the weak and become a dragon rider, get magical abilities and defend your kingdom. But first, you have to survive the trek up to the "School". The premise is instantly gripping, echoing the magical vibes that many fantasy lovers crave.

The book shines in its world-building. Yarros crafts a universe where dragons, combat, trials, magic, and a school with its own dark secrets come to life. It’s easy to get lost in this world. The introduction of Xaden Riorson brings in sappy romance with hint of a lot more. He’s not your typical antihero - he’s overly handsome, a leader with a gruff, no-nonsense attitude, and a know-it-all who excels at everything.

Violet is a mix of uncertainty, self-doubt and Teenage angst. She is also the chosen one, like Harry Potter. She didn't want to be a dragon rider but is thrust into it because of her mother. She is small, weak and apparently a disadvantage to her whole faction because of her stature. She is instantly infatuated with Xaden and likes to dole out detailed account of her physical attraction to Xaden to a nauseating degree. It’s a narrative choice that might not sit well with every reader.

Dain, Violet’s childhood friend, is another character that stirs mixed feelings. His lack of boundaries is noticeable and somewhat unsettling. However, Yarros does provide an explanation, offering a glimpse into his motivations, though it doesn’t entirely absolve the discomfort his actions induce.

The book has its highs but also its lows. There are sections in the later half of the book that feels like it veers into erotica, with Violet’s detailed account of her having sex with Xaden. It feels graphic, and I question its necessity in the grand narrative. It’s a departure from the core fantasy theme, and for me it was jarring. I came very close to throwing the book at the very bottom of my bookcase and never looking at it again.

The ending, while packed with action and revelations about the marked faction and dark wizards, reminded me of dark mages in The Dragon Prince Netflix show who did Earth magic or something of that sort which corrupted them. One of the other fantasy narratives, Violet’s victory over seemingly undefeatable foes, who are a myth and have never been beaten in the nation's history is a bit hard to swallow. The revelations about Navarre and her brother are interesting and it adds to the world building.

"Fourth Wing" is a mix of the captivating and the contentious. The world-building is a standout, but certain character behaviours and explicit content can be off-putting. The ending, with its mix of action and revelation, is engaging but not without its flaws. It’s a book that takes you on a journey - there are moments of sheer brilliance and others that make you question the narrative choices.

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