Cover Image: A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education

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Member Reviews

Thank you for my eARC of this book!!
I loved this story and absolutely love Noviks writing style.
The characters are brilliant and engaging and the writing and dialogue is clever and witty and dark. Brilliant.
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I so wanted to love this book, but it really wasn't for me. When reading this genre I want to imagine myself there with the characters...but I couldn't picture anything worse than attending this school!
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I've always been a fan of Naomi Novak's writing, from Temeraire to Uprooted, she's a fabulously talented fantasy author. So naturally, I was dying to get my paws on a copy of A Deadly Education, and I ended up loving it.

I love the magic school trope, and A Deadly Education is a dark, funny, and brutal look at the most dangerous magic school you could possibly imagine.  I loved the school setting, the idea of 'graduation', the monsters and magic, everything. The characters were wonderfully written and complex, and I really loved the relationships (or lack thereof) between them.

Highly recommended if you like your magic dark, your cinnamon rolls muscular, and your heroines snarky. I'd also highly recommend the audiobook, which was well narrated and totally addictive. Novak has blessed us by making this series a trilogy and I'm so hyped to read them all!
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Unfortunately the story was not able to catch me. The idea was quite interesting but I was not able to build a connection to the main protagonist El. The story felt long and slow moving and I could not warm to the story. Unfortunately the book was not for me  though it sounded quite nice
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I enjoyed this book as i found the school setting and the world building interesting but the characters felt a bit flat.I will read the second one and hopefully it will pick up I'm interested enough in the plot to carry on
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The only way to begin to describe this book or the Scholomance more accurately is “Hogwarts on steroids” because I was not ready for that level of chaos and student danger to be honest. Whilst I like to think Dumbledore perhaps just had a bit of a lax attitude to student safety or, I don’t know, thought it was “character building”, and didn’t actually go out of his way to threaten students’ lives every day. Whereas the Scholomance does exactly that; for four years the students have to survive on their own in a magical school where your graduation is more of a “congratulations on making it out alive”.

The problem for our protagonist, El, is that she is a dark sorceress, but doesn’t really want to hurt everyone around her and destroy everything she touches. So she’s doing her best to get by but not do too well in case her class mates decide to get to her rather than a monster, and yes that has been known to happen too. El’s natural affinity to dark spells and destruction make for some rather humorous scenes particularly early on in the book when it’s all still very unexpected; though the sort of dry and somewhat-dark sense of humour present in A Deadly Education is right up my street.

As a character she’s abrasive though primarily it would seem a defence tactic as fitting in isn’t exactly her speciality; but as the book goes on, and she manages to start forming some alliances with fellow classmates, she also opens up as a character a little and the reader starts to learn more of the complex and unique qualities of the protagonist. Whilst initially I wouldn’t say El is particularly disagreeable as a character, she’s certainly one that becomes more likeable as the story progresses. There is a particularly interesting and fun dynamic present following El’s near miss with death (but no big deal at the Scholomance) and Orion’s brave heroics that bring the two together in a very unlikely alliance; with his saviour complex, and El’s insistence that she’s doing just fine on her own, the stark contrast between characters and personalities makes for an amusing twist in the narrative.

Although the story primarily takes place within the Scholomance the world-building is incredible; an interdimensional realm (I would imagine) is never an easy thing to explain in a book, but the fact Novik is able to paint such a vivid picture of the school, its intricacies, and – I guess – rules without distracting from the storyline or breaking pace truly bears testament to her skill as a writer. It’s a book that will grip you from the first page to the last; I think I finished this in less than 24 hours I was so hooked on the story. I’ll definitely be picking up book 2 very soon, and perhaps even branch out to reading more of Novik’s work. In short: highly recommend.
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This had an interesting premise but there were some issues that other reviewers have raised. If you like dark academia you might like to check it out.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this magical and mysterious school. The plot reminded me of all the reasons why I love magical education. I found this very entertaining and I did not want to finish the book. The descriptions of the school and the characters were spot on!
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I have loved every thing Naomi Novik has written  and this was no exception- I loved this new world she has created. A whole new magic system and amazing characters- I need the next book now!
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This was a book I was really looking forward to reading, but it didn’t seem to gel with me. I couldn’t get into it at the start because there seemed to be a lot of narration and info dumping about backstory and the world. I’m also not a fan of 1st person POV so right from the start I wasn’t the right audience for the book. 
The concept of the book really interested me, but I think the writing style didn’t fit with what I like to read and it seems to be written to the younger YA audience.  
I think this would appeal to people who like a lot of detail up front in the story and don’t mind a slower pace.
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Sadly not for me. Too much info and not enough going on. Very confusing and the very long chapters made it feel like it was dragging. Loved the sound of it it sounded really interesting and something very different but turns out it just wasn't my cup of tea
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The premise of this book was something right up my alley, but the execution fell short. Most of the book was essentially info dumps and there were many racist remarks too.
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El is in her penultimate year at The Scholomance - a self aware magical school which likes to keep its students on its toes by letting monsters or 'mals' in to kill them.  El has survived almost a full 5 years at the school, with the majority of her year somehow beating the usual odds and surviving too...Orion Lake has a big part in this, having been obsessed with fighting mals since he was small - but El does not need saved, and she certainly doesn't need a friend...pah.

ADE was such a fun read - I loved El's narrative style and she is such a good narrator - her sense of humor was on point; the book is fast paced and entertaining, and once I got to grips with the magic system (well done) it was a really enjoyable read - I'm excited to read The Last Graduate now!
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I wasn't sure if I was going to read this book. It's been on my Netgalley shelf for a LONG time. At some point, it was one of my most anticipated books. Then the early reviews started coming out and I decided to give it some time. The book faced a lot of backlash (check this thread here for a summary). Now I've finally read it and I am ready to give my own thoughts on this turbulent book.

However, I am not an own-voices reviewer for any of the identities in this book. Which is why I will point you to own-voices reviews.

Characters - 8/10
I really like El. She's angry and a badass and she wants to burn the world down. I love her, and I love her anger (because she fucking deserves to be mad). She reminds me a bit of Rin from The Poppy War. Her journey throughout this book really kept me reading and I love the person she became at the end.

Orion Lake is basically a golden retriever. While it's not my usual type of fictional man, I liked him. His personality really works well with El's and I loved their dynamic. I would like to get to know him better, as we mainly get to know him through other people. I think most of the other side characters are well rounded.

Aadhya and El's friendship is also really sweet. I hope we get more of it.

Atmosphere - 9/10
The Scholomance is both a place I want to go to and a place I want to avoid. I really loved the worldbuilding. It's what pulled me into this book in the first place. The idea of a scholomance is fascinating, it's almost like the school is a character on its own. I just love the lore and the way the school functions.

Writing - 7/10
I listened to the audiobook of this and I think that made the book much easier to digest. The writing style is very conversational, and El often veers off into tangents. The audiobook makes those tangents easier to follow. The writing isn't bad, but I can see how some people can hate it. I personally enjoyed it.

Plot - 7/10
The plot is actually fairly simple, but it does tackle one main issue: class disparity. And I liked how it was handled. I would like El to smash the whole system.

I don't think fantasy books need to tackle every single real-world issue at the same time. It's impossible and authors are only human. Also, this is a fantasy book (not real). Novik gets a lot of criticism for not tackling other issues, but she would have gotten criticism either way. I liked the diversity in this book, and that's okay. I enjoyed reading about kids from Johannesburg, even if just in passing since we're hardly mentioned in anything.

Intrigue - 8/10
At some point, the whole "everything in this school is trying to kill us" vibe got old and I got desensitized to it. Novik did a good job of escalating the conflict as the book goes on. I really enjoyed the ending of this book and I'm excited to see where the series goes.

Logic - 9/10
The magic system in this book is AMAZING. It's so simple yet so creative. I think it's one of the best magic system's I've encountered. I love hard magic systems with rules and consequences, and we really FEEL those rules and consequences in this book. Read this book for the magic system alone.

Enjoyment - 8/10
There are a few things I didn't mention in my review, that I'll point you to other reviewers for. 

I will say that it's not for me to decide how you see a book. While I enjoyed this, I know many people didn't. I'd suggest reading this book and forming your own opinion.
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I found this to be a disappointment. I've loved much of Novik's precious work, but this felt off the mark and contained some pretty racist remarks.
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When I first started reading Fantasy Fiction about two years ago Naomi Novik was one of the authors I was told I should read. She has quite a good back catalogue, but I was lucky enough to be given a copy of A Deadly Education which was published in paperback in May. This is the first in a Duology set in a school of magic, like no other; imagine a nightmare version of Hogwarts. The school is set in a black void making it impossible to to leave until graduation, or another student pushes you into to it to die. There are no teachers only monsters, and less than half the students are expected the graduate, the other half killed by the monsters. Into this comes Galadriel, El, a loner in a place where safety is in numbers, but her magic is not like the others, she can’t use it to make alliances. Her magic is strong and dark, but also dangerous, so whilst she could kill the monsters, she could also kill the students, and has a prophecy for slaughter an destruction. As El tries to survive she has to open herself up and learn to trust others if she wants to survive.

This book has its roots in Romanian Folklore about Scholomance, a fabled school of black magic run by the devil, and reading this book I think the monsters there, and some of the students are more frightening than the devil. Monsters lurk everywhere, in the food, the showers, the classrooms, just waing for a lonely, unwitting student to come along. The fear is not just of monsters but of other students that practice’malia’ a dark magic that feasts on ‘mana’ a life force, from people and iinaminate objects, that have to be sacrificed. Even is you survive the horrors this school holds there is still graduation, where students face the worst of the monsters, before they can leave, if they leave. Naomi Novak keeps the tension throughout, as El and her classmates fight to stay alive, in this horrible and fearsome world she has created where literaly there is no where to run in the void. There are so many current themes addressed in this book, class differences, equality, the consequences of our actions and how we cannot go through life alone.

I really liked El as a character, and felt I understood her in some way. She is a loner, brought up in a commune by her mother after the death of her father in graduation. Most of the other students come from enclaves so are part of a group, giving them the better chance of survival. El finds it hard to trust and has no friends, making her vunerable, but during the course of the book, she seems to open herself up mainly due to her unwanted protector Orion Lake. Orion is everything El is not, popular, part of the New York Enclave and now her protector, whether she wants it or not. Orion is everyones knight in shining armour, always on hand to save the day, but shows modesty and is unpretentious about his skills. His interest in El sees her popularity rise, as enclaves and other students start to take notice. The relationship between El and Orion is one of sarcasm, she doesn’t adore him or admire him like others do and I loved watching then spar against each other. There is also a host of interesting characters, all trying to graduate alive in anyway they can, as it is a game of the survuval of the fittest.

A Deadly Education is a dark, tense, magical and spellbinding read. The school is fearsome in it’s need to feast upon students, and the monsters are terrifying to say the least. El is a wonderful character, strong and independent, and as the plot progresses she realises that she can’t do this alone, and has to compromise. I was totally hooked by this book and am lucky enought to have the sequel from the publisher to read and I can’t wait to see what happens next, especially after the cliffhanger ending.
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I had to DNF this book. I honestly could not get past the first two chapters. It's just all info dumps and extremely long inner monologues, and I just couldn't take it anymore. I heard from others that pretty much 80% of the book is exactly like that, so I decided to do myself a favour and put myself out of my misery by putting the book down. 

The premise and setting of the book sounded perfect, but the execution was not my cup of tea.
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me a digital review copy of this book.

This is going to be a very short review, because I didn’t finish the book. I had a lot of trouble understanding what was going on and it all felt kind of weird to me. So after 100 pages I decided to stop reading. I’m very sorry that I did, but I just wasn’t enjoying it enough to keep reading. I hope other people will like it, because i really liked the idea and I think it can be really good when you understand what’s going on.
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I have been absolutely transported by this book.

Would I want to go to The Scholomance? Absolutely not. Will I go to The Scholomance by reading anything and everything about it? Absolutely I will, and I fully intend to bring as many people along with me as possible.

A Deadly Education takes your expectation of what a magic school for children should be and turns it on its head, and then inside out, and then throws some death and murder at it for good measure. The Scholomance is no place for children. It’s dangerous and deadly and when a student enters, they already know that their chances of getting out alive are slim to none. After all, nearly a thousand students are killed within its walls every year. If the monsters that stalk the halls (and the air vents, and the storage boxes, and the cafeteria bain maries, and… you get the point) don’t kill you, you might catch the attention of another student who has gone darkside, and who powers their own magic by draining your life force. Tough luck. There are no kindly teachers to help you. You enter The Scholomance, and, if you keep your wits about you and make the right connections and study hard enough, you might just exit with your life.

Needless to say, I am obsessed.

To me, reading this book felt like I was an exchange student joining The Scholomance for a semester. Naomi Novik tells the story in a way I found very interesting – namely, some plot happens, and then we get a huge wad of backstory as to why that plot is so dangerous. This story doesn’t start from the moment Galadriel (‘El’) enters the halls of The Scholomance. She’s in her second final year, and as such, we haven’t had five books worth of backstory to give us a rich tableau of the school’s history or the mechanics of how it works. Some people may find this way of telling the story grating, but I loved it. I felt like I was running the halls with El while she explained to me why I could never trust the staircases to lead me where I wanted to go, or why I needed to form an alliance to shower more than once a week, or how best to approach a toolbox without getting my head separated from my body. Others might find it tedious; I found it exhilarating.

I also loved how prickly and awkward and powerful El was. Hell is a teenage girl, or whatever the saying is. She wasn’t endearing in almost any way, and still I’m in her corner. I figure if you’ve been told since you were born that you’re going to bring about the end of the world as we know it, you’re allowed to be a bit pissed off and give off weird bad vibes.

Anyway – love love love this book. Eagerly awaiting the second in the series, as well as any other tidbits Naomi Novik sees fit to give us. She is filling a rather large magical school-shaped hole that I gouged out of my heart, and for that I am grateful. I can’t wait to travel further into the bowels of The Scholomance and head into – gasp! – the graduation hall in the next instalment.

Thank you to NetGalley and to Random House UK for providing me with an ARC of this book.
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An intriguing premise with compelling characters, this was a good introduction to Novik's work and I'm eager to read more.
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