The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik – REVIEW
Return to the Scholomance – and face an even deadlier graduation – in the stunning sequel to the ground-breaking, Sunday Times bestselling A Deadly Education.
The dark school of magic has always done its best to devour its students, but now that El has reached her final year — and somehow won herself a handful of allies along the way — it’s suddenly developed a very particular craving . . .
As the savagery of the school ramps up, El is determined that she will not give in; not to the mals, not to fate, and especially not to the Scholomance. But as the spectre of graduation looms — the deadly final ritual that leaves few students alive — if she and her allies are to make it out, El will need to realise that sometimes winning the game means throwing out all the rules.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Pan Macmillan.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
“If there’s every an Olympics of rage, I’ll be odd-on favourite to take gold.”
What was that ending?! How am I meant to wait at least another year to find out what happens after that epic throw-your-book-across-the-room cliffhanger? As you can tell I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Graduate, the sequel to A Deadly Education and the second book in a planned trilogy. I found the first book exciting in premise but lacking a little in execution but the second book is back up to the author’s usual storytelling standards.
“Oh, who am I lying to? My supply of grace wouldn’t overflow any acorn cup.”
The tension slowly builds in this instalment as graduation day looms ever closer and the seniors train to survive the usual massacre. However, this year is different. El has big ideas and, with help from Orion, Aadhya and Liu, hopes that things can be done a new way and perhaps they can even help each other survive. Friendship can be life-saving in this world and I loved the friendships El has made and cherishes.
“But I was unenthusiastic about the prospect of being found attractive because I seem like a terrifying creation of dark sorcery instead of despite it.”
The mals (monsters) in this book are wildly inventive and gory. The author has expanded the world-building which in turn fleshes out the story and enhances the characters. El remains one of my favourite snarky characters, endlessly grumpy and ungrateful but ultimately a hero. Her relationship with Orion was nicely developed and I appreciated the direction it took. The whole book has a humorous tone to it that resonated deeply with me and kept my attention engaged throughout. As I mentioned at the beginning, the cliffhanger will leave you gasping in outrage but also desperate for the final instalment.