The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik – Review

Published: September 28, 2021

Publisher: Del Rey Books

Series: The Scholomance #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 400 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

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 . . .


Holy crapola Batman! The Last Graduate may have been THE most anticipated sequel on my TBR for 2021 and boy, did it live up to all my hopes and dreams! This book was so much fun that I couldn’t put it down for two days. Every moment of free time I had, I spent with my nose stuffed in the pages of this book (or rather, with eyes glued to my phone). 

This picks up hot on the heels of the enigmatic ending of A Deadly Education, where El’s mother sends her a note saying to stay away from Orion Lake. I spent nearly a year wondering what that vague note could have possibly meant. We aren’t given too much time to ponder it and El has little desire to dwell upon it, so we get right into the groove of things. Her senior year has started and it proves to be somewhat… unexpected. Since clearing out the graduation hall and fixing up some machinery, there aren’t many mals attacking people. Orion is devastated of course, because he draws loads of mana from them when he goes all monster slaying hero and he thinks it’s assloads of fun. El on the other hand, seems to be getting the brunt of the mal attacks and she is not amused. The Scholomance seems to have it out for her – she’s in tons of difficult classes, has a weird one all by herself so she can be ambushed, and one where she’s the only senior in a room full of dewy eyed freshmen and mals just keep trying to eat them. 

This is how pretty much the whole first half of the book goes – El’s trying to figure out why the school has it out for her, she sneaks peeks at Orion at every chance (while also trying to avoid him??), and she’s blowing up mals. The second half shifts focus quite a bit to graduation preparation, which was rather exciting at first. It did wear on me after some time because it goes on for so long. It never really stopped being fun, I just wanted them to move on to the next big, fun thing. The ending was a real cliffhanger – I mean, absolutely jaw dropping – and I am dying to get my hands on the next book to see how that turns out!

Overall, if you enjoyed the first book, this is more of the same awesomeness with slightly less acting on romantic tendencies and slightly more trying to avoid Orion. Mostly so El doesn’t get all stupid for him right before she’s about to fight for her life. The snark is still present, though somewhat toned down since she’s actually made some real friends, and there’s more focus on her insecurities about having actual friends. It’s loads of fun and I can’t wait to see more reviews as it gets closer to release day! Also, I couldn’t resist adding the hardcovers to my library and pre-ordered this already and picked up A Deadly Education.

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