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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Fourth Wing (The Empyrean #1) by Rebecca Yarros

The first in this dragon rider series by Yarros is full of dramaaaaatic teen angst, a cutthroat path to becoming a warrior, bucking expectations, a looming war--and, my favorite element of the story, dragons!

Fourth Wing is the first in Rebecca Yarros's Empyrean fantasy series, about a war college for dragon riders.

Twenty-year-old Violet was hoping to live out a studious, satisfyingly quiet future in the Scribe Quadrant.

That is, until the cutthroat commanding general--who also happens to be Violet's mother--pushes her to vie with the rest of Navarre's young people to secure spots in the select Riders Quadrant, as dragon riders.

Violet is smaller than average, without the drive to fight. But the war is raging, leadership is clearly keeping secrets, and working with the ruthless, deadly dragons is starting to feel like her best bet.

Aside from the dragons, my favorite element of the story is Violet's determined coping with and accommodations for her chronic illness and significant disability. She shows kickass stubbornness in the face of adversity--even if, within the book's various dangerous scenarios, it repeatedly seemed that Violet might well do herself in by ignoring and pushing through her physical issues while facing the impossible situations she is forced to endure.

I'm a fan of varying language and also of creative cursing, so at the risk of being a Grumpy Old Lady for mentioning this, I have to say that the word "fuck" appeared so frequently in the text as to feel irritating and distracting to me, so I counted: 257 instances in my electronic edition. The overuse of smirking and " a corner of [his/her] mouth lifts" for amusement, the "cupping" of cheeks for affection;

I was drawn out of the moment by multiple instances of odd tone shifts and what felt like repeated nonsensical or strange timing for characters' reactions (after a reminder that a classmate is dead, a character "quips," for example; the silly and youthful exclamation "I miss sex" seems to come out of nowhere; sexual innuendos seem to come at strange, inopportune times; a main character's repeated indignation at her safety's being doubted when she is clearly out of her element and in danger seems warranted, yet she persists in being outrageously offended over and over).

Some of the "bad guy" characters feel too easy to hate--they're so purely evil, so outrageously deserving of justice, that their comeuppance is assured from their first appearance on the page. Other characters aren't what they first seem, and while the initial enemies-to-maybe-lovers setup of the book is easily predicted, the attraction is fun to see as it grows, with complicated motivations and the weight of a nation's safety clouding the teens' love lives.

It makes sense that Yarros is the author of a romance series, Flight & Glory, as well as other romance titles. There are many dramaaaaaatic teen angst moments here ("As if knowing him would somehow make me want him less, but everything I learn about him only makes me tumble harder and faster"; "Is it absolutely toxic that I'm attracted to this look on him? Probably. But one look, and my temperature rises") and intense fixations on elements such as a character's "incredible scent" that stopped me at times.

And yet, this is a book about dragons, and I am typically all in on a book about dragons (see the link below to other dragon books I've read and reviewed).

So while I wished for a heavier editorial hand in the copyediting stage of this one, Fourth Wing was a fun read, and I loved the twist at the end of book one.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?


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