Page Count 368
Publication date September 2021
Publisher Del Rey
A budding dark sorceress determined not to use her formidable powers uncovers yet more secrets about the workings of her world in the stunning sequel to A Deadly Education, the start of Naomi Novik’s groundbreaking crossover series.
At the Scholomance, El, Orion, and the other students are faced with their final year—and the looming specter of graduation, a deadly ritual that leaves few students alive in its wake. El is determined that her chosen group will survive, but it is a prospect that is looking harder by the day as the savagery of the school ramps up. Until El realizes that sometimes winning the game means throwing out all the rules..
First off it’s worth noting if you haven’t read A Deadly Education then there is absolutely no point in picking up The Last Graduate, go back and start at the beginning.
If you have read Deadly Education then be warned there’s no quick summary or reminders to be found in Lesson Two of the Scholomance. We go straight in and continue the story where Book One left Galadriel, as if I’d left a movie on pause for an entire year. It took me a moment to refamiliarise myself with the language, characters and world Novik created.
If you’re still reading this I’m going to take it that you’ve read A Deadly Education and I don’t need to cover the basic concepts of this story. Alternatively you can jump back to my review of Book One HERE.
El is an odd character, she’s selfless and generous, yet rude and constantly belligerent too. Somehow Novik makes it work and I find El surprisingly endearing. Usually I’d be annoyed at such an emotionally stunted character but instead I was entertained by El’s total lack of manners and disinterest in the enclavers whom I liken to high-school stereotype clics; the cheerleaders and jocks of the Scholomance world.
As is often the case with the school ‘outcast’, El has developed a few friendships over the first book and we see a lot more of Liu and Aadyha in The Last Graduate.
There are quite a few other names bandied about and at times i found it hard to keep track, as I mentioned previously there is no recap or much of any reference to Book One, so I often felt I’d forgotten relevant information about minor characters in the year since I’d read it.
Perhaps it’s because there is less world building this time around, or maybe it all seems a little to easy for El now but The Last Graduate seemed to meander through a long beginning. Not a lot was going on and the action had become second place to El’s constant internal monologue.
Annoyingly, having ended A Deadly Education on such a meaty cliffhanger, El almost entirely disregards her mothers ominous note in the opening of The Last Graduate and Orion is rarely mentioned to start.
Whilst I enjoyed the turn of events in The Last Graduate and still adore the world Novak has built, it did turn out out be quite a slog.
I can best describe it as one long tactical planning session. The action in the last chapter was fantastic and held all the emotion I wanted to see throughout the earlier chapters.
I’m not sure whether this was a duology as the ending could easily be another cliffhanger, but for me I’ll be quite content with the Story of The Scholomance finishing on that last sentence. You’ll see why if you read it yourself… so if you do, please let me know how you felt about the end. Should it end here?
One thought on “Book Review; The Last Graduate- Naomi Novik”
Great review! Thanks for the heads up that knowledge of the first book is key; I’m waiting until I have time to read both books together before I pick up the first book now.