Series: The Scholomance #2
Author: Naomi Novik
My rating: 4.8 stars
Monsters, a deadly school, and students desperate to survive Graduation.
Another year in the school that’s built to torture, maim, traumatize, and preferably devour its students by means of magical monsters and similar hazards, while also being the safest place for said students. As expected, senior year is significantly worse than ever, where the school has it in for El, the students glimpse El’s own horrific capabilities, and El has to balance her precarious social life, which for her, is way more difficult than casting mass murder spells.
The story picks off right where it ended, with El receiving a charming letter from the mother she hasn’t heard from in years, warning her away from the first friend she ever made in her entire life. Since this warning could be related to El’s potential prophesied ascension to wicked witch of the world, it’s probably good advice. In the meantime, she still has to pass and survive daily life at the school, make plans for surviving Graduation (some monsters are big, some are BIGGER), and avoid getting entangled in any enclave schemes. Best of all, even with friends and a bit more optimism, El is still the same aggressive, rude, pragmatic girl that I love. Where others put breaks on their rudeness for reasons of social politeness, El speaks from the depths of her dark hating heart, free and true to herself.
Worst of all, her exposure to friends, to hope, and all those horrible good things like getting to know and care about other people has El getting concerned for those people and doing crazy things like sticking her neck out for them. Growing a conscience before Graduation is the worst possible timing.
There were plenty of plot twists in this book. Everything seemed so clear and obvious, only to turn completely inside out halfway through in a way that works perfectly in hindsight. I also liked how some of the side characters got their own mini arcs and backstories without taking over the main plot.
The ending – wow, was that a shocker. Be warned: even though it feels like everything is all neatly wrapped up on the penultimate pages, the final words throw a major shock that I can’t even imagine how the next book in the series will fix. Usually, by the time one gets up to the final book in a series, all the major plot points have been set up, and it’s smooth sailing through the final book. We only read those final books for the details and satisfaction of coming to the end of the journey. Here, I totally thought we hit happily ever after, only to be hit on the head with a hammer. Not an evil hammer, per se. It just reverberated louder because I wasn’t expecting it at all. But who am I to complain? This means that there’s going to be completely new adventures in the next book, and where is it already?
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.