THE LAST GRADUATE by Naomi Novik (BOOK REVIEW)
This book is the sequel to A Deadly Education, which was flat-out amazing if you like slightly dark and broody sarcastic protagonists and unique world building. It’s not often a sequel matches the epic-ness of a really fantastic first novel, but let me say to all of you Deadly Education fans: you will not be disappointed with The Last Graduate.
The sequel picks up right where the first book leaves off. Galadriel – ehm, El – has actually acquired friends, and a not-boyfriend-but-kind-of in Orion. Things could be looking up, but this is the Scholomance and it only moves down. El has possibly the worst senior class schedule ever, and the school seems to be setting her up to eat some of the first-years and embrace the malificer path or be forced to save them over and over. Orion, of course, has been hunting mals since he was entombed in the school, and sees no reason to give up his hunting now. So as the seniors rush to survive their last semester of classes, mals become more scarce, and Orion spends more time hunting them to the detriment of his schoolwork. El’s mouse familiar (I will not spoil the delight of her name here) gains a personality to match her mistress and she quickly became one of my favorite parts of the story, adjacent to El and Orion not-dating, which was delightful.
The second half of the book, like the second half senior year in the Scholomance, is focused on the run to survive the graduation hall filled with mals. As the school presents more and more dangerous scenarios in the gym, it quickly becomes clear to the senior class that their graduation might be unlike any other before. This duology has joined my list of favorite books alongside Novik’s earlier Uprooted, and Robin McKinley’s Sunshine. The world is unique, the characters matter-of-factly diverse, and the plot solid. Naomi Novik is simply a magician. Five stars. Go read it.