Friday, January 19, 2024

Book Review: "Iron Flame" by Rebecca Yarros

Title: Iron Flame
Author: Rebecca Yarros
Series: "Empyrean" #2
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Page Length: 623 pages
Publication Date: November 7, 2023
Rating: 5 // 5 stars

*No spoilers for Iron Flame but potential spoilers for Fourth Wing*

Like many, Fourth Wing completely took me by surprise and pulled me into its net. I devoured it, loved it, couldn't stop thinking about it. I eagerly anticipated this sequel that was coming just six months later. Iron Flame arrived in the mail on the same day I finished work for the week. It was a sign. 

I dedicated the weekend to first rereading Fourth Wing and then tearing through the beast that is Iron Flame. Despite the initially medium-length page count, this sequel clocks in with a word-count longer than books like House of Earth and Blood, an 800-page behemoth. It's no wonder that it took me two days of straight reading to finish it. 

While there has been criticism for Fourth Wing, overwhelmingly people love it. However, Iron Flame seems to have my fellow book lovers split. People who loved FW hated IF's pacing and plot. I can understand and see everyone's criticisms for Iron Flame. Thankfully, though, I am in the camp of those who loved Iron Flame and my criticisms are far shorter. 

Once again, this series is by no means revolutionary or the incredibly written. They're not inherently complex or overwhelmingly beautiful. But what they are is fun and addicting. Fourth Wing pulls you in, has you flipping the pages until the sun has set and your eyesight as gone blurry because you just can't stop. The first book is just fun (until the end of course). It makes you fall for these characters and gets you emotionally invested.

Personally, Iron Flame felt much darker than Fourth Wing. Things are still fun at times but it's different. Tensions are higher, there's more to lose, and even more people are being killed off left and right. Rebecca is ruthless with her body count--no character is safe, which is particularly terrifying when there are so many lovable ones. 

Iron Flame is split into two parts. While they comprise the book that is Iron Flame, each part felt like it's own book. The pacing, conflicts, and plot focus are different (though still connected). I think this is an issue for a lot of readers as they felt the pacing was all over the place and the plot was confusing. To me, it makes the most sense to think of it with that separation between two parts rather than as a single book. 

There were a lot of tears spilled in this book. I cry easily at books and movies and this one got me right in the feels. There were also a lot of laughs, a lot of gasps, a lot of exclamations at various reveals or moments. While not entirely original, this series manages to evoke emotional responses which is why I've grown to love it. 

The ending completely threw me. I had various possibilities going through my mind of what kind of cliffhanger or situation we could end up in. What we got, though, was something I'd never even considered. I was absolutely shocked and I am nervous to see how we're going to sort through this situation moving forward (as we still have three more books to go). 

I will say, one of my few issues with this book was the miscommunication and the characters having the same argument over and over. Of course it provides tension to a relationship and something to keep the plot behind the relationship going. But I found it frustrating at times, like many others I've seen discussing it. I don't mind arguments, I don't mind a little miscommunication and tension, but it went above and beyond a lot of the time. However, I also recognize that even though these characters love each other, they are still in the very early stages of their relationship and haven't actually had that much time to truly get to know and experience each other without the stresses of the outside world. 

In an effort to avoid spoilers, it's hard to talk about certain reasons I loved this book. What it mainly boils down to, though, is that I connected hard to these characters in the first book and getting to experience new adventures with them was simply exciting. I am eagerly looking forward to the third book coming next year and I can only hope that Rebecca is somewhat nice to the characters moving forward (though I doubt it).  

Thanks for reading!

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