A Fantasy Filled Summer

By Carter Cormier
Over the course of the summer, one thing has stayed constant: a book by my side and a smile upon my face. Although I have strayed to various genres such as historical fiction, romance, or murder mystery, Young Adult and Adult Fantasy has maintained tried and true. This summer, I bought and read 6 distinct novels, ranging from a little disappointing to impressive and captivating. 

  1. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

This 500 page fantasy-romance gained massive popularity after tearing through numerous social media platforms. We follow Violet Sorrengail and her harrowing journey through Basgiath War College. Meant for a scribes pacificy, Sorrengail is utterly unprepared for this new direction. Filled with dragons and danger, Fourth Wing has many griped in its leather talons. This novel is what many would consider to be a guilty pleasure. Brimming with blatant tropes and exaggerated characters, the world-building and character development falls short. Although if the reader overcomes this, and enjoys the read, they may find themselves playfully delighted by adventure and shallow yet riveting romance. As attested by Yarros’ soaring 4.67 stars on Goodreads, most reviews praise Fourth Wing – “5 ⭐️ If Throne of Glass, Divergent, Eragon, and Zodiac Academy had a baby. . . but this is better!!!” Although a stark minority cannot get past the aforementioned shortcomings, stressing that “this brand of poorly written, poorly developed fantasy story is just not for me.” All in all, read Fourth Wing if you would like a quick, enjoyable story of tropes and danger, intertwined with a predictable romance. 4 stars. 

  1. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The Priory of the Orange Tree boasts an impressive 848 pages, ultimately leading to its downfall. Hosting too opposing societies dancing on an uneasy truce, we follow 3 main characters as they struggle with ideals, love, and each other. The plot is intricate and thorough, yet at times hard to follow. Like Fourth Wing, readers will no doubt enjoy this book of dragons and danger. The love aspect soars, yet the climatic and emotional scenes are done fairly poorly and leave the reader a little disappointed. With an average rating of 4.23 stars, thousands “cannot recommend it highly enough!” So, if you are prepared for the length and are willing to put in the effort, The Priory of the Orange Tree is sure to leave invested in the intricate characters and dizzingly thorough plot.  4 stars. 

  1. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  2. Golden Son by Pierce Brown

These novels are paired as Golden Son succeeds Red Rising, continuing the story yet reading as something completely different. The series holds 6 books in total, this summer only allowing enough time for 2. The rest already on their way, the 382 and 466 page books, respectively, kept me delightfully enthralled. With a strong basis of the social and physical stratifications in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, we follow as Darrow au Andromedus (a lowly red) infiltrates the society of the golds – superior in intellect, build, and status. The first section of Red Rising is slow and turns some away from the book, yet it serves as a basis and motivation for the rest of the novel. So if you choose to pick up this series, know it gets much better.  The sci-fi themes are potent in these books, with space battles and unique futuristic weapons. With Red Rising, the reader ingests their fair share of both internal and external struggle as Darrow navigates this peculiar world. Beware, this series is far from young adult, “the writing, plot, themes, and world-building, in my opinion, belong in the adult territory,” although the series “can be enjoyed by both YA and adult readers.” One reviewer encapsulates the revery well, saying, “You think you’ve read about evil futuristic regimes? Nope, those were one dimensional villains that will look cartoony compared the a******* in this book.” 5 stars. 

  1. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Taking a short-lived break from my fantasy filled summer, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo left me wounded and breathless. We follow Evelyn Hugo, as she recites her long, complicated, despairing, all-consuming life. The 389 pages will feel like 100, all seven husbands giving Hugo something to remember. One reviewer mentions, “This book had so many layers. Everything was thought of and processed. Nothing was sloppy, nothing was lacking meaning. Every single word had its reason to be written.” Although fiction, this book reads as a memoir and if you decide to pick up The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo you are sure to discover why it is so widely praised. 5 stars. 

  1. Star Splitter

Back to fantasy with Star Splitter. Sadly, no stars are actually split in this novel. We follow Jessica Mathers and she wakes from her teleportation to desolation and destruction surrounding her. This futuristic novel plays with cloning and aliens, with one reviewer saying it was “a familiar and yet unique story within sci-fi.” Thousands have enjoyed Star Splitter without any apprehensions, yet it stands with a lowly 3.9 stars on Goodreads Many felt it felt hurried and unfinished, with much of the plot visited yet never completed. We see Mathers struggle with the ethics of teleportation and clones, and various other sci-fi related conflicts, yet they are not explored as much as they should be. Much of the book was with mundane and unimportant tasks that had no relevance to the story. “A lot of the descriptions should have been cut to make room for actual plot. Pacing was also a little bit clunky,” one reviewer says “I think the potential was there, because the parts I did enjoy- I enjoyed them a lot.” All in all, star splitter is intriguing and easy to read, if it does fall apart in some areas. 3 stars.