Today, we’re talking a little detour from the normal weekly blog post. Oh, yeah, there’s still a book to talk about, but I AM NOT recommending it for a book club. But I read it and I want to talk about it. If you’re on Bookstagram, you’ve probably seen it as you skimmed your feed.
This week, I want to talk about Fourth Wing by Rebecca Sorros. It’s a fantasy book released in May 2023 an was an instant New York Times Bestseller.
First, a warning. (The book even starts with its own trigger warning). This is an ADULT book, full of violence and injury. Also, there two very graphic sex scenes. (Full disclosure–I skimmed them, I don’t like reading that stuff.) I want to talk about this book, but I also acknowledge that it is not for everyone. In fact, I would caution discernment.
Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail was supposed to enter the Scribe Quadrant, living a quiet life among books and history. Now, the commanding general―also known as her tough-as-talons mother―has ordered Violet to join the hundreds of candidates striving to become the elite of Navarre: dragon riders.
But when you’re smaller than everyone else and your body is brittle, death is only a heartbeat away…because dragons don’t bond to “fragile” humans. They incinerate them.
With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. The rest would kill her just for being her mother’s daughter―like Xaden Riorson, the most powerful and ruthless wingleader in the Riders Quadrant.
She’ll need every edge her wits can give her just to see the next sunrise.
Yet, with every day that passes, the war outside grows more deadly, the kingdom’s protective wards are failing, and the death toll continues to rise. Even worse, Violet begins to suspect leadership is hiding a terrible secret.
Friends, enemies, lovers. Everyone at Basgiath War College has an agenda―because once you enter, there are only two ways out: graduate or die.
1. First, I thought this was an addictive, propelling book to read. I flew through the 528 pages in a weekend. It helped to break a reading slump. Earlier in the month, I trudged through a 550 page book that I put down after 450 pages…reading shouldn’t feel like work.
2. If you read Fourth Wing, tell me, did it feel like The Hunger Games and Divergent had simply grown up? The female hero is forced into a life of warfare that she didn’t choose. She is looked down upon because she is weak, small, doesn’t follow the rules or fit the mold. The adults believe in her though. As it goes along, we discover that she has incredible potential and then she struggles with the boundaries and limits of her power. There are enemies who are misunderstood and a love triangle (that really isn’t a real triangle). And then finally, at the end, she discovers things are not as she was told.
Is there a trope for this? Is this now a trope? Is this what readers who came of age during Hunger Games/Divergent era read next?
Maybe you don’t care about this, but I really want to talk about this–how they are the same and how they are different? And do we collectively feel about it? Apparently, I love this trope–so I’ll take all the recommendations.
3. We need to talk about sex and its place in books. Off the bat, I will admit that I am a bit of a prude. I don’t like to read or watch sex scenes. Those are intimate, personal, and I just don’t. They are bad for my head and my heart, so I avoid them. No judgement to you if you do differently. However, and this is one of my hesitations for even suggesting someone read such a book given how explicit the sex is. I skimmed those pages, basically just turning pages until the scene was over. Apparently, I missed a couple important (but also hilarious) details.
This is also part of my issue with the book I put down earlier this month, after reading 450 pages. Although there was a lot that I didn’t like about this book (I didn’t really like any of the characters), the way sex was discussed (which was not graphic in any way) made me feel icky. I just didn’t want to feel icky anymore, so I put the book down.
What I am asking right now though is, how many books, with stories that I would enjoy, feel off limits to me because I want to avoid those kinds of scenes? How do you manage that? Avoid the books? Skim the pages? Read it but put it out of your brain?
What about when you are surprised by it? (By this I mean, you are surprised that it is so graphic.)
I am really curious to hear what you think or do when you encounter such stuff. Let me know if in the comments or send me a message. I’d love to have a conversation about it.
And look, even if we’re not in a book club and it’s just a random book, there is just so much to talk about.