The Last Graduate (The Scholomance #2)

Source: E-book purchase via Amazon
Pub. Date: September 28, 2021
Synopsis: Goodreads
Other Books in this Series: A Deadly Education (The Scholomance #1)

Why did I choose to read this book?

I have had trouble getting into Naomi Novik’s writing despite some very promising starts. One of my first reviews was of Uprooted (which I liked) but when I tried to read Spinning Silver I got bogged down in the middle (and didn’t even write a review). I read His Majesty’s Dragon, the first book in Novik’s Temeraire series, but lost steam halfway through Throne of Jade. When I saw A Deadly Education on a Kindle deal, I decided to try again and see if this was finally the set of Novik’s books that I could love all the way through. Just like I had done with her previous books, I charged into The Last Graduate as a preorder no less – I actually bought it! Let no one say that I don’t know how to hope.

What is this book about?

El and her friends are deep in graduation preparation after being promoted to their senior year. The graduation hall monster cleanser has been fixed, so all are expecting an easier run than in years past, but that doesn’t keep them for preparing for the worst. El forms an alliance that earns her a power sharer (so she doesn’t have to build mana for herself and can do magic whenever) and even gets to save her boyfriend(??) Orion Lake several times, despite her mom’s warning at the end of the first book to stay far away from him. But when first semester ends and the second semester begins, bringing with it intense obstacle training in the gymnasium, El and Orion discover that something is very wrong with the Scholomance, and it might take all of them to fix it.

What is notable about the story?

Competition and self-preservation transformed into collective action. A lesson for our current, crumbling society – a fantasy in that same light. Nice to see how things might work in a better timeline.

Was anything not so great?

She almost lost me again. Novik’s second book game is NOT strong. Most of this book is make something, kill something, mope, make something, kill something, mope, with some imposter syndrome mixed in for good measure. There’s hardly any action because the school hardly has any malificeria in it (monsters), and the main characters’ boredom in the school radiates off the page, infecting the reader. Luckily there was enough there to get me through to the end, and enough in the end to preorder The Golden Enclaves, out this fall/winter.

What’s the verdict?

3 stars on Goodreads for the mind numbing middle 50%, but good enough to finish so any less would not be doing it justice. The lesson here is that Novik is a good writer, and her books are worth reading IF you can power through any book 2. I’m planning to return to Temeraire at some point, and maybe take another whack at Spinning Silver too, because this series has shown me that it might be worth it.


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