Cover Image: A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education

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Member Reviews

Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this novel. 

DNF @ 20%

Unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me. I really struggled with the writing style and the amount of world building/ info dumping. I’ve read some other reviews and my issues don’t seem to get better, so I’ve decided to put this book down for now.
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I had a really hard time reading this book, I feel like it made very little sense in terms of plot. Sadly not great for me
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Thank you to Random House U.K. and NetGalley for this ARC that reminded me why I love fantasy so much.
I enjoy this kind of book because although in a way it has been written so many times, it’s fascinating to see how each author creates their own new world with it’s new set of rules and meanings, although it would have been nice to have a glossary because I really got lost with all the different mana and malia and mals, which slightly detracted from the story.
Overall, deeply enjoyed the book and will definitely be keeping my eye open for the next one in the series, especially given the complete and utter cliffhanger it ends on.
One thing that did slightly bug me about this book was at times the writing felt a leetle but clunky, not obtusely so, but enough to confuse me.
In summary, 4 stars because I loved how unapologetic our heroine is, but I did get lost with all the different bad things hanging around.
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Review will go live on 25th March 2021.

I know that Naomi Novik is one of those fantasy authors with a massive cult following, and that people absolutely rave about her books, but the ones I see most frequently on bookstagram and around the blogosphere are Uprooted and Spinning Silver, neither of which I've read yet. I have read, and enjoyed, the first Temeraire book, but I wasn't spectacularly wowed by it, so I wasn't really sure what to expect with A Deadly Education - would it live up to all the hype? Would I feel similarly about it as I did to His Majesty's Dragon? I think in short, the answer to both of these is no. A Deadly Education is nothing like His Majesty's Dragon, which I'd shelve alongside things like Dragon Master (Chris Bunch), any of the Dragonriders of Pern (Anne McCaffrey) or maybe Northern Lights (Philip Pullman) and Leviathan (Scott Westerfeld). A Deadly Education, in comparison, I would shelve with The Novice (Taran Matharu), Throne of Glass (Sarah J. Maas), Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief (Rick Riordan) or Poison Study (Maria V. Snyder). That's not to say that either are bad books, they're just very different - where His Majesty's Dragon felt like an adult steampunk-esque fantasy, A Deadly Education had a much more YA feel, along with some of the tropes you might expect to find there.

El is a half-Indian, half-Welsh, anti-social girl who is studying at The Scholomance, a school for wizards which quite takes the phrase 'high school is hell' quite literally. Teenage wizards, it turns out, are basically demon magnets, and the school is designed to put the teenagers in one place, so that the maleficaria (the demons) are all drawn to one place, where they can hopefully be regularly killed. Students at the Scholomance go in, and aside from the occasional letter home assuming they can bribe someone to send one, are never seen or heard from again, until they graduate...if they graduate. Whilst there, students spend their entire school careers building up to and preparing for Graduation, a kind of big-boss-fight showdown where the students face off against the maleficaria living in the school, and either defeat them and escape, or die trying. On top of learning every spell they can, preparing means building up supplies of mana and forming alliances with students who are likely to be useful both in graduation itself, and afterwards, because even adult wizards are better off as part of a group than living alone, so getting an in with an enclave is something basically everyone hopes for.

The plot for A Deadly Education is great, and I loved some of the characters; Aadhya and Lu quickly made an impression, and while I found the relationship ups and downs between El and Orion predictable, I did like the way they contrasted and complemented each other at the same time. The world-building is clever, and I'm really intrigued by it - I love the fact that spells students can learn are limited based on the languages they know, and the fact the school is sometimes helpful and sometimes unhelpful gives it an almost Hogwarts-meets-Jumani feel, where you're never quite sure which side it's on or what to expect. I loved that the school isn't all white, English-speaking, rich students, and Novik has clearly made an effort to make the cast of characters more diverse. On the other hand, the complexity that's gone into the worldbuilding makes for a slow pace, particularly at the beginning; there's a lot of infodumping and internal monologue which made it hard for me to really get into, as evidenced by the fact it took me 12 days to read the first half despite only being around 350 pages long, and then I flew through the last half in a day. It also just feels a little strange in terms of target audience, because it's being marketed as adult fantasy, which fits in terms of how dark some of the events are, but the age of the characters, and particularly their approach to relationships, feels very young, and more YA. I'd say if you're a YA fan normally, or you're looking for a crossover title, this is perfect, but for an adult fantasy fan who thinks they're 'too old' for YA (we all know one!), this probably wouldn't work.

Buy it? This is one I'd pick up on a deal.

In a nutshell: Slow to get into, but lots of fun at the end. Reminds me of a kind of Percy Jackson meets Buffy; not what I expected, but I'm definitely going to be getting the second book.

Plot: 3 stars
Characters: 4 stars
Addictiveness: 3 stars
Overall: 3 stars

Other reviews of A Deadly Education: Read at Midnight | Smart Bitches, Trashy Books | Unseen Library
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I received this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Along with many others, I read all about the controversy surrounding this book. I'd also seen a couple of friends love it, and a few other mixed reviews. So it's safe to say that I went in not knowing how I'd feel about it. Controversy aside, I loved it. It really was everything I felt a darker, more YA magic school should be.

I do want to start by talking about some of the things that got everyone all het up when it was released though. I thought that the part about locs was completely not needed, and the point could have been made better, but the furore got out of control - it's clear that Novik was not trying to say locs are dirty, just that hair in general is problematic in this world. I also saw some commentary on some of the languages, and the way they're treated - I think this is again something that another edit may have caught but isn't *that* bad? Language is a prime commodity in the Scholomance, and especially in El's world. Referring to people as "Mandarin speakers" is definitely intended as more factual than derogatory, but again probably could have been phrased a little better.

Right, with that out the way, I want to talk about why I found this book awesome. It's SO DARK. There is death everywhere. El is gloriously sarcastic and I love that she makes a friend by insulting them.

It is hard to come in partway through El's final year as despite what she says about herself, it's hard to imagine El going through the former part of her schooling without making any real friends. That aside though, I found watching her open up a little to her acquaintances and Orion was so lovely. She's so cautious and hidden and guarded, and I liked getting to see that soften without it affecting her naturally prickly personality. We don't get enough characters that maintain that throughout a book!

The monsters are almost a side note in places, but still bring with them a good air of terror - this is extremely well done, to be honest! They're not the point of the book, but something that does affect the everyday lives of those in the school, and walking that line between important but not forefront can be tricky.

My only real niggle was El playing into the "secretly super strong chosen one" trope, but I do love that she hides her strength. 

And that ending! I loved how well it wrapped up a lot of the book, but still left a cliffhanger that left me NEEDING book two right now OMG. I really do need to know what happens in their final year. Can the alliance get out alive? How many more monsters will Orion kill? How many times will El insult him fondly? I need to know!

4.5 stars.
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I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange of a review. All opinions my own. 

This is going to be a long review, mainly because I also want to address the racist complains about the book. First of all, English is my third language, so I am not as native and fluent on it as I would like to. Even though I try to be as educated as I can, I am a white person, so I will try my best researching the matter from various point of view and quoting all relevant information. 

Novik’s magical system relies heavily on languages. While reading the book, it came to my attention how she referred to groups of students as “the Mandarin students”. Since everyone can pick up languages that are not their own to expand the number of spells they can read, and therefore perform, I understand that an easy way to refer to those students, but while you are doing that you are also de-personalizing the language itself. There are also languages who get written on the text while other are just described. Some characters are called upon action, when they have not appeared previously on the story, just because of their language was needed. 

There is a paragraph, which I won’t quote because my book was an ARC and not the definitive version of it, about dreadlocks. Several people have criticised this paragraph as racist and Novik has issued the following apology:

I would also like to quote this review by a Chinese reviewer that I think can be much more insightful on this matter and comes from a culture heavily involved in the book. 

And now, to the book!

The first thing that caught my attention was the Scholomance itself. A magic school where the students had very little contact whit the exterior, and only once a year, there were no teachers but monsters pretty much everywhere trying to get at you if you were not cautious or skilled enough. And as a form of graduation, you have to cross the hall of the school towards the exit in a path full of starved monsters due to the fact they get a meal once a year: on graduation day. 

Galadriel “El” Higgins -she/her- is the main character and yes, I do have to confess that I cringed a bit with the name at the beginning, but it kinda makes sense in the story and they mostly refer to her as El. She is not the best student, nor the worst but she is terrible at socialising which means she has no friends and this is something that plays against her odds of actually making it out alive. I did like El’s character, mostly due her sense of humour and personality, and her growth in the book. It is one of those few times where it doesn’t look like we are going to follow the path of the hero of the story because that is Orion’s path. There is more to this but I want to stay away of spoilery paths. Due to Orion personal crusade to save everybody and try to prevent as much deaths as possible, this makes the monsters of the school specially vicious and hungry as they don’t get as many food as before. 

For me it was a bit difficult to get into the story at the very beginning due to the huge amount of information of world building. It felt like they wanted to get it out of the way as quickly as possible to then get to the action. And in a way, it kinda did, because from my point of view, the pace picked up and I found myself immersed in the story, the task of surviving and gaining alliances. Firsts books in series are usually very heavy in world building and that isn’t something that bothers me or made it boring to read as I enjoyed the idea of the school. However, I do understand it may put some people off.

Novik’s writing is gorgeous. I have read some of her other books and she always impresses me with her style. She tends to be very descriptive and detailed on her prose but, in this book with the teen characters, she has added some suitable witty dialogues and a very personal way of thinking. This is more noticeable in the main characters, giving us a very unreliable version of the events at times, but also very enjoyable due to their prespective. 

I can also feel Novik’s effort in order to make a diverse book, which again, leaves room for improvement but it is undeniably there. I would like to take it in a positive way thinking that she has made the effort, seen a diverse feedback and set her path to improve in the future. Just because something is not as perfect as we would wish for it doesn’t mean that is bad. The book tackles on how the most socially privileged students have higher odds of surviving due to the fact that they belong to enclaves, big groups of magicians, and those less wealthy and underprivileged have to try their hardest to find a way to survive. It also applies to magic users who are born in families of wizards and those who haven’t as they will be summoned at the school with no preparation or knowledge. This is something that really has a main focus on the book and you can see their very deadly consequences. 

Nonetheless, I do have to say for me this book has a very big YA vibe. More similar to the latest HP books or The Maze Runner due to the fact that takes place in a version of a high school where a lot of people die in a very horrible way. It isn’t something that bothers me, as I have enjoyed the story, but if you go into it thinking is going to be a grimdark or high fantasy setting, it is not. 

So I’m actually excited to see where the story is going and what are we going to find in the next books. I think there are a lot of engaging seeds planted for further development that would be very interesting to read about. And if the publisher maintains the work and details of the editions, with illustrations and designs of the Scholomance, well, it only adds on to it.
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An unusual school that will never bore its students or the readers.

My Rating: 2 Stars

This book wasn't my cup of tea. I didn't enjoy it as I thought I would. I felt that the last few chapters of the book were the most vital part of this book. I partial towards El's character. She was independent, wanted to have genuine friends, and never went after names. She was an enigma till the end. This book ends with a slight cliffhanger if you could count one line from El's mum that. This book wasn't for me, but you might try reading it and find for yourself if you like it or not.

Thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for this eARC.
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El is a student at Scholomance, where failure cannot be considered. Unable to trust the students around her and with a deeply prickly, anti sociable nature, she retreats into herself. Brilliantly dark and with power-the-world-knows-not, she is wonderfully un-likable. 

The humour with which Novik writes, mixed with the joyfully descriptive world building made this a joy to read.
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I have to be honest, I love Naomi Novik's book, so I might not be fully objective here.

Without a surprise, I have really enjoyed this book, I got a bit annoyed at some of the characters (Orion was one of them at the begining of the novel, but I grew out of that a bit). I felt that the main character did, a times, falls a bit into some of the stereotypical caracteristics of a YA heroin (beautiful and overpowered, but hey, I love that kind of YA, so it did not put me off that much), but Novik managed to balance it a bit and I quite enjoyed that.

The rythm of the book was weirdly unsettling, it felt like a slow paced introduction to the universe Novik is creating, but at the same time there some really tense moments, and I definitely rushed through that book as I really wanted to see what was going to happen next. Also, I really don't know how I did not see coming the "twist" at the end of the book ! I am looking forward for the next book.

I am reading my NetGalley copy after the contreversy surrounding the book, my copy did contained a really offending passage on dreadlocks, it is my understanding that both the publisher and the author have removed it on reprint and e-book file. This definitely was one of the issue surrounding the book, and it made me cringe quite a lot. I'm white and don't know a lot about Indian and Chinese culture, so while reading in context of the book (and with my own privileg and ignorance), I did not find it offensive, however, reading other review about it made realised why people did find the book offensive. I really hope Naomi Novik will follow up on her official apology and work of thie issue raised for her future books.
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'A Deadly Education' is a dark tale full of magic and monsters, alliances and enemies. I wasn't keen at the beginning and the first few chapters were a slog through a lot of internal monologue. The world building is excellent and I was intrigued by the whole setup of the magical school so I kept going and am very glad I did. I came to really enjoy the prickly and contrary main character and her interactions with the other characters. The society and situation of the school is very compelling and I want to read more. Bring on book two.
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A Deadly Education reeled me from the very first line. The premise and allure of dark academia really set my expectations, and the book did deliver to an extent. 

Novik's writing is excellent, as are her characters. The problem for me lay in the world building and the explanation of the magic system. It took me multiple tries to understand correctly, which affected my pacing of the book.  Additionally, some descriptive choices used by the author did make me uncomfortable, but it didn't tarnish my overall experience of the book. I look forward to so much more from the author!
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I’ve been wanting to find an alternative to the Harry Potter books, since JKR started writing particularly hateful screeds against the trans* community earlier this year. I’ve also been meaning to read more Naomi Novik for a lot longer, so this new series looked like it might fill both reading gaps rather neatly, being the author’s first foray into Young Adult fantasy. I was also rather taken by the blurb, which seemed to promise us a snarky anti-heroic protagonist and a suitably heroic ally-cum-antagonist. Add in a semi-sentient school and hoards of monsters just desperate to eat all the students, and it all looked like being tremendous fun.

Galadriel (El) Higgins is the daughter of a Welsh hippie mother and a well-to-do Indian father, who died saving his wife and unborn child from a rampaging magical beast. Initially welcomed by her father’s family, El’s propensities to draw on darker magics herself led to their subsequently wanting nothing to do with either El or her mother. El’s mother is something of a celebrity in both the magical world and amongst the new age set in the non-magical population, something El tries hard to live down – almost as hard as she tries to only use magics of which her mother would approve, in spite of her school’s tendency to supply her with spells suited to her potential, rather than to those skills she would like to develop. El is also something of a loner, both as a result of her upbringing and because her fellow students sense that she has a dark side and tend to avoid her because of it.

Into the mess that is El’s life and her continued determination to survive a school that kills a large proportion of its students – though not as many as would die if left out in the wider world for the monsters to prey on before the youngsters have learned to defend themselves – steps – or rather launches himself – Orion Lake. One of the popular students, due to his connections as well as due to his habit of saving his classmates from imminent death and devouring, Orion has rescued El twice by their fourth year at the school. El, cynic that she is, is convinced that both situations were Orion’s fault in the first place, of course.

When El and Orion discover that more monsters than usual are invading the upper levels of the school – which may also be partly Orion’s fault – they have to gather together a team to fix the problem before the current senior year undergo their potentially fatal graduation night. The seniors, however, are not entirely keen on having younger students interfering, setting circumstances in motion for an even grander showdown.

I liked this book a lot, in spite of some of its glaring flaws, which have been pointed out by other reviewers. While the author has tried to be more diverse in the race, ethnicity and nationalities of her cast of characters, mistakes have been made. Personally, I could have put a lot of that down to El’s general cluelessness, and I suspect the next book will make attempts to correct any glaring errors. I did also feel that there was a lack of LGBT+ representation, which I found quite surprising. Again, there’s more to come from this universe, so I’m hoping that was also just a case of El failing to notice and/or comment on the activities and identities of her fellow students.
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I was really excited to pick up A Deadly Education. A school where you might die at any moment and you're not allowed to leave until graduation. I didn't really know anything more than that before I went into it and I didn't need anything else either. It sounded like it got dark academia vibes and I'm all for that. 

I love magical schools in my books but this is one school I'm happy I never had to attend haha. Kids with magical abilities go here because they will be attacked outside of school by maleficaria, nightmarish creatures that take all kinds of shapes. There is actually a lot of world building in this book and I've seen it as one of the things people didn't like about it. I never felt like there was an info dump at all. Whenever we needed to know more, the author gave us the information. Maybe it's because I thought it was super interesting, but I loved learning more about the school and the world. I'm sure there is a ton more to learn and I can't wait to do so in the sequel. 

Galadriel, or El as she prefers, is our main character and I adored her.  She tries to survive in this killing environment where allies are super important for that survival. And she wants to do it without compromising who she is. I have a lot of respect for her! She wasn't super likeable all the time but that made me like her all the more. And I enjoyed seeing her develop relationships with other students. Another important character is Orion. He was so cute! I loved his protectiveness towards basically everyone. And it was wonderful getting to know the boy behind the 'hero'. 

The plot in this first book is basically about El surviving this school year. And while that might sound like not much of a plot, I was super invested and loved it a lot. It was high stakes because definitely not everyone makes it to the end of the book. With the world building, character development and plot there was a lot going on in this story. And it wasn't even that big of a book. We left the character with a big cliffhanger and I think I actually yelped out loud when I realised that was the ending haha. I can't wait for the sequel and I hate that I have to wait so long haha.
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I enjoyed this and I like how Naomi Novik has tried to revamp the magic school setting with darkness, monsters and unique worldbuilding featuring a diverse cast of characters. As a fan of Novik’s other novels I really enjoyed her style of writing, my only complaint would maybe be that the inner monologue of the main character and the behaviour of other characters seemed juvenile at times, however this may just be down to my expectations of this book being catered to an older audience, which I was wrong about. I would also say to read reviews by BIPOC readers who highlight points to be aware of which may come across as having racist undertones.
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I've been in a reading slump for the last few months and this was an excellent antidote to that. It had me reading in the middle of the night (despite knowing better given that my 2 month old is limiting my chances for sleep), because I had to know what happened next.

El certainly isn't the most likeable of characters, but I like her bluntness and uncompromising approach to the restrictions of her society and particularly the scholomance. I'm really looking forward to the next 2 installments of the series.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for this ARC.
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I really enjoyed this book, its been a while since I've had a book I couldn't put down and I read this to 1am last night so it clearly ticked a lot of boxes for me!

I found the characters narrative to be really interesting. This book has a lot of made up magic in format of spells and names (monsters) and I was never once left confused about what was going on.

It set up a lot of information to lead into the next book all whilst being a super interesting first book. Cant wait for the next one! 

Thanks NetGalley for the ARC.
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Sometimes, books are very easy to talk about, and reviews write themselves: things are great (or maybe not great, but still notable), and I am very excited to point them out! Other books are not easy to talk about, and when that happens it's usually a failure to connect: a book that was probably fine, but which left me without much that I'm desperate to convey about it, and looking for the right words to describe the experience is a more active challenge. And then... then you get books like A Deadly Education, Naomi Novik's latest offering. This book is hard to talk about because, wow, where do I start.
Well, let's start with the basics. A Deadly Education is set in a magic school with the horror dialled up to eleven: set in the Scholomance, a school which annually scoops up a mostly-preselected group of magical teens from around the world and dumps them in an educational facility mostly located in a void dimension (which, in turn, is located in the UK, because where else would a magic boarding school be??). There appears to be a fully fledged, functioning society beyond the walls of this magic school, but we only catch glimpses of it through flashback, because for four years the students of the scholomance are locked in without adults, holidays or even any school supplies that aren't either brought in through freshers or provided at the whims of the school's magical replenishment. This is because in this version of our world, magical kids are walking magnets for various magical monstrosities which view them as soft, tasty targets to devour. The school is supposed to protect them from this fate, but monsters are nothing if not persistent, and every year only a fraction of the top class gets the opportunity to graduate, and an even smaller percentage makes it through graduation, because graduation (you guessed it) involves even more monsters.
The reader is guided through this nightmare scenario - in a lot of descriptive first person prose - by El Higgins, a Junior year student (yes, this international magical boarding school in the UK has an internal structure based on the US high school system) who is fighting an uphill battle not just to stay alive against the monsters, but to do it alone, while trying to control a magical aptitude that wants to push her towards being mana-sucking evil sorceress with an arsenal of destructive spells. El hasn't made any friends during her stay at the Scholomance so far, but she's biding her time for a big magical gesture that will make everyone around her pay attention and ask her to join their team for graduation, maybe even getting her into a wealthy, protected magical enclave in the process. Complicating this plan for survival is Orion Lake, her year's big superstar, whose own affinity means that he's saved an impressive proportion of his own year from being snacked on by monsters before graduation. That's great news for everyone who hasn't been a monster snack, but bad news for the class about to graduate, who are facing an unusually busy and hungry graduation "ceremony" when they leave the school.
El is a rather dense and self-sabotaging protagonist, so when Orion starts showing an interest in her - first as a suspect in another student's murder, but then as, shock horror, an actual friend - she decides this is terrible, actually, and spends a lot of time trying to shake him off. But it's too late: Orion's interest in her gets El noticed by the wider student body (especially the students of the elite New York enclave to which Orion belongs) and also pushes her to start thinking about choosing her own friends, notably artificer Aadhya and dark-mage-gone-clean Liu. Readers who are wondering if maybe this is the book where Novik will push these interesting female relationships into the foreground over having the day saved by heterosexual attraction: sorry, nope. El's chosen friendships do play an important role, but they're ultimately second fiddle to her relationship with Orion and the plots surrounding that, and it's El and Orion - from among the main cast, at least - who end up saving the day.
This book has been strongly criticised for its handling of race, and particularly one thoughtless (by the author's own admission: and racist passage involving Black hair. Beyond this, there's been a range of reactions, both positive and negative, from reviewers of colour reacting to the broader setting and how the international setting of the Scholomance is handled. As a white reviewer, it's not my place at all to pass judgement on the points raised, but there's no escaping the fact that El's world is a mix of the kind of diversity you get on Captain Planet or the Star Trek bridge, with students from every continent and culture apparently converging in this corner of Void!Britain and slotting into a mostly homogenised school culture. Language is a big part of spellcasting, and most students, El included, have a curriculum focused on learning as many languages as possible in order to cast spells in them. There's also a very obvious but unremarked upon prevalence of white characters in the key positions of power (the New York and London enclaves) that El finds herself butting heads with. El herself is mixed race, but was raised by a white British mother and rejected by her Indian relatives due to her magical affinity. There's nothing inherently problematic about that - characters of colour shouldn't have to justify themselves with some threshold of cultural performance to exist, and there are plenty of mixed race and diaspora people who grow up without strong cultural connections to some or all of their heritage. But it's impossible to ignore the fact that real world prejudices and inequalities do appear all around this worldbuilding, even if the setting is supposed to be divorced from that context. As a reader, my reaction to those prejudices being replicated in an ostensibly representative text is to look to whether I trust the author to be doing something intentional and therefore potentially worthwhile: is this book trying to say something, or am I just experiencing the author's dead angles replicated on the page? Passages like the description of locs, or another moment where El identifies a language worksheet as being "modern" Arabic because it has cartoon depictions of terrorist acts on it, make it really hard to interpret A Deadly Education as doing anything but the former. And, sure, there's a lot of books and authors out there doing worse things, and caring a lot less - and in many ways, it's A Deadly Education's commitment to trying to imagine a genuinely diverse, international magic school that makes its dead angles so obvious - but that doesn't make the failings here less disappointing, especially as this is a book that had resources for sensitivity reading.
Frankly, this kind of thing leaves me tired. The Scholomance is an interesting take on a trope that still has great potential, but I don't want to read about societies of international sorcerers, and their special magic schools in a story that expects white wizards of the US and UK to be the centre of power within that international system. It doesn't help that, despite enjoying her previous work, there are other elements in the kinds of stories Novik seems to want to write that are exhausting to me too: I am tired of having interesting relationships between women dangled in front of me and then pushed aside for heterosexual pairings that are at best "meh" and at worst super creepy, and I'm tired of stories that subvert their subgenres on the surface while still being tied to the same patriarchal nonsense as their predecessors. A Deadly Education is, in many ways, an enjoyable book: a bit grim, a little slow to start, and very invested in its explanations, but ultimately a lot of fun. But as a multiple award winner and nominee, I think Novik's work asks to be held to higher standards than that, and this is a book that falls short in a number of unfortunate ways.
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As a Naomi Novik fan, I was looking forward to reading A Deadly Education. Dark Academia is a much-wanted genre right now with the likes of Ninth House, The Secret History, become favourites, despite the latter being published nearly thirty years ago, and this is why A Deadly Education came out at the perfect time. It was a shame to see the controversy around some of the sensitivity issues which maybe could have been handled better but it was still a thoroughly enjoyable read.
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Last book of the year! I enjoyed this a lot, especially the practical magic system and the murderous school concept. It was a nice sideswipe at all those stories where the kid/teen protagonists are constantly in mortal danger but are not technically supposed to be and all the adults act like teenagers having to risk their lives to save the day is somehow normal. 

El was a great protagonist. One of the things I absolutely love about Naomi Novik's young female characters is that they get to be angry - not a bit stroppy for character spice, not just quirkily sarcastic, but proper angry, for reasons. They don't take it on the chin or smile graciously or swallow bullshit so as not to upset some delicate status quo. They get to be inconvenient and furious and express their frustrations and it's wonderful. 

I loved the theme of trying to find your people and feeling you don't fit in; watching El try to navigate the pitfalls of alliances and rivalries while figuring out who she is and what her hard limits  are was so compelling, and I absolutely adored her negotiations with people who might turn out to be not just allies but friends. Friendship arcs ftw!

I couldn't help noticing some parallel themes and dynamics previously encountered in Sarah Rees Brennan's In Other Lands. They're clearly incidental and multiple stories can explore similar themes, obviously; also El can hold her own as a unique protagonist. It did mean though that I got very bored with Orion very quickly - Luke Sunborn he is not, and I couldn't help the comparisons, since both the Reluctant Golden Boy thing and the dynamics with El just felt very familiar. It's a minor issue mostly compounded by my shamelessly biased and unending love for In Other Lands. (Mostly I'm just waiting for Orion to grow a personality of his own.)

Very much looking forward to the second volume! Can't wait to see what these crazy kids get up to next.

PS: El, you absolute brat. Your mum is 34 AT MOST. How very dare you describe her as "going gently plump in middle age"?? Detention for a week! Teenagers.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Sometimes there is a book which comes along at the wrong time.

I had loved Spinning Silver and Uprooted by this author so thought this was a book I would love.

However the concept of a "wizarding" type school where students draw on  "good" or "bad" energy wasn't enough to keep me reading at this time.  The narrator's voice was wry and knowing which was an interesting feature.. Iy was well written.

Another time I will probably devour this book but sadly not now.
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