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The Last Graduate

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A budding dark sorceress determined not to use her formidable powers uncovers yet more secrets about the workings of her world in the stunning sequel to A Deadly Education, the start of Naomi Novik's groundbreaking crossover series. At the Scholomance, El, Orion, and the other students are faced with their final year--and the looming specter of graduation, a deadly ritual t A budding dark sorceress determined not to use her formidable powers uncovers yet more secrets about the workings of her world in the stunning sequel to A Deadly Education, the start of Naomi Novik's groundbreaking crossover series. At the Scholomance, El, Orion, and the other students are faced with their final year--and the looming specter of graduation, a deadly ritual that leaves few students alive in its wake. El is determined that her chosen group will survive, but it is a prospect that is looking harder by the day as the savagery of the school ramps up. Until El realizes that sometimes winning the game means throwing out all the rules . . . Praise for A Deadly Education "The scholomance is the dark school of magic I've been waiting for, and its wise, witty, and monstrous heroine is one I'd happily follow anywhere--even into a school full of monsters."--Katherine Arden, New York Times bestselling author of The Bear and the Nightingale "Novik deliciously undoes expectations about magic schools, destined heroes, and family legacies. A gorgeous book about monsters and monstrousness, chockablock with action, cleverness, and wit."--#1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black "A must-read . . . Novik puts a refreshingly dark, adult spin on the magical boarding school. . . . Readers will delight in the push-and-pull of El and Orion's relationship, the fantastically detailed world, the clever magic system, and the matter-of-fact diversity of the student body."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)


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A budding dark sorceress determined not to use her formidable powers uncovers yet more secrets about the workings of her world in the stunning sequel to A Deadly Education, the start of Naomi Novik's groundbreaking crossover series. At the Scholomance, El, Orion, and the other students are faced with their final year--and the looming specter of graduation, a deadly ritual t A budding dark sorceress determined not to use her formidable powers uncovers yet more secrets about the workings of her world in the stunning sequel to A Deadly Education, the start of Naomi Novik's groundbreaking crossover series. At the Scholomance, El, Orion, and the other students are faced with their final year--and the looming specter of graduation, a deadly ritual that leaves few students alive in its wake. El is determined that her chosen group will survive, but it is a prospect that is looking harder by the day as the savagery of the school ramps up. Until El realizes that sometimes winning the game means throwing out all the rules . . . Praise for A Deadly Education "The scholomance is the dark school of magic I've been waiting for, and its wise, witty, and monstrous heroine is one I'd happily follow anywhere--even into a school full of monsters."--Katherine Arden, New York Times bestselling author of The Bear and the Nightingale "Novik deliciously undoes expectations about magic schools, destined heroes, and family legacies. A gorgeous book about monsters and monstrousness, chockablock with action, cleverness, and wit."--#1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black "A must-read . . . Novik puts a refreshingly dark, adult spin on the magical boarding school. . . . Readers will delight in the push-and-pull of El and Orion's relationship, the fantastically detailed world, the clever magic system, and the matter-of-fact diversity of the student body."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

30 review for The Last Graduate

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shima

    WHAT.THE.HECK.WAS.THAT.ENDING. The second Scholomance book is everything you would want after the first one, except it's darker and more delicious. Except, the ending will leave you in pieces. Note. I grew up with the generation who waited a year for the next book, after watching beloved characters fall into hell in The Mark of Athena. This was worse. Pre-publication: Reading the first book in a series the day it comes out might be all fun and good until you realise that means you have exactly t WHAT.THE.HECK.WAS.THAT.ENDING. The second Scholomance book is everything you would want after the first one, except it's darker and more delicious. Except, the ending will leave you in pieces. Note. I grew up with the generation who waited a year for the next book, after watching beloved characters fall into hell in The Mark of Athena. This was worse. Pre-publication: Reading the first book in a series the day it comes out might be all fun and good until you realise that means you have exactly the maximum possible waiting time before the sequel. I regret nothing I think There isn't even a publishing date yet. Update: We have a page-count! (Too short, anything would be too short...) We have a synopsis! (Too vague, What will that message mean for El and Orion?) We have a publishing date (Much too far away, but hey, a girl's gotta have something to live for.)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    On sale now! I can't even say how much I loved this book ... okay, maybe except for the jaw-dropping ending. But STILL! If you've read the first book, definitely read this one, even if you weren't so excited by A Deadly Education. If you haven't, read both!! Here's my full review, first posted on FantasyLiterature.com: The Last Graduate completely sucked me in from start to finish! Galadriel has managed to survive three years at her deadly magical school, the Scholomance, with her junior year cap On sale now! I can't even say how much I loved this book ... okay, maybe except for the jaw-dropping ending. But STILL! If you've read the first book, definitely read this one, even if you weren't so excited by A Deadly Education. If you haven't, read both!! Here's my full review, first posted on FantasyLiterature.com: The Last Graduate completely sucked me in from start to finish! Galadriel has managed to survive three years at her deadly magical school, the Scholomance, with her junior year capped by an epic battle against a fearsome assembly of maleficaria (magical creatures that feast on wizards, especially youthful ones), as related in the first book in this fantasy series, A Deadly Education. Now El is in her last year at the Scholomance and has achieved her goal of becoming part of an alliance of fellow students (albeit a very small, less powerful one) who will protect each other when they run the gauntlet of ravenous mals that line the hallway leading to the graduation exit. And Orion Lake, the best mal-killer in the school, has progressed from mere annoyance to occasionally still aggravating but valued friend. Which makes it difficult when El’s clairvoyant mother sends her an urgent message to keep far away from Orion. Even more upsetting for El is that now the Scholomance seems to have her personally in its cross-hairs. Instead of working toward graduation, she’s spending most of her time fighting mals that all seem to be focused exclusively on eating her, and perhaps the group of brand-new, hapless freshmen that the school has inexplicably thrown El in with in one of her classes.I opened the door expecting to find something really horrible inside, and I did: eight freshmen, all of whom turned and stared at me like a herd of small and especially pitiful deer about to be mown down by a massive lorry. There wasn’t so much as a sophomore among the lot. “You’ve got to be joking,” I said with revulsion …El is in a constant battle against her innate affinity for massively destructive and violent spells, and the Scholomance seems to be pushing her to make selfish choices, saving her mana or magical power for her own needs instead of helping random freshmen who mean nothing to her. But as El battles the mals and her own dark nature in order to save herself and her friends and yes, random freshmen, the scope of her concern for others starts to grow, leading to changes that are unprecedented in Scholomance history. I initially had trouble getting into the first book, A Deadly Education. At first El was very prickly and sulky, a difficult main character to like, and there was a lot of info-dumping as Naomi Novik introduced us to the unique world and culture of the Scholomance. But by the end of that book I was fully on board with her character and anxious to see what happened next. And it didn’t disappoint, at all, in fact, The Last Graduate was far more than I expected. Everything that gave me hesitation about the first book has been resolved. Novik is fantastic when she’s on (Spinning Silver is still one of my favorite fantasies ever), and she definitely is here. There are game-changers afoot in the pages of The Last Graduate. El and her classmates are led step by excruciating step toward a greater purpose than simply surviving and getting out of the Scholomance alive. I don’t think inspiring is too strong of a word. The Scholomance has always had an international student body, and Novik better fleshes out the diversity in this second novel, with students from different cultures and races playing more significant roles. She also delves more deeply into themes of (often unexamined) privilege and how that affects choices and options. Along the way there are also some great moments of friendship, as El (still sensitive and snappish) grows closer to her classmates, especially the members of her alliance, and gradually learns that it’s okay to rely on others.“Stop it!” she said. “I think that’s like the third time you’ve asked to be ditched. You’re like one of those puffer fish, the second anyone touches you a little wrong you go all bwoomp,” she illustrated with her hands, “trying to make them let go. We’ll let you know, how’s that?”There are also some intriguing new characters, like Liesel, the abrasive, ruthless and utterly brilliant class valedictorian (“If you’re wondering how Liesel came into our discussions, so were the rest of us, but she was both impervious to hints that she wasn’t wanted, and also hideously smart, so we hadn’t actually been able to chase her from the planning”). I’ll admit to a few qualms about the efficacy of the plan El and her class came up with in the end; it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out in the upcoming conclusion of this trilogy. And THAT ENDING. I hate to complain when the rest of the book was SO good, but really it is one of the most jaw-dropping cliffhangers I’ve ever seen. I would suggest that if you’re strongly averse to cliffhangers, you could wait to read this book until the next one comes out … but I wouldn’t want anyone to delay the sheer excitement and fun of The Last Graduate. It has been one of 2021’s reading highlights for me: one of the most exhilarating, delightful and moving books I’ve read this year. Every page was truly a pleasure. Well, except maybe the last one. :) Previous update: So my daughter (hi, Emily! *waves*) found out I had the NetGalley ARC of this book a few days ago. She loved the first book, A Deadly Education, even more than I did, so she came home from college for a couple of days, mostly I think to borrow my iPad so she could read this ARC. I told her (a) I loved it, and (b) it has a killer cliffhanger ending. Last night I was on my laptop and she was in the same room reading this, and all of a sudden around midnight I hear this "AAAARRGH!!!" from the other side of the couch. *Cue evil laughter from me* She loved it. And the ending kills. And that's all we need to say for now, except you DEFINITELY should read this series if you have any interest in something sort of Harry Potterish, except with way more carnivorous monsters. I received an advance copy of this book for review. SO MANY THANKS to the publisher! Content notes: Gruesome carnivorous monsters, scattered F-bombs and a mildly explicit sex scene.

  3. 4 out of 5

    ELLIAS (elliasreads)

    S T U P I D. I'm giving this 1 STAR for that ending I don't care how petty I'm being... The only reason I picked this one up straight after the first one was because of the cliffhanger and here we have yet another fucking cliffhanger- it's the way I'm being played right now!!!! 😡 I still don't know what this series is about and what is happening 60% of the time and yet I still had a good time. But apparently I'm only here for a good time and not a long time because that ending..... STUPID!!!!! Anyway S T U P I D. I'm giving this 1 STAR for that ending I don't care how petty I'm being... The only reason I picked this one up straight after the first one was because of the cliffhanger and here we have yet another fucking cliffhanger- it's the way I'm being played right now!!!! 😡 I still don't know what this series is about and what is happening 60% of the time and yet I still had a good time. But apparently I'm only here for a good time and not a long time because that ending..... STUPID!!!!! Anyways this was good so 4 STARS. Twitter | Bookstagram | Youtube |

  4. 4 out of 5

    Maryam Rz.

    I’m here for Megara El, my badass queen of sarcasm. ⇓ Companions ⇓ Book series playlist: Spotify URL Books in series: ⤷ A Deadly Education (The Scholomance, #1) ★★★★☆ ⤷ The Last Graduate (The Scholomance, #2) ☆☆☆☆☆ I’m here for Megara El, my badass queen of sarcasm. ⇓ Companions ⇓ Book series playlist: Spotify URL Books in series: ⤷ A Deadly Education (The Scholomance, #1) ★★★★☆ ⤷ The Last Graduate (The Scholomance, #2) ☆☆☆☆☆

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Hogwarts meets Deadly Class with Anakin Skywalker’s transition to Darth Vader vibes : this action packed, dark, extremely sarcastic, entertaining second book of the series absolutely hooks you from the first chapter and you wish not to finish in one sit: you hit your head so hard against the wall and keep cursing why you didn’t you go slower, savoring each chapter and enjoy every reading moment! Especially that ending! That freaking ending! I literally howled like a crying wolf! The impressive Hogwarts meets Deadly Class with Anakin Skywalker’s transition to Darth Vader vibes : this action packed, dark, extremely sarcastic, entertaining second book of the series absolutely hooks you from the first chapter and you wish not to finish in one sit: you hit your head so hard against the wall and keep cursing why you didn’t you go slower, savoring each chapter and enjoy every reading moment! Especially that ending! That freaking ending! I literally howled like a crying wolf! The impressive world building, action packed, heart pounding adventures, sarcastic , balanced pace, extremely witty tone of El and her evolving characterization by learning how to control her power and her complicated love story with Orion ( yes, her mother wrote a letter to her to warm El about Orion: but could she stay away from him by listening her mother advise: hell no! ) make your fingers glued to this reading. I can say this new adventure is more about with will happen to our characters when they eventually graduate after their survival at the final year of Scholomance! What kind of future awaiting for them? Could El and Orion share a dreamy path at the outside world even though it seems more threatening they’ve been through recent years. I’m not gonna give away more! You gotta read this book and after reaching to jaw dropping, truly heart wrenching, WTH ending, I advise you to scream at the top of your lungs. And start raising your hands to the air, praying for early release of third book! I’m giving five magical, clever, mind blowing, wizard world, mana-full, happy graduation stars! Special thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group/ Ballantine/ Del Rey for sharing the most anticipated book’s arc copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.

  6. 4 out of 5

    sahar

    Naomi, count your fucking days for that ending. 😭

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nataliya

    Reluctant heroes who are not blinded by optimism, who know the stakes and crazy odds and still step up to the plate because sometimes you just can’t look the other way and protect your own hide — they are the best. (Also, they are a Murderbot.) “I was still in the Scholomance, and all the miracles in here come with price tags.” It’s easy to try and dismiss Naomi Novik’s Scholomance series as another book about teenagers in a wizarding school, riding the coattails of Harry Potter books — but th Reluctant heroes who are not blinded by optimism, who know the stakes and crazy odds and still step up to the plate because sometimes you just can’t look the other way and protect your own hide — they are the best. (Also, they are a Murderbot.) “I was still in the Scholomance, and all the miracles in here come with price tags.” It’s easy to try and dismiss Naomi Novik’s Scholomance series as another book about teenagers in a wizarding school, riding the coattails of Harry Potter books — but that would be far from truth. Despite showing young people in school, it’s definitely adult in tone and themes, digging deep into societal issues and quite uncomfortable topics (class privilege most of all) while still giving an exciting and tightly plotted story, compelling cast of characters, heaps of snark and grim humor infused with a healthy dose of sardonic realism, and stakes and tension that feel real and make you care. “[…] If you think we’d turn up our noses at reusing some perfectly good and comfortable cushions just because they’d previously been home to a pair of monsters and a half-digested fellow student, you haven’t been paying attention.” What if your high school graduation wasn’t a boring ceremony filled with weird veneration for sitting through a few years of classes but instead a desperate fight past ravenous hordes of monsters for whom your graduating class is basically an annual dinner buffet? And your school - teacher-free (but not exactly what Pink Floyd had in mind) and infested with those monsters (“maleficaria”, drawn to magic and the vulnerable wizarding kids full of it) provided you with 1 in 4 odds of making it through the four years, which is still better than the chances of a wizarding kid in the outside world — and those chances are even worse if you are basically cannon fodder that allows well-connected wizarding enclave kids to survive. Because magic is not free, and survival is very much tied to privilege and power. It’s a cruel and dangerous world. Well, welcome to Scholomance! Like Hotel California, there’s a good chance that you will never leave - except as a digested meal of school’s resident maleficaria hordes. “We’ve all spent the best part of four years training as hard as we could to be inhumanly selfish in a way we could only possibly live with because all of us were going round in fear for our lives—if not in the next five minutes then on graduation day at the latest—and you could tell yourself everyone else was doing the same and there wasn’t any other choice. The Scholomance had encouraged it if anything. Everyone-for-themselves worked well enough to get 25 percent of the students out through the unending horde […]” Galadriel “El” Higgins is a tough-as-nails loner outcast who managed to survive three years of Scholomance without giving in to her natural magical affinity — laying waste to multitudes through dark sorcery. Even more, she not only managed to save a few lives but even reluctantly made friends, including Scholomance’s brilliant but irritating resident hero/savior/monster-slayer Orion. “Most people have to study a spell at length to get it into their head. I do, too, if it’s a useful spell. But if it’s a spell to destroy cities or slaughter armies or torture people horribly—or, for instance, to shrivel up significant parts of a boy’s anatomy into a single agonizingly painful lump—one glance and it’s in there for good.” You see, as much as she’d incinerate you with an angry glare for even suggesting it, El Higgins who’s capable of laying waste to multitudes and has even even her cleaning spells forced on her with a side effect of world domination and possibly a supervolcano, is really an idealist and herself a reluctant hero in the making — but a very reluctant, pessimistic and snarky hero indeed. And with graduation slaughter approaching, El comes to realize that not only does she want to get out of Scholomance alive but that she’d want to see those she cares about (and even those she does not) to not fall prey to monster jaws, not to mention hoping that it’s not only the well-connected privileged enclave kids who get a chance at survival but also those who’d be normally relegated to minion/cannon fodder status. “I don’t think my appearance was reassuring. I emerged trailing clouds of dark-green smoke flickering phosphorescent with crackles of lightning, the dwindling remnants of the hurricane I’d whipped up to dissolve the shambling army of frozen-mud-things. There was also the large ring of glowing orange-purple balefire spheres orbiting round my waist. The workings all fizzled out as I came through the doors, but they hung in the air just long enough to make a fashion statement of the ‘behold your dark goddess’ variety.” Image credit to https://jmaddalina.myportfolio.com/il...)————— Just like in the previous book, our focus here is on the stark social contrasts within Scholomance — the multitude of advantages that kids from rich and comparatively safe wizarding enclaves have due to concentrated power, wealth, support and ability to manipulate the enclaveless students into doing their bidding by dangling the promise of possibility of securing a chance to get a coveted enclave spot and allow a chance of survival and security. The enclavers have grown up knowing that they are expected to make it out with fewer casualties while having a much easier time, and many of them do not even see the privilege that they have as for them it’s simply reality. “Alfie with Liesel and the brilliant team she’d built, Magnus and his wolf pack; they hadn’t spent four years being slowly taught over and over that another kid had the right to live and they hadn’t.” And now El with her obvious immense magical power and in a strong graduation alliance, not to mention the relationship with the school hero Orion, is no longer a sullen loner but an asset that all the enclave kids would like to see on their teams to further increase their chance of getting through the graduation slaughter intact. She’s now posed to immensely benefit from the quid-pro-quo system in this brutal tribalist and transactionalist microcosm of society. But El is finding it a bit unsettling seeing the long-established pattern of power relationships in the school trying to fit her in that mold. And she is trying to figure out whether she wants to work within the system that now favors her — or whether the system itself, built on the needs of those in power, needs to go. Obviously those are issues plaguing our society at this time, and in less skilled hands it could have been a shoehorned attempt to be relevant and topical — and as many of these “zeitgeist”chasers it could have been weak and boring and artificial. Novik, however, manages to bring in the issues organically, to incorporate them in the story itself instead of proselytizing, and to treat her characters not as stock mouthpieces of her message but make them realistic people who are well-rounded and are not defined by a sole quality or trait. The kids even outside of the main cast have depth and complexity and therefore lifelike relatability. And character growth rings true and organically comes from the story development. “Not really,” I said, and laughed a little, jangly and helpless, and put my hands over my face so I didn’t have to look at her, my friend, the first friend I’d ever had, besides Orion, who didn’t count; the first normal sane person in the world who’d looked at me and decided she was going to give me a chance to not hurt her.” Societal expectations and how nurture shapes people is another prominent theme. We see enclaver kids safe and secure in their ingrained belief that their lives are worth protecting — although after hanging out with El, some see the disparities as an awful unearned gap they are. We see El herself, shaped so much not only by her dark nature but by her hippie commune-dwelling mother into a remarkable human being. But most painfully we get to see Orion Lake, the much-lauded hero whose personality at least in part was shaped by the expectations of those around him, and who is viewed not only as a supposed hero but really as a tool to be used to achieve a comfortable existence regardless of what he would want if he’d only stopped to think for a moment. “He’d been trained to think he was only good if he ran around being a hero all the time. Naturally as soon as he dared think about what *he* might want, surely that made him a monster. But as someone who’s been told she’s a monster from almost all corners from quite early on, I know perfectly well the only sensible thing to do when self-doubt creeps into your own head is to repress it with great violence.” ———— And yeah, for those of us who are the fans of Martha Wells’ Murderbot series — El is basically a Murderbot (thanks, Carol!), sullen and snarky and hiding her feelings and made to be feared while ready to lay down her life to protect those who need protection — all while being painfully realistic and grumpily grim about all those humans that need rescue. “I’ve got to get to class,” I said, and escaped to the comparative safety of my independent study down in the bowels of the school, where the worst thing that was going to leap at me with devouring attention was a flesh-eating monster.” ——— Oh yeah, and if you already heard that there’s an annoying cliffhanger, it’s true. Although here it seems to actually logically follow the story thread, and I was expecting something like that. Needless to say, I’m getting my hands on the next book in the series the moment it’s out. 4.5 stars. ————— “Everyone else was still on board for exactly the same reason everyone was ever on board with anything in here, which was exactly the same reason everyone ever put themselves into this hellpit of a school, and that’s because it was better than the alternatives. That was all I could be: the lesser evil.” ————— My review of the first book in the series, A Deadly Education, is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Namera [The Literary Invertebrate]

    NAOMI NOVIK I HATE YOU SO MUCH OH MY GOD THAT ENDING I JUST I CAN'T __ Okay, I've given it a week, and feeling a bit calmer now. Let's try and review this thing. TLG picks up exactly where ADE leaves off, with El having received a mysterious note from her mum telling her to beware of Orion Lake. To be fair, there's not really much need to 'beware' of him for the first 30% of the book, because he features surprisingly little. Genuinely barely appears in the first three chapters or so. But when he NAOMI NOVIK I HATE YOU SO MUCH OH MY GOD THAT ENDING I JUST I CAN'T __ Okay, I've given it a week, and feeling a bit calmer now. Let's try and review this thing. TLG picks up exactly where ADE leaves off, with El having received a mysterious note from her mum telling her to beware of Orion Lake. To be fair, there's not really much need to 'beware' of him for the first 30% of the book, because he features surprisingly little. Genuinely barely appears in the first three chapters or so. But when he does, GOD. It's so good. Everything my little literary-romantic heart could desire. El and Orion are absolutely one of the best, most fulfilling YA romances I've ever read. The plot is everything, too. It's wicked, clever, and very fast-paced, involving plans to escape the Scholomance which just keep getting higher and higher in terms of stakes. There were times when I worried the book wasn't long enough for the amount of plot packed into it, and I was partially right: Novik has compensated by hitting us with an absolutely evil cliff-hanger. I haven't been affected so badly by a cliffhanger since November 2018, when I read The Wicked King. That's how jaw-dropping it is. Book Three simply cannot come fast enough.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nastassja

    My initial thoughts right after finishing The Last Graduate: **This review contains mild spoilers!** In this installment of The Scholomance we are thrown back right into the chaos of El, Orion, and other kids facing their senior year. A lot has changed since the previous year. New alliances are built, old ones are destroyed, and the school's mechanism is silently turning, counting the last days. To say this book was a rollercoaster is to say nothing! As usual when you dive into this seri My initial thoughts right after finishing The Last Graduate: **This review contains mild spoilers!** In this installment of The Scholomance we are thrown back right into the chaos of El, Orion, and other kids facing their senior year. A lot has changed since the previous year. New alliances are built, old ones are destroyed, and the school's mechanism is silently turning, counting the last days. To say this book was a rollercoaster is to say nothing! As usual when you dive into this series, you are thrown right into a massive info dump. El is a great and snarky narrator but sometimes it is sooo very hard to grasp all the things she's talking about. I think it's the biggest minus of this series: we are given too much information and don't have enough brain capacity to process it. I suppose we could compare the info dump to an attack of a horde of mals. El and Orion are two cherries on top of the cake story. I adored their interactions in the previous book but here it progressed 1000000000000 times and I tell 'ya people, this is how a slow-burn romance should be done! “You're the only right thing I've ever wanted.” What I really love about Scholamance is the character development! And not just of the main characters but all of them, even the ones we just met one time. All because we see them through El's eyes, and El has grown as a character a lot. From an absolutely selfish person, she turned into a hero. There was one scene with El and Aadhya - a sisterly bonding. I wept when I read it; it was sincere and heartfelt. The Last Graduate teaches us about compassion, friendship, and loyalty. The Scholomance is turned out to have a kind of a mechanical heart, which was so sweet to observe, especially when it was giving El hints of what it truly wanted. My heart melted at that (view spoiler)[ I hope the school will survive as well; don't what it to vanish inside the void (hide spoiler)] . Now, can we please talk about that ending?! Seriously, you can't finish every installment of this series like that! It's torture not knowing what happened! Agh! I finished the book late at night and couldn't sleep afterward because I kept scrolling the last scene in my head (view spoiler)[ Orion, you stupidly adorable cinnamon roll, what have you done! You better not part ways with El like that and then go and die! (hide spoiler)] . I have a very strong feeling we are getting closer to the meaning of the shocker message that ending the first book. We are definitely going to see El's darker side in the next book. But honestly, I literally can't wait. I haven't been that excited about a book, let me think.... ah, yeah, since the ending of A Deadly Education! So, Naomi Novik, you better not make me wait for long...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Becca & The Books

    Well, I can pretty confidently say that if you loved Deadly Education, you're probably going to enjoy The Last Graduate just as much! We once again join El as she battles against the monsters of the Scholomance while trying to construct a plan to Graduate the school alive, with the help of Orion and the rest of her allies. Once again, I related to El deeply throughout this book and I truly adore her as a character. I love that the heroine of this series is a defensive, angry teenage girl battling Well, I can pretty confidently say that if you loved Deadly Education, you're probably going to enjoy The Last Graduate just as much! We once again join El as she battles against the monsters of the Scholomance while trying to construct a plan to Graduate the school alive, with the help of Orion and the rest of her allies. Once again, I related to El deeply throughout this book and I truly adore her as a character. I love that the heroine of this series is a defensive, angry teenage girl battling against an affinity to dark magic and the things in her past that have caused her to close herself off. I once again, also adored Orion - especially as he is the antithesis of El with his big sunshine himbo energy. Sadly though, this book once again hit at a middle of the road 3 stars for me, because while I love the characters, setting and plot of this series, even tearing up slightly towards the end, I can't get past how much I dislike the writing style of these books. While a conversational writing style is not my favourite, it's something I can generally get on board with. However the combination of that and the endless cutaway exposition really ruins this series for me. So essentially, 5 stars for character, setting and plot - 1 star for writing But I am pretty confident that no matter your opinions on book 1 in this series, you'll pretty much feel the same about book 2 so if you loved Deadly Education, you're in for a treat!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction)

    DNFed. Sadly the writing style still grates on me - it’s as if to make our main character seem standoffish she has to talk in double the amount of words than is needed. It’s tiring to get through a page at times and sadly I don’t care enough for the characters, plot, or setting to continue. I might return to it eventually but right now I’m just not vibing.

  12. 4 out of 5

    carol.

    Inhaled, but I think review will have to wait for a re-read, sometime before book three comes out.

  13. 4 out of 5

    myo (myonna reads)

    feeling: dead inside i just love El so much and her character development in this book was great. She’s so funny but she also really cares for the people in her life even though she pretends not to, even Orion. she’s so strong because even though she has the prophecy she doesn’t let that stop her. I loved the side characters and everyone coming together. AND THAT CLIFFHANGER?? cant wait to see my besties again next year.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    That ending was so devious! Some authors I am willing to read YA for and Naomi Novik is definitely one of them. I very much enjoyed this magic school that literally is attempting to kill the students (or protect them?), so I’m interested to see what happens next. Especially with that very YA cliffhanger ending.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sofia

    Alas, I am far too familiar with the agonizing pain of waiting for a sequel that has yet to be released

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Addicting and vicious, The Last Graduate proved to be much more than just another magical school story. It can be a hit or miss because of the writing style, which is different from the usual YA. I would say this book is in between YA and NA territories. I also enjoyed every minute reading it. The Last Graduate picks up from the same second Deadly Education had ended. The story continues with no time passing in between, after all, school starts right after induction. There are no breaks in the Sc Addicting and vicious, The Last Graduate proved to be much more than just another magical school story. It can be a hit or miss because of the writing style, which is different from the usual YA. I would say this book is in between YA and NA territories. I also enjoyed every minute reading it. The Last Graduate picks up from the same second Deadly Education had ended. The story continues with no time passing in between, after all, school starts right after induction. There are no breaks in the Schoolomance. The stakes in this book are much higher and what starts as alliance planning for graduation, evolves to be well, suffice to say on a much grander scale than that. I've been having a problem lately. I'm not in a slump but also books that make me avoid doing anything else, even scrolling through that cancerous Instagram explore, are rare. I didn't want anyone to talk to me while I was reading this book nor any distractions whatsoever, it was that gripping. Let's start by addressing the pink elephant in the room. We all know the backlash Novik got from the Last Graduate. Many tried defending her and saying there was no racism or unfair remarks but I digress.. There were lots of stereotypes and unacceptable comments. Novik acknowledged her error and I believe in second chances. While it wasn't enough for me to change my rating of the first book, I also wanted to give this book a second chance. Naomi Novik made most of it. Instead of focusing on the differences between cultures and traditions, she tackled a very important and prevalent subject in all societies: privilege. If you've read the first book, you already know that enclave kids always have considerably higher chances of surviving and graduating first and later on in life. They have their future guaranteed after school just because they were born into the right family. They are better prepared as freshmen and always get better supplies from the seniors. They stick together. Were they from the New York enclave, Shanghai, London, or any other enclave across the world, they all help each other within their respective enclaves. Most students would do anything to secure a seat after graduating in an enclave especially the top ones. But the losers, the nobodies, have to secure alliances and work harder in everything, was it at studying or simply gathering mana. This book focused a lot more on this theme and I believe Novik did a good job exploring the relationships between enclave kids and everyone else, how they are so used to get it's difficult for them to give but also, that doesn't mean they all are bad. Not at all. I don't pretend to understand how every spell worked because I was too busy turning the page to know what happens next. The book was a page-turner and could be easily read in one or two sittings. Sure, we didn't have a lot happening all the time but the way Naomi wrote this book makes it fast-paced. They were few dull moments and instead, I wanted to know what plan they'll come with and how that will turn out. I also liked El in this book, her character witnessed a considerable development since book 1. She had built a thick shell around being a loner all those years but now finally, she's trying to let people in. Or at least accept their friendships. As for the romance, I honestly didn't see it coming in book 1. I had no idea Orion was the love interest until late into the book. I loved their relationship in the Last Graduate and how it progressed. They make a good couple and Orion (I just wish he had a different name) is such a sweet and selfless person. We discover more about him as a person in this book because Novik is evil, let me leave it at that. Do we have sexual content? This isn't a spoiler for the book but only for this point (view spoiler)[we had a somewhat explicit sex scene, not naming of body parts and such but it was definitely more explicit than the usual ones in YA. I personally didn't mind it at all, I found it well done but PG13. (hide spoiler)] I'll end by saying that this trilogy is proving to be highly entertaining. This book was definitely the best YA release I've read in a while and that was published after 2018. Magic schools aren't the most innovative plotlines but I love them anyway. In this case, Novik took it and made it her own. It's pretty different from your average book in this genre and totally worth a read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Helena Paris

    I received this complimentary ARC from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    Have you read the first in this series...Deadly Education? If not, you should because it is FANTASTIC. This is the second book in the series and it's maybe not quite as good as the first (which is pretty standard for a middle book in a series) but definitely worthwhile. Now to wait impatiently for the next... Have you read the first in this series...Deadly Education? If not, you should because it is FANTASTIC. This is the second book in the series and it's maybe not quite as good as the first (which is pretty standard for a middle book in a series) but definitely worthwhile. Now to wait impatiently for the next...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emmy Neal

    There are so many exceptional characters here but I hope we all know Precious is the real MVP.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Phuong ✯ [semi-hiatus]

    For 95% of this book I was so done with this series, because I couldn't take any more of the inner monologues or the extensive description of every little thing around the heroine, but then the last 5% came and you know what? It was such a serve and that cliffhanger? THAT FREAKING CLIFFHANGER? The only reason why I'm going to pick up the last book next year. I hate it here. Well played, Noami Novik, well played 👏🏽 ┍━━━━━━━━━━━━━┑ THE SCHOLOMANCE SERIES #1 A Deadly Education – 3 stars #2 The La For 95% of this book I was so done with this series, because I couldn't take any more of the inner monologues or the extensive description of every little thing around the heroine, but then the last 5% came and you know what? It was such a serve and that cliffhanger? THAT FREAKING CLIFFHANGER? The only reason why I'm going to pick up the last book next year. I hate it here. Well played, Noami Novik, well played 👏🏽 ┍━━━━━━━━━━━━━┑ THE SCHOLOMANCE SERIES #1 A Deadly Education – 3 stars #2 The Last Graduate – 2.25 stars (the extra 0.25 is for that cliffhanger) #3 The Golden Enclaves – tbr ┕━━━━━━━━━━━━━┙

  21. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    THAT ENDING THOUGH. There isn't anything much more dangerous in the world than a fully grown wizard. That's why the mals have to hunt us when we're young. We're the real apex predators, not the maw-mouths that after all just sit by the doors mumbling to themselves and occasionally groping around for some supper. Once through the gates, we'll be carving our dreams into the world like gleeful vandals scratching graffiti on the pyramids, and we won't look behind us. But only once we're out. Sophomore THAT ENDING THOUGH. There isn't anything much more dangerous in the world than a fully grown wizard. That's why the mals have to hunt us when we're young. We're the real apex predators, not the maw-mouths that after all just sit by the doors mumbling to themselves and occasionally groping around for some supper. Once through the gates, we'll be carving our dreams into the world like gleeful vandals scratching graffiti on the pyramids, and we won't look behind us. But only once we're out. Sophomore slump? Not a chance, though it's probably no surprise that Naomi Novik doesn't have that issue. Instead, The Last Graduate built on all the bits I loved about the first book, improving on something I already thought was absolutely top-notch. If you couldn't tell from the extract above, there's a bit of a tonal shift in this book - El's come a long way since the start of book one, and without immediate survival problems and all the stress they bring, she's actually got room to think in bigger picture terms. Turns out she's just as good at that as she probably would be at going full destruction mode; because by the end of this second instalment it's clear she's thinking big. I love El, and even more by the time I was finished with this book - it's hard enough to be a good person without constant pressure from the universe to go all dark queen, fight off monsters at every turn, and deal with the fact that people just intuitively don't seem to like you. But sometimes it can be harder to be good when you do start getting everything you've ever wanted, when you actually do have options. El's not annoyingly perfect (no chance), she feels very real, and very consistently willing to choose a rougher path to do the right thing. This is such a great series that it's even getting a pass for one of the most outrageous cliffhangers I've ever read. A pass doesn't mean I'm not going to complain, of course. But there are books that put in cliffhangers to get you to read the next, and that's a cheap trick I cannot stand. This one, though, feels like Naomi Novik knows we're already hanging out for the next book and just wants to playfully torment the hell out of us. I may grumble for the next year, but I'm coming back regardless.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amy Imogene Reads

    4.5 I’m-dying-from-that-cliffhanger stars There's no other way to put this review, so I'm starting off right with the one-two punch: The Last Graduate was 50% a slow-burn sophomore setup, and 50% an active, amazing plot with the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers. Writing: ★★★★ Character relationships: ★★★★★ Pacing: ★★ World building #2: ★★★★ Where to start?? I guess I'm going to attempt to be completely spoiler free this time around... a concept. Because of that, here's a vague synopsis of the firs 4.5 I’m-dying-from-that-cliffhanger stars There's no other way to put this review, so I'm starting off right with the one-two punch: The Last Graduate was 50% a slow-burn sophomore setup, and 50% an active, amazing plot with the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers. Writing: ★★★★ Character relationships: ★★★★★ Pacing: ★★ World building #2: ★★★★ Where to start?? I guess I'm going to attempt to be completely spoiler free this time around... a concept. Because of that, here's a vague synopsis of the first book, A Deadly Education. El, a powerful "evil" wizard who is prophesized to bring the doom of the wizarding world, attends the deadliest school you could ever conceptualize: The Scholomance. It's a never-ending haunted house—with deadly stakes—and El's lack of connections and rage-filled chip on her shoulder left her in a pickle. That and the fact that the Scholomance, which is sentient and supposed to provide each student with schoolwork tailored to their unique abilities, keeps trying to give El supervolcano spells of mass destruction whenever she asks for help cleaning her dirty dorm room. We should probably mention that El was raised by the kindest hippie witch trope in the world, so El's trying her best to NOT be the next Evil One to End All Things. But anyway... Some things happen. As El is the Evil One, she also interacts with her class's version of the Chosen One with...interesting results that I (totally and utterly) went completely fangirl over. She makes some alliances, some things happen... the vague synopsis peters out here. In this book, The Last Graduate, El and her classmates are now seniors. With the graduation ceremony historically being a bloodbath of epic proportions—they have to fight their way out of a monster pit at the base of the school, full-on gladiator/Hunger Games style—they've got a lot of training and preparation to do. But things this year are different. And their plans are about to be radically changed... and not from the source that they're expecting. That's all. I'm not going to ruin it! My thoughts: So, in short, I will fully admit to being very bored for the first half of this novel. In fact, this book had me questioning my love of the first one! Because it was so much slower, not overly much happened right away, and Noviks' already extremely meandering and overly descriptive writing took center stage and tried to bore me from my beloved characters. But I loved El, and I loved her situation and her friends, so I kept going. And that paid off BIG TIME. The last half of the novel recovered from its slump and ended in a truly dramatic and over-the-top way that made me just lose my mind. I'm upset we've got to wait until September 2022 for our next one! (But will gladly wait, with popcorn, for the finale. It's going to be epic.) Blog | Instagram

  23. 4 out of 5

    h o l l i s

    Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. That ending.. I just.. the only two options are stupefied silence or hysterical laughter and right now I'm alternating between the two. Weirdly enough, with nine minutes left on the kindle countdown, I put the book down. I could almost sense something. But that bit of warning was not enough to prepare me for t h a t. "[..] you're the only person I've ever met who'd come up with the idea of being wildly rude and hostile to the guy who saved your life twenty times." "Thirteen Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. That ending.. I just.. the only two options are stupefied silence or hysterical laughter and right now I'm alternating between the two. Weirdly enough, with nine minutes left on the kindle countdown, I put the book down. I could almost sense something. But that bit of warning was not enough to prepare me for t h a t. "[..] you're the only person I've ever met who'd come up with the idea of being wildly rude and hostile to the guy who saved your life twenty times." "Thirteen times! And I've saved his life at least twice." "Catch up already, girl." Goodness, wow, so. Yeah, lots of my feelings about this book have been eclipsed by all the nonsense above but I will say this. I was delighted to return to this world for one main reason : I had forgotten how delightfully prickly El was. Being back in her space, watching her interact with people, it was often hilarious because she is constantly battling the general feeling of "not putting up with this shit" which, I mean, same. But she's also in a much better place than she was in the beginning of book one so she's also struggling to remember she has friends and how that's changed her life, yes, but also changed her odds of surviving the Scholomance. And those opposing forces are just as funny as she is. I was unenthusiastic about the prospect of being found attractive because I seem like a terrifying creation of dark sorcery instead of despite it. Also there was maybe a very short, tiny, little scene that ambushed some tears out of me. Unexpected. My one.. not complaint, really, but observation, is that there is a lot going on in this world, in the day to day, and Novik strings together some long-ass sentences sometimes -- and as a result I completely lose the original thought or point and have to reread or, occasionally, just give up and keep going. It doesn't always feel like dense fantasy when there's action or bickering or brainstorming but there are huge swaths of this that is actually quite wordy or complicated. Sometimes I gobbled it up, other times, well, like I said, I just cruised on by. That said, maybe I sabotaged myself a bit because I didn't adjust my pace to actually take time to process it all, so, maybe it's my own fault. But unlike most magical schools or learning sequences, this author doesn't gloss over anything. We are with them as they learn, as they do homework, as they team up and help each other, because not doing the work is sometimes just as dangerous as the monsters crawling through the vents. I had such a good time with this one. The banter, the action, the romance, the snark, the cut-throat ruthlessness, and, yeah, even that e n d i n g.. I can't wait for book three (and this isn't even out yet, arg!). ** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. ** --- This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Avani ✨

    This one was so much better than the first book!!! The ending killed me and now I want the third book ASAP

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    I really can't overstate this: I love this book. I loved the one preceding it, too, but I REALLY loved this book. Why? Because it was fun all the way down to the deepest levels, with all the eldritch horrors clawing their way into the school, with only a reasonable expectation of 1 in 4 kids making it out alive. Because it had all the magical charm of Hogwarts without any of the sappy sweet. It was a fight and die with every last bit of your strength, casting the most deadly, mana-consuming spells I really can't overstate this: I love this book. I loved the one preceding it, too, but I REALLY loved this book. Why? Because it was fun all the way down to the deepest levels, with all the eldritch horrors clawing their way into the school, with only a reasonable expectation of 1 in 4 kids making it out alive. Because it had all the magical charm of Hogwarts without any of the sappy sweet. It was a fight and die with every last bit of your strength, casting the most deadly, mana-consuming spells non-stop whether you're trying to sleep, go to the restroom, trying to eat monster-infested slop, or trying to read in a library that had books that could eat you -- or consume your soul. So wait, these books are horror? Action? With so much blood and gore slopping down the gymnasium that you can reasonably expect to go on a date AFTER killing hell-worms, and have a picnic in the fleshy ruins? Well, yes. But it's also TRAINING. Magic use calls the evil. Puberty is when the magic comes strong and when the highest death count happens among the youth. The school DOES make the survival rate BETTER. Nominally. In a walled-off dimension of its own, surrounded by shivering horrors in the void. :) Suffice to say, this next book takes the next step and shows us what GRADUATION is all about, with some surprising twists, an absolutely jaw-dropping action sequence, and an end that made me scream and want to throw the book across the room. Ahem. Am I slightly upset? Maybe. But that doesn't diminish my utter enjoyment. Easily one of the best fantasies I've read this year.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea ❤Peril Please❤

    I had friends. Which felt even more unreal than surviving long enough to become a senior, and I owed that, I owed every last bit of it, to Orion Lake, and I didn’t care, actually, what the price tag was going to be. There’d be one, no question. Mum hadn’t warned me for no reason. But I didn’t care. I’d pay it back, whatever it was. Did I want to immediately jump on here and write a review rather than dive into my next October Spooky Read? No. Did I want to think about this book all d I had friends. Which felt even more unreal than surviving long enough to become a senior, and I owed that, I owed every last bit of it, to Orion Lake, and I didn’t care, actually, what the price tag was going to be. There’d be one, no question. Mum hadn’t warned me for no reason. But I didn’t care. I’d pay it back, whatever it was. Did I want to immediately jump on here and write a review rather than dive into my next October Spooky Read? No. Did I want to think about this book all day at work and while doing mundane things around my house? No. Did I want to be so out of breath, so insanely drunk on adrenaline and the nerve-wracking peril butterflies borne from pain and panic, thus causing me to stay up all night in a crescendo of feels so inevitably dark, alluring and cataclysmic that I couldn’t help but re-read the same devastatingly amazing scene over and over again until there were undeniable bags under my eyes today? I mean…yes. Yes. Yes to all of this-I totally lied. I am a monster and my monster has been fed THUSLY. You could ask people to be brave, you could ask them to be kind, you could ask them to care, you could ask them to help; you could ask them for a thousand hard and painful things. But not when it was so obviously useless. You couldn’t ask someone to deliberately trade themselves away completely, everything they had and might ever be, just to give you a chance, when in the end—and the gates were the end, the very end of things—you knew you weren’t any more special than they were. It wasn’t even heroism; it was just a bad equation that didn’t balance. This is a review that didn’t allow me to start another book, that didn’t allow me to catch up on another review I’m behind on, that didn’t allow me proper sleep even tonight, because the thoughts and emotions and utter helplessness that comes from such an amazing end of a book cannot and will not be contained inside this masochistic cranium of mine. I am bent. I am broken. And I LIVE for the mind-numbingly chaotic chaos that is YA fantasy when done correctly. Either they’ll tell you to do what you want to do anyway, in which case you didn’t need their advice, or they’ll tell you to do the opposite, in which case you’ll have to choose between sullenly following their advice, like a little kid who has been forced to brush her teeth and go to bed at a reasonable hour, or ignoring it and grimly carrying on, all the while knowing that your course of action is guaranteed to lead you straight to pain and dismay. If you’re wondering which of those two options I picked, then you must not know me, as pain and dismay were obviously my destination. And make no mistake, this was done right. It was done well. It was evil, cruel, so satisfyingly macabre that I can’t help but sound like a demon as all I have talked about is my withering sanity that surely went south with this weirdly perfect masterpiece of a series (thus far). Naomi Novik is no novice in writing fantasy-Uprooted remains one of the most surprising favorites of my past to this day. So when I saw she was going a possessed school type route (what even is the Scholomance if not a school that lives and breathes as its own entity?), I was all in. The Scholomance isn’t exactly a living thing, but it isn’t exactly not, either. If she won me over with, like, random tree monsters and other such nonsense (I hate this type of nonsense, weirdly), then surely one of my favorite types of tropes ever could be written to utter godly heights by this woman. Naturally as soon as he dared think about what he might want, surely that made him a monster. But as someone who’s been told she’s a monster from almost all corners from quite early on, I know perfectly well the only sensible thing to do when self-doubt creeps into your own head is to repress it with great violence. I’ll admit the first book shocked me. I knew Novik was an odd writer, for me anyway, but this was….beyond absurd. Weirdly wonderful. And, beyond that absurdity of absurdness I’ve yet to explain, the wordiness is enough to scare anyone off. I used to hate that type of writing, so how Uprooted got through my crusty barriers years ago is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong-I’m all for it now-but I used to not be able to stand it. POINT BEING, this series is so beyond wordy that I’m shocked that so many people got past this book to get to that juicy last chunk of the book. I will admit, even to myself, the beginning was a bit of a chore. “Sure,” Orion said blithely, and I didn’t literally gnash my teeth because no one does, do they, but I felt as if I were gnashing my teeth. With no justification in the slightest. I try harder than most-I rarely DNF a book-but I had to push. Look, I am one who really reallyyyy loves those smidgens of romance. One might say they are my driving force. But, when the romance isn’t necessarily…blossoming…I expect other things to keep me occupied. In book one, we got a lot of Orion, but it’s not like he was the star of the show-clearly we are in snarky Galadriel’s head forever and always and it’s an endless rant much like what goes on in my head 24/7, thus why I love her so hard. I swear-the bitchiness is unparalleled. But we got…lots of action. There were so many things that happened with so many different people in so many different areas that it was just so alluring. So gripping. And that ’we’re not dating but are really dating’ storyline remains one of my newest favorite non tropes. In this one, I felt it was a lot of being in her head, and lots of hanging with her friends doing the same-ish things. I don’t know that I’d have bent my neck the way she did, apologizing to me and even asking to be friends after I bit her head off. I’m not sorry for doing the biting, I had more than enough cause, but I still don’t know that I’d have had the grace. Oh, who am I lying to? My supply of grace wouldn’t overflow an acorn cap. Now, okay, I was super sick for book one and lots of book two-I admit I completely scrapped this read when I got to about halfway and there was some serious feels that should have been felt that I most definitely didn’t feel and I knew I was checked out and couldn’t focus-I re read all the first half of the book when I began to feel better and I am SO GLAD I did. The second time around was so much more rewarding-but it still didn’t feel like we got a lot of what I wanted for much of the book. I’m not some sort of pallid romantic who insists on being loved for my shining inner being. My inner being is exceptionally cranky and I often don’t want her company myself… Well. Ha ha Novik says, because this book kicked it into overdrive and it never really stopped. The Last Graduate did not go in any direction I would have imagined it to go, and I can’t say I didn’t want things to perhaps follow the school vibes of A Deadly Education a little more similarly but, in the end, I loved how the path the author took showed the journey of El and how she really is a snarky, rude soul that could stand to be nicer to my poor Orion, but what her true self looked like on the inside-who she really was and how she really was deep down-she had more depth in character and personality than perhaps anyone there. It was a very peculiar journey…but I see why the author did it. There was no other way, really, to show just how much El had progressed and changed from the beginning of book one when she was just a miserable outcast who would have blasted pretty much anyone out of the way to secure her place at freedom during graduation to the self-sacrificing martyr anyone would be shocked to see today. Mum would only warn me off something bad, not something painful. So obviously Orion was the most brilliant maleficer ever, concealing his vile plans by saving the lives of everyone over and over just so he could, I don’t know, kill them himself later on? Or maybe Mum was worried that he was so annoying that he’d drive me to become the most brilliant maleficer ever, which was probably more plausible, since that’s supposedly my own doom anyway. Much of the book is spent with El and her allies, which was cute, but I’m all for when we began to mingle more as a larger group, more for when Orion got to come out of his shell and we got to actually see some more depth from him, as well. We knew El was deep-but this whole series we were told time and again all Orion knew was fighting mals and that he’d sooner set up a date mal hunting for mana than hanging with friends his age or even show interest in a girl. “They’re freaked out over Orion.” “After you’ve only been dating two months?” Liu said. “We’re not dating!” Aadhya made a dramatic show of rolling her eyes heavenwards. “After you’ve been doing whatever you’re doing that is not dating but totally looks like dating to everyone else, for only two months.” And that goes back to what my friend said when she told me I needed to read it: Orion has a hero complex, but it’s so much deeper than that-and, although I didn’t think we’d see it at all in this series seeing as how he is talked and alluded to-we finally got a glimpse into his tortured soul. YES. You heard me right- We have a bonafide tortured hero, here , and damn if I didn’t have to work for it, but I unearthed him and he has a permanent place in my heart. He was an adorable cinnamon roll, sure, but now he is…he’s just…he’s more. And I suppose that goes without saying, doesn’t it, as Novik doesn’t really write one-dimensional worlds or characters. But, I’ll admit, I thought she was going for intentionally flighty here, and I’m so so so glad she cracked open the shell that is Orion Lake and proved my assumption wrong (It only took two whole books but okay). At least they had certainly stopped worrying about doing any killing of their own. Even Orion had got over being enraged and was just standing gawking at me—in an infuriatingly starry-eyed way, in his case, demonstrating his continuing total lack of judgment and sense. El is a wonderfully diverse character who says it like it is-she’s selfish, she knows what she has to do to survive, and not much stands in her way as far as distractions go. But what happens when you make friends, find a guy you [won’t admit it but we all know it] would take a bullet (or a mal) for, and see that things just aren’t right, that you can do more. What then? We get to see what humanity means to El when she’s really backed into a corner, when she sees the school isn’t going to settle for one of the most powerful students in history just coasting through and graduating like a ’normal’ person. And that’s where we get to see the El we knew was hiding all along. She did a good job pretending she didn’t care, acting blasé at the most horrendous things…but in each rude remark, each turn of phrase, each knee to Orion’s groin, we saw through it (or at least I did) and, in the end, the school got to see the true El, too. And yeah, hey, speaking of that before I go, she is just so mean to Orion. I love it, I always did, especially in book one, but wow my heart cringed for the poor guy. Dude’s obviously obsessed with her and she can’t help but glare and put him off at each and every turn-when, clearly, she is just as obsessed with him as he is her. Honestly, if I didn’t say it before (I did), her inner monologues about him were enough to power me through my day. The simple way she’d glare at him if he wanted to run off and hunt mals, how she lectured him to do his homework, how she would glare and coolly dismiss him with a British flair of iciness to make it clear he wasn’t getting to anybase was the much needed dark humor that fanned the flames of their weird passionate non-relationship and, at the end of it all, it paid off so spectacularly that the wind was stolen right from my lungs, my knees taken out from underneath me, and the floor disappeared out of seemingly nowhere. That’s exactly what epic is, in case you were wondering. …and then the bastard looked down at me with his entire heart crammed into his eyes and his face and said, barely a whisper, “Galadriel.” All in all I did love book one more, just because I’m a book one kinda gal, mostly. They almost always speak to me in unsung ways that are unable to be fulfilled once my heart is full of those puppy love moments, the first dregs of death and destruction, the way the battlefield is set and the story could literally go anywhere from that moment. Second books rarely stand a chance with me, to be honest. But, I’ve found second books have a great little weapon in their arsenal: The end. Book one may be the strongest nine times out of ten, but the second book in a series generally packs a punch so agonizing that book three can’t come soon enough. Alas, that generally leads to a wimpy book three…but I’d like to think Novik is better than that, better than such mortal worries-but I guess we’ll see, won’t we? For more of my reviews, please visit: ****** Ohmighod I just...I can't....I want... Omifuckinggodthiswassogoodsofuckingepicccc RTC

  27. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    Literally I won't say anything other than what the fuck Literally I won't say anything other than what the fuck

  28. 5 out of 5

    mimi

    Everyone takes a deep breath. Including me. I'm about to faint, I’m telling you. Is it possible to freak out about something you don't even love? Because “love” is a big word, and I'm pretty sure I just really liked all of this, but I'm still freaking out. There are some improvements compared to her last book, but I wouldn't imagine that I could react like this. At the moment, the only thing I'm capable of doing is screaming into my pillow and staring at the wall because I have so many questions, Everyone takes a deep breath. Including me. I'm about to faint, I’m telling you. Is it possible to freak out about something you don't even love? Because “love” is a big word, and I'm pretty sure I just really liked all of this, but I'm still freaking out. There are some improvements compared to her last book, but I wouldn't imagine that I could react like this. At the moment, the only thing I'm capable of doing is screaming into my pillow and staring at the wall because I have so many questions, Miss Novak. Let's start with the amazing glow-up of the protagonist, El, who was a big problem in the other book while here I even would have liked a more angry and bitchy version of herself. To be fair, she hasn't become an angel but just because she has decided to save thousands of kids doesn't mean she can't insult an asshole when she sees one. And I'm not just saying she's way less annoying, she also became a proper hero for this story and it wasn't so bad had to read the events from her point of view. If this isn't a glow-up then I don't know what it is. Liu and Aadhya are still my favorites, and I didn't mind seeing Chloe in the game once you got to know her a little bit. But, I'm not gonna lie, I came here for Orion and I'm really disappointed about that. After A Deadly Education I wasn't impressed at all and for no reason I would have agreed on my free will to read this, the book I'm now reviewing. So, in exchange for the time I've lost, I spoilered myself a couple of comments, and in the mess of thoughts one thing was clear to everyone: Orion Lake is dangerous. Well, even El’s mother thinks that, so it must be true. Except that it’s not for me. How can you say he's dangerous when all he can think about is sleeping, eating, and killing bad creatures. Yeah, he's a bit weird but do I have to remind you that El’s ability is killing people? He's not the villain - I'm laughing while writing this -, and of course the two of them make a lovely couple. Because of the prophecy. Did you think I forget that? The bloody prophecy which we don't know anything about. Probably they shouldn't be together because they can cause the end of the world or something like that: he dies and she’s so mad to destroy everything, she dies and he does something really stupid with bad consequences, they can be together and they shouldn't. There are so many alternatives, but one thing is for sure: I truly believe they love each other. And this brings us here, to the ending. I don't know if I'm angrier about the fact I'm shocked, or because it's stupid, or maybe because I have to wait a whole year (or more) for another book. I mean, was it necessary? Is he dead? How will he come out of there? It's gonna end badly, I'm sure of that, I can feel it in my bones. So this is why I liked the story: them. About the technical details: it's still difficult to read it, I still rather kill myself than go to that school, I'm still a little bit annoyed by the writing skills of the author and I’m once again saying we should have had more interactions between El and Orion - maybe next time it can be a little spicier. Now, this can go in two directions: the third (and probably last) book can be a masterpiece as much it can be awful. I'm willing to wait but I warn you, Naomi Novik: don't mess things up. ↠ 4 stars

  29. 4 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣

    Dec 5, 2020. Yes! I want this one right now. (A bit sad I read the 1st one without waiting for the whole series being out there ready for me :) ) I expect it to be 5-star worthy. The rating is subject to changing on the basis of m getting my hands on the actual book whenever it gets published.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship

    4.5 stars Like A Deadly Education, this book is a ton of fun, makes many decisions I admire, and has me impatient for the next in the series! I didn’t have quite as intense an experience with this volume as the first, which is not unexpected, but my love for the series is undiminished. Note: Mild SPOILERS for A Deadly Education below; spoilers for this book are hidden. This book picks up right where the last left off, at the beginning of El’s senior year at the dreaded Scholomance. Don’t let the be 4.5 stars Like A Deadly Education, this book is a ton of fun, makes many decisions I admire, and has me impatient for the next in the series! I didn’t have quite as intense an experience with this volume as the first, which is not unexpected, but my love for the series is undiminished. Note: Mild SPOILERS for A Deadly Education below; spoilers for this book are hidden. This book picks up right where the last left off, at the beginning of El’s senior year at the dreaded Scholomance. Don’t let the beginning fool you though: the focus has shifted and the story moved on since the last book. It’s an astute decision: El has friends now (though she doesn’t always know how to talk to them), she’s made a firm decision not to do evil even if it costs her her life, and both she and the reader are used to random monsters leaping out of the woodwork to eat her (less of a problem anyway when you have allies). So this book needs a new source of tension, and gets one, as El has to fight for the people and ideals she cares about. So the first several chapters are downright mellow compared to the first book; it still winds up being an intense ride, though with very different stakes. There’s a bit of a superhero story here, not typically my genre but one I do enjoy on the odd occasion there’s a character I can relate to. It goes almost without saying that El continues awesome, with her mixture of prickliness and idealism and snark. Maybe because this book’s events felt less horrifying, I actually found it funnier than the first and laughed out loud several times. Among other things, El finally comes into her own magically and her using spells meant to be dastardly to save people is always a good time. The themes of this series have always been pointed, with big issues of exploitation and cooperation vs. competition. I see this trilogy as a thinly veiled critique of capitalism, wrapped up in a world where wizards are kept anxious about their physical, rather than economic, security. But I love that it never gets simplistic, that it focuses on the system rather than the people, that over two books we have no character approximating a villain. Occasionally people do awful things, but anyone who sticks around more than a scene or two turns out to be just a person, making decisions based on their own place in a larger and brutal system, but often willing to help others despite all their training to be cutthroat. Other good stuff: more development of all the secondary characters from the first book, especially Aadhya, Liu, and Orion. (Especially Orion, though he has perhaps less page time here. More on him beneath the cut, but suffice it to say that the things about him that seemed off to me in the first book, which I put down to YA writing, were not writing flaws but clues.) This series was never particularly YA despite being about teens at the boarding school from hell, and it feels even less so now. It addresses timely issues while mixing realism with hope. And it’s very compelling writing—although in this volume, in a couple places I thought the exposition ran too long—and paves the way for a really killer conclusion. Admittedly, with quite a cliffhanger ending! Various fannish commentary, including a lot of little stuff and some spoilers for this book, below the cut! (view spoiler)[1) I think there’s at least a 50% chance that that cliffhanger will be resolved within the first page of the next book. I doubt Novik is going for the level of tragedy that would result from never resolving it, and there’s so much to see and do out in the rest of the wizarding world in just one book without a drawn-out rescue plotline. 2) My guess is that the Powers That Be in the enclaves will not be happy with the kids’ solution, which could reduce their own power significantly. My hope is that Novik can continue to focus the conflict on the system producing this inequality, rather than personifying it with a villain or cabal behind the monster infestation. Because the next step has to be stopping wizards from creating these things to begin with. 3) Orion! In the first book, I didn’t quite buy El’s interpretation of his behavior, because I read him as the captain of the football team, and “I’ve never had friends because while everyone loves me, it’s only for my incredible talents and not for me,” said no one, ever. But he’s not the captain of the football team. He’s a weird kid who has spent his entire life obsessed with killing monsters, and only killing monsters, and he’s only at this school because it offers him so many opportunities to kill monsters. He’s the only kid to have lived for years in the Scholomance and picked up no trauma; not even the relatively sheltered other enclave kids can say that. He pretty clearly doesn’t want a world without monsters, though he doesn’t seem to want to take safety away from everyone else either. Social bonds aren’t a need for him like they are for other people. Something is missing there, to the point that I’m seeing two possibilities: a) he’s not actually a person, but a hyper-realistic construct of some sort, or b) magic has messed with his psychology in a serious way. Since he’s the love interest, I’m guessing b). But I think we’re supposed to be having doubts about Orion. El thinks she’s meant to be evil, but taking a step back: it’s Orion who gets power and enjoyment only from killing. It’s Orion who can’t control his anger. It’s Orion who has actually killed another person, on purpose. He’s just done it all in a socially acceptable way, comes from a respected family and has a laid-back personality, so nobody ever questions him. 4) A lot of the secondary characters in this book were great fun. Liesel is kind of awful, but also kind of great (though I have some doubts about her make-people-like-me strategy, which while appropriately calculating, seems like it would get her labeled a suck-up). I just can’t hate Magnus the way El does, and I liked Alfie too. Chloe is a sweetheart. Ibrahim turned surprisingly cute. 5) Aadhya feels slightly like a TV best friend, but I really liked the scene where she points out to El that a) sticking it to The Man is not a life plan, and b) you don’t have to be a saint to be a decent person. Although El ignored it all, I think it’s important to say in a fantasy novel, to recognize that the heroism depicted can’t be most people’s measure of morality. It was also a nice surprise to see El react to Orion’s over-the-top love declaration like a real person. 6) Last book, I assumed El was forced to limit her magic use because the only thing she was good at was actual evil. Turns out, it was only because she had to hoard mana. And now she doesn’t! 7) I love how the book subtly shows how smart and hardworking a student El is, in a way that feels authentic. This is an area of fiction where many have tried and few have succeeded, but you can see it in the way El describes her schoolwork, without the book ever pointing a giant sign at it. At the same time, tons of the students around her are very obviously brilliant too; there’s no one character who is The Brain and the author never tries to shove someone’s intelligence in the reader’s face, which usually backfires. 8) That said, they certainly took a leap of faith on those calculations. How do they know exactly how many monsters are in the world, and how rapidly they’ll breed when depleted? There are hints that they go forward with the plan just because everyone wants so badly to believe in it, but they have absolutely no idea what they’re all jumping into on the outside, either. I’m prepared for drama, but seeing all the kids work together to get everyone to safety still made me tear up a bit. 9) The kids also feel more realistically teenage-y than is typical in fiction about teenagers. Though I side-eye El’s frequent comments about what a teenage boy Orion is, which though they painted a vivid picture, did not read very consistently with attraction. (Or maybe it’s just that I’m too old for teenage boys, so her descriptions didn’t attract me?) 10) Scholomance kids don’t seem to get it on much, but Novik made sure to throw in some queer pairings this time. Though in 2021, in a fantasy novel not written by a white man, the unexpected choice would be to have all three friends be heterosexual. 11) I am perhaps reconciling myself to the idea that the birth rate issue, and the question of why wizards would ever give birth in this world rather than adopting mundane kids if they must parent, will never be answered. But now there’s a hint that you can opt out of magic, so why aren’t all the parents pushing their kids to do that? Other than for the enclavers, is anything magic has to offer really worth the overwhelming likelihood of dying in your teens? 12) What the hell was 14-year-old Sudarat doing walking a dog alone outside her enclave, anyway? 13) Naming your last chapter “Patience” has never been so ominous! (hide spoiler)] — Pre-release comments, speculation, etc., with spoilers for A Deadly Education: (view spoiler)[- The structure of this trilogy will likely look a lot like the Hunger Games. Book 1 – survival in a bizarre dystopian situation. Book 2 – same situation, but stakes increase and we learn more about the sinister forces manipulating society. Book 3 – time to burn it all down. - Powerful forces within the enclaves probably have a lot more control over the monsters than anyone publicly admits, or allow people to create them, because somehow this serves their own interests. I kind of hope Novik doesn’t go this route because inequality exists in the real world without need for evil cabals deliberately maintaining it from their penthouse suites, but as a plot device it’s probably too juicy to pass up. And the first book has set us up for a later revelation that the enclaves must be destroyed. - Said powerful forces probably have something to do with the “malfunctioning” machines in the graduation hall. Else, how could a bunch of kids have fixed them when adults failed? Yes, they had Orion, who is clearly the hero everyone has been waiting for (though not the hero they need, because he’s inclined to play whack-a-mole forever rescuing individuals without considering the corruption in the system). But still, this smells suspicious. - Orion is a prophesied hero, right? I struggle to think what else Gwen might have found out about him from people who haven’t seen him for three years. Speaking of which, that message—great cliffhanger, but if you actually want people to follow your instructions, you really need to explain them. Especially when by “people” we mean “a contrarian teen you haven’t seen in three years.” - I have faith that our heroes will come up with the blindingly obvious best strategy to the graduation gauntlet, which is that instead of charging into a melee with these piddly alliances of a handful of people, they need to organize the entire class into an army and meet the monsters in a single phalanx. Will the powers that be attempt to disrupt this strategy, with its communitarian implications? - I really, really hope someone will explain how this society survives, between the 75-95% teenage death rates and the apparently incredibly low wizarding birth rates, particularly since they seem to get little new blood from non-wizarding families (unclear how these people can even contact the wizards). - Also, here’s hoping this time El will get to do something truly badass. (hide spoiler)]

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