The Last Graduate

- Naomi Novik


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 . . .



Keep far away from Orion Lake.


solid, good read:

Novik is good with last sentences. This one was definitely more cliffhanger-y than A Deadly Education and packed quite a punch. It may be slightly inflating my feelings about the book in general – there was a little too much planning and waiting for something to happen – but on the whole, I was very happy with this second instalment.

"To be fair, 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," Aadhya said.
I glared at her. "Thirteen times! And I've saved his life at least twice."
"Catch up already, girl," she said, unrepentantly.

I like the way El’s brain works. She’s analytical and always working at the angles, and while she’s quick to jump to anger or judgment, it’s usually in defence of injustice. It’s crazy to see how much having friends has changed her outlook and her experience, but the El in The Last Graduate is very different to the paranoid, barely surviving El in A Deadly Education. The plans she has to make it through graduation and her dreams for life in the real world are these bright spots in a truly dark moment; the hope is so terrible because it feels so impossible.

Aadhya silently went and dug a leftover half of a granola bar out of a small warded stash box on her desk. Liu tried to refuse it, but Aad said, "Oh my God, eat the freaking granola bar," and then Liu's face crumpled and she got up and put her arms out towards us. It took me a few moments longer than Aadhya - three years of near-total social ostracization leaves you badly equipped for this sort of thing - but they both kept a space open until I lurched in to join the hug, our arms around each other, and it was the miracle all over again, the miracle I still couldn't quite believe in: I wasn't alone anymore. They were saving me, and I was going to save them. It felt more like magic than magic. As though it could make everything all right. As if the whole world had become a different place.
But it hadn't. I was still in the Scholomance, and all the miracles in here come with price tags.

While I’m more used to the narrative style, the information dumps and stream-of-consciousness writing, it can still take you out of the story more than I’d like. It’s hard to remember what conversation is taking place when you’re given three pages of history on a side reference before the next person speaks. But if I’d spent years in a demonic school fighting for my survival every single day, knowing the odds were highly against me, I don’t think my state of mind would be entirely linear either. Keeping that in mind, it adds more legitimacy to the story and makes it easier to get through.

I am very excited to get my hands on The Golden Enclaves, even knowing it will be the end of the trilogy and highly unlikely to live up to my expectations. Let’s end this on a high, shall we, Novik?



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