Release date: 28 September 2021
Special editions: Waterstones exclusive with stenciled edge, Goldsboro signed edition
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 . . .
Novik’s second installment in The Scholomance Trilogy was even less enjoyable to me than the first, though the first did not connect with me very well, either, and I certainly did not find it stunning. El has to be the worst, least sympathetic main character I’ve ever read. She’s not only cranky perpetually, but she’s so self-righteous and stuck up that I almost dnf’ed because of the preachiness and constant complaining. She does not improve, either. No matter the connections she makes with other characters, she is still the same churlish, cantankerous snot of a person.
The book quite obviously consists of two parts: classes in the first half and final mal battle for graduation in the second. With no really side plot going on and our main story consisting of what our self-righteous narrator, El, is going through, The Last Graduate really just gives readers more of what A Deadly Education does, with the exception of a more fully developed relationship with her fellow students and her most illustriously stupid meat-wall love interest, Orion. I can’t stand himbos. They’re a hypocritical caricature of everything feminism hates women being stereotyped as. Somehow, they’re acceptable. I don’t think they should be.
The best part of the plot is the end, which gives readers a huge cliffhanger and propels them through to the next part of the trilogy and is a cheap trick, in my opinion. I’m so disappointed with this series; Naomi Novik has been such a great storyteller for me to pick up with her last two novels, Uprooted and Spinning Silver. I had such high expectations for this. I feel I may have let myself down a bit, since they were my expectations and not the author’s, but after a while, I have come to expect a certain amount of increase in skill from writers, and I do not feel I got that here.
My thanks to Del Rey/Ballantine/Random House books for the review copy, for which I give my own, honest opinion.