I didn't know when I was handed the ARC of Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. I thought it had a cool cover, sure. But I didn't know what was coming. I didn't know that I'd be willingly skipping over sleep, meals, and deeply considering tapping into my PTO balance just so I wouldn't have to count down every single second of my work day until I could get back to this story. I didn't know that it would rip my heart out stamp it into the dust. I didn't know that it would leave me breathless, dying for just one more page. I didn't know that it would have me raiding my niece's room to (thankfully!!) find a pad of clear post-it notes so that my hands could stop itching to annotate every page.
I didn't know that I was holding the best book I'd have read in my life so far by the time I finished it.
The incredible main character of Fourth Wing is Violet Sorrengail. She's spent her life between the shelves of the Archives, waiting for the day when she can enter the Basgiath War College and start training as a Scribe--those who record and protect the history of Navarre. The morning of Conscription day, though, Violet is forbidden from joining anything but the Riders Quadrant by her cold-as-ice mother, who happens to be the commanding general of the Navarrian army. She assures Violet, in no uncertain terms, that if Violet tries to defect to the Scribe Quadrant, her mother will very publicly (and painfully) remove Violet and return her to the Riders Quadrant. Death lurks with every gust of wind in the Riders Quadrant--beginning with the walk into the wing of Basgiath that is to become Violet's fate: all Riders must walk the parapet, an inches wide bridge, hundreds of feet above a cliff, that connects the Riders Quadrant to the rest of the college. Nearly 20% of each class of potential riders die before they ever set foot into their Quadrant...and the death toll only rises from there.
Oh, and there's one detail about Violet: she experiences chronic pain. She has what is not directly named in the book, but is eerily similar to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and ostengenesis imperfecta. Violet has a very small, often referred to as frail frame, loose joints, and brittle bones. She doesn't look like what anyone would picture as a dragon rider: the strongest, toughest of all of the students at Basgiath and in the Navarrian army. But are big muscles and strong bones what define strength?
Speaking of big muscles and (ahem)...there's also Xaden Riorson. The one person that Violet's sister Mira warns her to stay away from. But, the dude looks like Ben Barnes, with his Prince Caspian hair and all the swagger of the Darkling, and he's absolutely perfect in the way that only a morally grey fictional man can be.
Yeah, someone knocked Lorcan Salvaterre out of the #2 Best Fictional Man Ever Written spot...but don't worry, Aaron Warner is holding strong at #1.
I genuinely could not put this book down. I was hooked from the first chapter, and the story was so incredibly well written that I'm just in awe, struggling to come up with any words that would adequately describe how monumental it felt to read. The chronic pain representation alone is beautiful, and there are so many scenes that really drive home the importance of consent, trust, loyalty, and courage, even when facing impossible odds. I'm just utterly blown away, and left virtually speechless.
I'll have three copies: my prized possession of the ARC, the signed/personalized copy I ordered just before the deadline and about three chapters into the book, and a third copy that I can re-read and transfer over all of the post it annotations I started halfway through the book.
If you only listen to me once in your life (okay, twice because I stand by my statements that you should always always ALWAYS practice skincare and USE YOUR SPF), listen to me now and read this book. My stomach is going to be in shambles until the sequel comes out in November.
Order your copy of Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros here--it releases Tuesday, May 2 so it'll be here before you know it! Then please, I am begging you, reach out to me so we can gush about it because I'm never going to have enough people to talk about this book with.
Love and shattered windows (IYKYK),
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book for free and have voluntarily written this review with my honest feedback. If you purchase a copy of the book using my Amazon affiliate link above, I will receive a small commission which I will use to justify my literary addictions and to spoil my dogs (probably).