Hello! Today I am here with a review for a book that was a totally unplanned reading but that it revealed itself like one of the best surprises ever! When I started this post I was thinking about a mini-review because I thought I didn’t have a lot to say about it (except that this is really a good book and you just have to try it!) but then… oops! It came out a complete review, so here we are!
Title: A Deadly Education
Series: The Scholomance #1
Author: Naomi Novik
Page Count: 336
Publication Date: September 29th, 2020
Lesson One of the Scholomance: Learning has never been this deadly.
A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets.
There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere.
El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students.
To be honest, I didn’t have the slightest intention to read this book. I am not a huge fan of the author, and I wasn’t interested in starting a new series by her. It is not that I dislike her books, but I didn’t love them either. I have read Uprooted and enjoyed it, but not as much as I was expecting. And the same can be said for the first book in the Temeraire‘s series. I would continue this series, because I enjoyed the first book, sure, but I am not in a hurry to do so, and I was expecting more, even if, in the end, I enjoyed it. So even seeing this book everywhere online, because it is true that I was on hiatus and I wasn’t online a lot, but sometimes I checked Goodreads and twitter and… this book was everywhere, really. And I wasn’t curious about it. At all. And then I have read a comment on GR about it, and that was all it takes to make me curious.
And Since October was quite a strange month, and I am nearing a slump, I just couldn’t ignore a spark of interest. And lucky me for that!
I loved this book! El is a great main character, and I loved her to pieces. She is unique, both in her world and as MC, and you just have to love her for that. She can be rude, she can be a snob, but she is never mean, or cruel, and she really tries her best. And you cannot ask more than that, really.
She is a marvel to discover, and spending time with her was just so good. Yes, she is one of those highly unlikeable characters and she master the art of sarcasm, but those are just endearing traits to me. I couldn’t put down the book, and even if there are a ton of good things in there that helped along, the main reason was her.
We get to see her growing, and finding her place, and her pace with herself. We have an amazingly well developed character’s ARC in there.
And we have some other interesting characters alongside her, that make the ride all the more interesting. Orion is the first who comes to mind, with his hero’s complex who makes him a sort of stereotype, but the right kind of one. And what it is great about all the characters, even the secondary ones, is that the author manages to give some depths to all of them. She did an amazing job!
Then we have the world-building. And, you can guess, I loved that too. To be completely honest if you stop yourself and really think about it, you can see some cracks in there, because it is a highly chaotic world. And I really mean chaotic. In the enclosed boundaries of this magical school all makes perfect sense. And it is fantastic, because it is original, imaginative and complex. But outside this enclosed space, outside in the wide world well… it makes for a really hard and confusing way of life. The rules of magic and the fact that magical objects seems to be, in some ways, sentient make for a challenging life, or a really interesting one. Boredom seems in any case outside the equation.
But for the life in this unique school it works greatly. I was fascinated by it. And the school is surprisingly good. I loved it. All parts of it, even if it really is a dangerous place to be!
The author creates a school that is, in some ways, sentient, without grown-ups in there. No teachers, no janitors, no guardians, no parents. Not a single adult person in there. But it is full of monsters, who routinely try to devour the students. It makes for a cheery and happy school time, right?
And now about the plot. The plot per se is not the most original one, but it is fast-paced (even if we have some big info-dumps in there, but I didn’t found them troubling. The world is so different from ours that some explanation was needed, and I sort of appreciated them) and we have a lot of things happening. But we get to see how is the life in this magical school, we get to see some lessons, cafeteria time, study sessions and alone time. The author gift us with a complete view on the life in there, and I appreciated it a lot. And she manages to make it not boring at all.
El is a pro at sarcasm, and we have witty come back, humor and hilarious things in there, too. Even if all make you think about creepy and grim well, we have some sunshine in there, too!
The only thing I didn’t liked was the ending. And it is not because it is a cliffhanger. I usually hate cliffhangers, they made me really mad. And I am not joking. Spitting mad. But this time it was quite well done, and I was ok with it (and yes, I cannot believe I am writing this words… me ok with a cliff-hanger is really unexpected!). What I didn’t liked was the object of the cliff-hanger. It was sort of unexpected, yes, but most of all, it is disastrous! I don’t know if I want to read the second one because I am scared that all the things I appreciated in this book would be erased. And this book was just so so so good, that I don’t know if going on and ruin it would be a good thing.
Lucky for me I have some time to think about it, since this first book is new, and we don’t have the second one yet. But I really, really disliked the end.
Ending aside, this was an amazing reading. I couldn’t put it down, and I loved all of it. The characters, the plot, the world-building and the writing. And it is original and well developed. It is unique, and original, and entertaining, and I really hope to have made it a bit of justice, because… well, I loved it!
And what about you? Have you read this book? Or other books by this author? Let me know!