FOURTH WING - Rebecca Yarros
Yarros had the AUDACITY to put all of my favorite things in one book?? *fans self* Dragons, fights to the death, enemies to lovers, and a perfectly accessible writing style have made this an addictive series to watch.
This book really said, "Let's combine everything that worked in a bunch of fantasy books before and mash them into something awesome." And it worked.
Fourth Wing has been all over the book community this spring. If you've somehow not heard of it yet, you will, and if you haven't broken under the hype train and tried this story out, then you are an insanely strong personality and I fear you.
I had no desire to avoid this hype train—I've been eagerly awaiting it since this book popped up on my Amazon "you might be interested in..." window in late 2022.
Dragon riders. A college segmented into quadrants. A quashed rebellion with lingering consequences. A longstanding war. Magic powers. A girl caught in the middle, tugged on by Fate.
I know, I know. We've heard those things before, right? That's like Eragon + Divergent + Deadly Education + Red Queen + [insert blockbuster series here].
But Y'ALL. When I tell you that I couldn't put this book DOWN, I mean that I literally took it into the bathroom with me so that I could keep reading it. (Outing myself here, but you need to hear me right when I talk about this level of obsession.)
I ignored texts for this book. I ignored meal times. Like I've already said, I took this book with me for calls of nature. Fourth Wing couldn't be stopped, and I was obsessed beyond reason.
Addictive is the only word I can use to describe this reading experience and the subsequent fandom hype that happens after you finish. Unlike some popular reads out there—where let's be honest, once you gain some distance you realize flaws and your passion fades—I don't see this happening with Fourth Wing. I'm days out from my first read and I'm still wishing I could dive back into this world.
This is so clearly a reaction review that I don't think I want to talk about anything specific in this story. The blurb pretty much covers it.
My only caveat for Fourth Wing is related to its fanfiction-like status as a remix of the greatest trope hits: Listen, I know this book isn't a unique snowflake. But I literally don't care.
There's something to be said for the talent required in taking an established set of ingredients and still baking something tasty that feels like a handmade treat tailored to you, you know?
Ride the wave, y'all. It's so much fun.
Thanks to the author for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
This debut came at me from left field! I cried, I laughed, I shouted "why" at the book. Let's just say I connected deeply to Tabitha's emotional journey through the author's skillful window into her world. A new favorite series for me!
I am so late this party—the third (and final?) book in this series is already out and I'm just now pulling up with my review of this first book. Oh well. Sometimes it's like that.
Black Girls Must Die Exhausted is that rare novel that completely transports you into the emotional journey of its protagonist. From page one, I was WITH Tabitha Walker in the way of all great storytelling. Tabitha very quickly became a friend.
Tabitha Walker did everything by the book—even down to the personal milestones. Have a good job. Have a good lifestyle routine. Have a nice-on-paper boyfriend. Have good relationships with her girlfriends. She's reaching for her next promotion and about to land a down payment for her first home. Things are looking good! Check, check, check.
But just as we meet Tabitha, her life freezes in place.
That last thing on her checklist that I forgot to mention? It was having a family. And Tabitha's just found out that she's got 6 months left of viable time to make her parenthood dreams come true.
Now it's time for Tabitha to reassess her life goals and pivot, fast. With her entire checklist now sidelined and reshuffled, we're buckled in as she swerves to keep climbing on her to success.
It seems like curveball after curveball keeps coming her way, and despite all of her successes, this last mic drop moment onto her life has got her sense of self shaking a bit. But there's happiness even in the journey, and Tabitha's framework of friends and family are there to help her weather the tide.
This novel is such a gem.
Now, to get my one and only critique out of the way--yes, this book was a bit of a rambler. I actually started with the audiobook and quickly(!) decided to transition to the physical copy because I found myself struggling to stay on pace with the meandering sense of backstory vs. real plot. There's a TON of context.
But after a while, I got into the flow. The strong sense of Tabitha's personality, which shines from the very first page, kept me going past the meandering back stories and contextual sidebars. And by the time I hit the 30% mark, I was in love with this story. I cared for Tabitha and rooted for her and her friends at each turn. They felt real, like "listening in to a conversation at the next table" real.
I'm so happy that Tabitha's journey has more books in it. While I think many readers could find satisfaction in stopping here at the end of the first book, I am definitely ready to see what happens next!
Call me an oddball: I loved this story. Simple exterior, complex interior. And, best of all, unforgettable.
Keiko Furukura is a woman who lives on the edges of everyone's "normal" expectations. She's worked in a low-level, part-time position at a local convenience store for decades with no advancement or wish for change. She is single, lives alone, and has no desire for change in her personal life either.
In fact, Keiko's life could be defined quite simply as: She is content as she is, and she does not wish for change.
However, as with many people who live outside of the bounds of "normal" societal expectations, the rest of Keiko's social and familial sphere cannot live with this reality.
Even though it doesn't affect them, even though Keiko is happy and able to pay her bills, the rest of the world is constantly asking her for more, for "normal," and for Keiko to change.
As Keiko herself put its, "the foreign body" is either assimilated or eliminated. So Keiko tries to assimilate based on other people's expectations.
Convenience Store Woman is Keiko's journey toward assimilation and selfhood. And she just might find out how to achieve personal joy along the way.
I thought this story was simultaneously extremely endearing and off-putting at the same time. (Much like Keiko herself, perhaps.) Keiko's life and internal motivations are intentionally on the off-beat for the rest of society, and that friction point is the keystone of this novel's entire existence. If it rubs you the wrong way, then it is telling you that this small story has a message worth exploring.
Especially in our modern times, where so many people are exploring different lifestyles, ways of operating in society, and finding their own joy in the human experience—this is excluding discussions of identity, self-presentation, and sexuality, as that's not the core of this novel--I think Convenience Store Woman is a reflection on the bizarre nature of our current times.
Who cares if Keiko is unmarried, alone, and working a "dead-end" job? Why does it bother others, when it doesn't bother Keiko and affects no one in a negative way?
Why do we, as a society, value the "normal" above all else? Even when—or maybe, especially when—our values of "normal" are extremely bizarre when viewed from a distance?
I thought one of the most ground-breaking and fundamental moments in this novel was when Keiko is internally examining the behaviors of her sister and friends when it comes to a relationship decision that she makes in this novel. (Omitting the details to avoid spoilers.)
Keiko's made a choice, and it's arguably made her daily life and future much worse. BUT, because it's a more "normal" decision that others know how to react to, the reactions from her friends and family are satirically positive. They're thrilled, even with this clearly negative life choice! Keiko becomes confused, quite logically, at the reasoning behind this. It's not a good choice for her, and she is not happy with it, but their reaction is so overwhelmingly positive—which is a reaction Keiko is unused to seeing--that is makes Keiko believe that this choice is what she "should" continue to make. This is just one example of societal reflection used throughout the novel that I found so fascinating to read.
Such an interesting social commentary. We've seen this type of concept before in other literary works, of course, but there is something so "of the now" about Convenience Store Woman and its endearingly likeable edge. A very clever novel with a surprising amount of heart.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.