A Deadly Education (The Scholomance #1) by Naomi Novik

Fantasy, 336 pages, published in 2020

El must navigate Scholomance, the deadly school for those with magic. But in a setting where allies are key, El has always been an outsider with no one to rely on.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Before I say anything, I want to point you to this article about racism and representation in this book, as well as Naomi Novik’s response.

Okay, so this book gave me the weirdest feelings any book has ever given me. I didn’t like Novik’s Uprooted, but I wanted to give her another chance. This book is SO different from Uprooted, but I still don’t think I liked it.

The narrator is Galadriel (yes, named after the LOTR character), who goes by El for short. The story is told in first person, with many (many) interruptions from El. They are anything from memories, to rumors, to explanations of why the tray return in the cafeteria is dangerous. I found these explanations quite obnoxious and intrusive. It felt like took forever for any actual plot to start because the story is constantly being interrupted by whatever El feels the need to explain.

El is also super powerful, but can’t prove it because her power is mass destruction. This had me rolling my eyes a bit, honestly.

The setting was actually quite cool. Nowhere in this school is safe and there aren’t teachers. Students really do just have to fend for themselves, and many of them will die. There were lots of politics around who helps who out and what can be traded or sold.

I didn’t think this was a romance going in, but then about halfway through, it felt like it could be. It walked the line between a romance and not being one, so it felt like this book just didn’t know what it wanted to be.

I really just don’t know what to think of this book, even a week after finishing it. On one hand, it had an interesting setting and I did want to know what happened next, but on the other hand, most of the characters were so one dimensional, not to mention El’s constant interjections. I truly don’t know if I want to read the next book. The ending kind of dropped a bombshell, but I don’t know if I am curious enough to find out what it means.

If you’ve read this book, what did you think? I’m so curious! I’ve seen so many different reviews of this book.

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