The Scholomance #2

This is the second book in a trilogy. There will be no spoilers for this book, but be aware that there will be spoilers for book one, probably. To see my review of book one click here.

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novick

Publication Date: September 28, 2021

Summary from NetGalley:

The specter of graduation looms large as Naomi Novik’s groundbreaking, New York Times bestselling trilogy continues in the stunning sequel to A Deadly Education.

In Wisdom, Shelter. That’s the official motto of the Scholomance. I suppose you could even argue that it’s true—only the wisdom is hard to come by, so the shelter’s rather scant. 

Our beloved school does its best to devour all its students—but now that I’ve reached my senior year and have actually won myself a handful of allies, it’s suddenly developed a very particular craving for me. And even if I somehow make it through the endless waves of maleficaria that it keeps throwing at me in between grueling homework assignments, I haven’t any idea how my allies and I are going to make it through the graduation hall alive.

Unless, of course, I finally accept my foretold destiny of dark sorcery and destruction. That would certainly let me sail straight out of here. The course of wisdom, surely.

But I’m not giving in—not to the mals, not to fate, and especially not to the Scholomance. I’m going to get myself and my friends out of this hideous place for good—even if it’s the last thing I do.

With keen insight and mordant humor, Novik reminds us that sometimes it is not enough to rewrite the rules—sometimes, you need to toss out the entire rulebook.

ARC provided by Random House Publishing via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

This is going to be a really hard review to write, because there is so much I want to say, but I am so afraid of spoiling things that it is going to be really hard. This was such a good book, and the ending almost made me throw my ipad down in frustration. But in a good way too. The next book can not get here fast enough.

El goes through so much in this one, and shows so much growth. She was always strong, but I don’t think she always believed in herself. The prophecy about her becoming a powerful and evil sorceress certainly has complicated her life, but also drove her to prove it wrong. Her mother’s influence certainly helped as well. By the end of this book everyone in the school has a better understanding of her, but I don’t really think they know how much of a struggle her whole life has been.

Orion continues to be the ultimate hero, although he has issues in this book with that. He also shows some sides to him that we did not see in the first book. But he is still quirky and weird in all the right ways. In many ways his power and El’s compliment each other. The romance is still rather awkward between them, but I still really enjoy seeing them together.

I always had a feeling that the Scholomance was more than just school. It almost feels like it is sentient and we get more of a sense of how much in this book. The school ends up almost being a character as it helps El and the others come up with their plan for survival.

The writing is wonderful, although there are a few spots that were a bit dragged down by El’s inner monologue and explanations of how the school and the world works. Hopefully some of these spots will be smoothed out in the final book. We also get loads more maleficaria, and some of them are nightmare worthy. There is still the wonderful snarky dialogue between El and Orion and between her and some of the other characters. There are even some moments of humor, which is often needed in such a dark book.

If you enjoyed the first book, then you will not be disappointed by this one. It is just as dark and scary as the first, but such a joy to watch El grow and change throughout. There is one hell of a cliffhanger at the end though, so think about that before you delve in. It might be better to wait till book three is here before diving in.

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