A Review-Based Student Publication of Townsend Harris High School

The Classic Critic

A Review-Based Student Publication of Townsend Harris High School

The Classic Critic

A Review-Based Student Publication of Townsend Harris High School

The Classic Critic

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros: A New, Yet Familiar Fantasy

Julia Chang

   The world of dragons, magical powers, falling in love with your sworn enemy, and deathly battles may seem familiar to most readers of the fantasy genre. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros chooses to embrace these characteristics of so many other fantasies we’ve loved while also crafting a thoroughly entertaining story that manages to feel like a breath of fresh air in a sea of hundreds of today’s most popular novels.

           Fourth Wing follows protagonist Violet Sorrengail, daughter to a powerful general in the country of Navarre, and part of a long line of some of the world’s most powerful dragon riders. Violet trains her whole life to become a scribe and becomes fascinated with her country’s history, wanting nothing to do with the harsh and violent training of riders. But when her mother forces her to enroll in the rider’s quadrant, she has no choice but to adapt to her new reality – or die trying. Her narration continues over months at Basgiath War College, where Violet and the other potential riders go through ruthless training in hand-to-hand combat, intense studies of the war going on around their country, and lessons on how to wield her newfound powers. It doesn’t help that her stone cold, annoying, and astonishingly handsome wingleader Xaden Riorson can’t ever seem to leave her alone. 

           In most bloody fantasy dystopias (take The Hunger Games or Harry Potter for example), readers are well aware that no character’s life is guaranteed throughout the entire story – except the protagonist’s. There’s a sense of comfort and trust placed on the author that makes us certain that the main character won’t be dying anytime soon. Fourth Wing possessed this sense of comfort to a much higher level. While other students at Basgiath are dropping like flies during sparring sessions or falling off of their dragons, Violet always seemed to find a miraculous way to end up surviving that often felt nearly impossible given the circumstances at the moment. Even when seven of her fellow students sneak into Violet’s room in the middle of the night as part of a plot for her murder, I was never doubtful that she would come out of the incident practically unscathed. While her main character syndrome (her belief that she was unlike any other character and somehow “special”) became visible at several points throughout the book, it was still easy to feel for Violet and resent the characters trying to bring her harm. 

           The “enemies-to-lovers” trope was also at play, and was executed in a believable and enjoyable way. Xaden possessed the perfect blend of guardedness and vulnerability you would want in a mysterious yet charming love interest. Even though the large majority of the book is told through Violet’s point of view, Xaden’s love for her is apparent enough to almost bleed through the pages. The slow buildup of their connection definitely paid off by the end, and you can’t help but root for their romance to succeed. 

           Additionally, what made this book stand out the most was the characterization and individuality of each dragon bonded to the different riders. They each possessed unique personalities and characteristics that made the idea of dragons flying around seem realistic. Even so, it was difficult for me to understand the full history of Navarre and its surrounding nations, and I had a hard time figuring out why there was constant fighting between nations. The world building was not Fourth Wing’s strong suit (why did all the characters have American-sounding names when the dragons had unique fantasy-esque ones?), but it was made up for in a strong cast of characters and exciting twists in every chapter.

           Overall, this book is perfect for fans of Divergent and other similar novels, and a sequel is set to be released on November 7th, 2023. Even if fantasy isn’t your usual genre of choice, Fourth Wing provides all the ingredients needed for a deeply entertaining and memorable read that will have you counting down the days to hear the story’s continuation.


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About the Contributors
Abigail Kronenberg, Literature Editor
Abby is a junior at Townsend Harris High School. She loves reading, Taylor Swift, boba, and chai lattes. You can find her on the soccer field with the school team or reviewing her latest read.
Julia Chang, Art Editor & OT Scriptwriter
Julia is a senior at Townsend Harris High School.
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    BubbeSep 8, 2023 at 8:41 am

    Well said!