Cover Image: A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education

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Member Reviews

This book is going to be fiercely adored by readers and, because of some supreme touches of brilliance, deservedly so.
It definitely feels like the first in a series, there’s a lot of exposition in there and foreshadowing being set up, at certain points it becomes a little repetitive. But, it’s building to something brilliant, that much is obvious and whatever doubts I had were utterly annihilated by that killer last line. 
And it works as a sharp allegory about capitalism which is very refreshing in a genre that often gets stuck in a Public School elitist mire. 
By the end of the book I was cross with myself for reading it at such an early stage, because the wait to read the next instalment is going to hurt!
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Fantastically refreshing and fascinating world building, vibrant protagonist, and lots of fun. This kind of book is sometimes hard to find; one that takes tropes and genres and gives them new life and a fresh coat of paint. A great spin on the "magic boarding school" story.
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I've given three 5-star ratings to books in 2020. This is the fourth. 

There are some books that are 4.75 stars and I’ll round them up to five online, but there are very, very few that I give a solid 5 because for me that would mean there was absolutely nothing about the book I'd want to change. A Deadly Education was absolute perfection for me; I loved every second of it and from the second I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. 

I'm just not really sure where to start with this review because I'm slightly concerned I'm going to turn into a gushing mess. I really think Naomi Novik is one of the best fantasy authors out there at the moment, and when I saw my request for an ARC of A Deadly Education had been approved I screamed (that should give you an indication of how excited I was to receive it). I enjoyed Uprooted, but I LOVED Spinning Silver (a rare 5-star read for 2019), and I already know that A Deadly Education is going to be in my yearly favourites round-up. I mean, I'm already excited for the second book and the first one isn't even out yet. 

It’s almost harder to write a review for a book you’ve loved because you have no criticisms to talk about. When it’s good it’s more like, plot: amazing, characters: incredible, world-building: fantastic. This is a departure from the loose fairy-tale retellings of Uprooted and Spinning Silver, it’s dark and filled with monsters and murder. At first when I saw it was about a magical school I was like, great another Harry Potter rip-off. But I was so wrong. A Deadly Education brought back all those feelings of magic and excitement, but in a totally different way.
The Scholomance has no teachers, no adults, no outside communication, just monsters that want to kill you, classmates that want to kill you, and a final test that will almost certainly kill you. 

Novik has incredible skill at writing characters, even side characters felt fleshed-out and like they stood in their own stead with their own motivations (rather than just being there to further the plot). Galadriel (El) has fast become one of my favourite protagonists of all time. She was an outcast, but also strong and snarky and just generally awesome. From the very first line in the book I was totally invested in her story. Orion was also a great character, and the way he and El interacted was interesting and believable. I'm so excited to read more from all the characters in the future, and can't wait to see their development as the series progresses. As a side note, I loved the multiculturalism of the school, there were characters from all over the world and it never felt like they’d been shoehorned in in the name of diversity. 

I loved this book so much that I’ll be purchasing this as a hardback the second it comes out so it can sit with my other favourites on my bookshelf. I'm also keeping my fingers crossed for a beautiful front cover, as I'm going to be plastering this all over my bookstagram account for sure! I can't wait for this to come out because there’s so many people I'm going to recommend this to who I just know are going to love it as much as I did! I absolutely can't wait to see where this series goes, although I fear I'm going to have to wait a bit!

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Naomi Novik is one of my favourite writers working today.

She's famous for the Temeraire series: alternate history Regency-era fantasies where intelligent dragons essentially act as airborn artillery in the British armed forces as they battle against Napolean. I really liked the Temeraire books and have read all of them - but not until after that series was complete and Ms Novik published UPROOTED, which can be taken as a very loose Beauty & the Beast retelling, did I become a superfan. And I do mean a superfan. UPROOTED pressed every button that my fairytale and folklore obsessed heart possessed, and I loved it so much that I recommended it to literally every bookish person I met for the next year.

I had her next book, SPINNING SILVER, on pre-order the moment it was available on the Waterstone's website, and when it turned up and my sad, RSI-weakened hands could not actually hold it long enough to read it (it's a hardback and it's chunky, OK, and I need to be able to bring books up close to my face because my eyes are rubbish) I turned around and got the ebook, but kept the hardback anyway because it was signed. Me. This perpetually skint, compulsively thrifty person. Who even am I? This what the prospect of a new Naomi Novik book does to me.

So the female-focused folklore inspired fantasy was a pretty big departure for the author of a very, very successful and long-running series with a male protagonist. And A DEADLY EDUCATION is yet another daring swerve for the author. It's what I would call contemporary urban fantasy, or maybe contemporary alternate history (the 'everything's the same except there's a secret magical world' variety) and hovering right on the edge of the crossover market. When I saw this pop up in Netgalley I nearly dislocated my finger, I hit the 'Request' button with such fervour. Only afterwards did I notice that this wasn't another fairytale inspired novel, but something entirely different. I prepared myself to maybe not love it quite so much.

Ha. Yeah. Nope. I would still sell my immortal soul for this woman.

First, I need to get this out there: this is an absolutely bonkers book. I can't emphasize enough how barmy it is. Story. Characters. Tone. It's like nothing you've read before. But! At the same time, it IS. Because it is straight-up parodying not only Harry Potter but the parade of other 'magic highschool' novels which followed in HP's stratospheric wake.

This is a book that has set out to answer the question so many of us have asked regarding Hogwarts as we looked back at the series as adults: who in the heck would ever send their kid there, and WHY would they allow them STAY there when the kids are writing letters home saying: "Thanks for the new socks. Got an A in Transfiguration but only a B in Herbology. Oh, and there's a giant savage three headed dog chained up in one of the corridors that would kill any of us instantly - and we learned lock-picking spells in charms today! Love to Dad."

As a kid, you just imagine how damn cool it would be to get to go to Hogwarts and have adventures, but as the aunt of several nieces who just barely managed to survive to adulthood despite excellent quality helicopter parenting and notable lack of magic wands, I do wonder... why would an adult who is responsible for the welfare of hundreds of vulnerable children hide the Philosopher's Stone in their school, practically guaranteeing that Voldemort's agents would turn up there? Who approved sending eleven year olds into the Forbidden Forest in the middle of the night for *detention* without even ensuring they would have adequate adult supervision when a unicorn killing monster is known to be in there? Not to mention the giant spiders? What about the Whomping Willow? Allowing school to stay in session after all the adults are damn well aware that the Chamber of Secrets has been opened again and a deadly unidentified creature is on the lose within the walls? VOLUNTARILY ENTERING KIDS INTO THE GOBLET OF FIRE??

I mean, what is WITH this place? For heaven's sake, if you didn't know any better you might almost say it's like they're trying to, I don't know, kill the kids off on purpose somehow, cull out the weak, sift the wheat... from... the... ?

Yep. That's totally what the Wizarding world was doing, isn't it? Sorry, readers, but it's true. You're lucky your Hogwarts letter never came, because chances are that you wouldn't have made it out alive (me either, for the record).

Really, only Harry Potter's bulletproof rose-tinted glasses - conveniently provided by a total lack of the proper socialisation and vital attention required by a developing child, not to mention the routine starvation, neglect, and physical and emotional abuse of his family - allowed us, the readers, to believe anything different. The cupboard under the stairs made even a life in which he was continually thrown into near-death situations by his adult caretakers and expected to save everyone seem great by comparison as long as people fed him and noticed his existence. But for anyone else... well. I think Hogwarts would seem pretty much like Naomi Novik's invention in A DEADLY EDUCATION: the Scholomance.

Scholomance is what Hogwarts was really like. No one is happy to be on this school's admission list. It's effectively a meat grinder for magical kids. You're all alone there - there are no teachers, the school itself sets your assignments and punishes you gruesomely if you fail - and if the kids kill each other off? Well, what happens in Scholomance mostly stays in Scholomance. And you're not only potentially under attack by other kids, who want to move up the rankings, oh no. You're also under constant attack by 'mals', magical monsters who slurp up the fresh and shiny life force of children as if it were Mountain Dew and which, despite the best magical protections the school has to offer, have a nasty habit of popping out of the scrambled eggs on the breakfast buffet, from out of the plugholes in the shared bathroom, and even through the keyhole of your dorm room in the middle of the night.

Now, of course you can avoid going if your parents take you off the list - but even though your odds of getting out of Scholomance alive are roughly one in four (yep, it's brutal) it's still better odds than staying out in the world, where magical children going through puberty are monster magnets and your odds are more like one-in-twenty - and that's IF your family belongs to an 'enclave', a sort of wealthy, influential and privileged Feudal compound, with powerful adults who will probably be willing to risk their lives to defend you. Once you hit eighteen or so, the monsters don't consider you particularly interesting anymore, but in the meantime, you put everyone you love, including younger siblings who aren't yet going through puberty, and older relatives who may not have strong enough magic or the right affinity to defend themselves, in danger.

And if you're not in an enclave, like the heroine of this story - Galadriel, or 'El'? Well, not going to the Scholomance is basically just hoping that when the monsters eventually DO get at you, they eat your mum (or dad, or big sister, or the neighbour lady) first and give you time to get away. This is not cool with El, whose mum is a hippy ray of sunshine, an insanely kind, positive and powerful healer who only ever uses her power to make the world a better place and refuses compensation for any of her work. She's totally alone in the world and only escaped the Scholomance herself as a teen because Galadriel's father - knowing that El's mum was three months pregnant - sacrified himself to a hideous monster to save her life. El's mum lives in a commune in Wales and is beloved by everyone who meets her. She could have the pick of any powerful 'enclave' in the world. Except. Except that El is NOT an insanely kind, positive and powerful Healer.

Oh, she's insanely powerful, all right. In fact, she can pull the lifeforce out of any other wizard she likes, no matter how strong or well-defended, at the blink of an eye, and has an affinity for enchantments of darkness, destruction and death. When free-writing poetry, she accidentally creates spells to invoke supervolcanoes. She can literally kill you with a flick of her hand, and from a small child, people who look at her are inexplicably filled with (depending on their character) fear, revulsion or awe. Her own father's family, despite having adored her deceased father and practically worshipping her mother, tried to off her when she was a kid because they, vegetarian, Pacifist Good Wizards, were convinced she would bring about the endtimes, and was better off dead.

The only reason she is not already ruling the universe 'ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR!' style is that, thanks to her mum, she actually doesn't WANT to hurt anyone. Which, predictably, drives her up the wall, because the way people, even quite nice people, treat her - as if she was automatically a horrible, wicked person - means that she WANTS to want to hurt them. She just can't bring herself to really DO it.

El is Bellatrix LeStrange, if she had been brought up to have an unshakeable moral compass. Killing people and being wicked, cruel and villainous would be a piece of cake for her, and in order to be good, she has to work about ten times as hard as a normal person, because every time she uses magic it wants to twist into something dark. And she knows that if she gave into that urge, even once, she would end up respected, feared, unstoppably powerful, and SAFE - but also, on the path to becoming the monster she's determined never to be. She's bitter, caustic, antagonistic, and perhaps the most purely decent and moral character I've ever read. I LOVES HER MY PRECIOUS.

So much for our setting and protagonist: this is where people reviewing fantasy books usually talk about 'the magic system'. Personally I hate that phrase. Look, you have a drainage 'system', don't you, and how it works is that it's made out of metal pipes, and when you turn a tap it runs, and if it breaks down then you call someone with a spanner who will replace a part and it will work again. Magic, being the "non-meat by-product of existence", something fundamentally non-classifiable, illogical, elemental, spiritual (thank you, N.K. Jemisin) may have rules or ideals or spells, but if it has a 'system' - for instance, the one in Harry Potter, where you wave your wand a certain way and say certain words and unless your wand is broken or you got the gesture or words wrong, you get the same result every single time, just like flushing the toilet - pretty much bore me to tears.

This is why I always see questions in reviews for *my* books asking why the 'magic system' wasn't better explained and why didn't we get all the consequences explored and classified and why didn't I put down exactly why and how it all works? BECAUSE IT'S BORING! It's not a supposed to be like a magic trick, where there's a logical explanation for everything and the rabbit was up his sleeve all along. It's suppposed to be actual magic. And with actual magic, just like art, sometimes you do all the right things and it turns out awful, and sometimes the power of love is enough to fix everything and sometimes the power of love is enough to ruin everything, and somethings the thing you hated and sweated through and got wrong in every way is the best thing you ever did.

A DEADLY EDUCATION has *that* kind of magic. The good kind. The kind where there are certainly rules and spells, but where, just like in Garth Nix's or Lois McMaster Bujold's work, effort and intention are what powers your magic, and your dread and fear or even joy can warp reality (just like Heisenberg said! Well, sort of). I love how this kind of magic can have all kinds of unexpected effects and the interaction of differing factors can invent something entirely new.

The writing is absolutely smooth as silk. Not fancy, or lyrical, but just utterly competent and powerful and brilliant. You barely notice you're reading, it's so smooth. It feels like when Neo gets a programme for martial arts downloaded into his brain and just KNOWS how it works. And as a result the story is totally unputdownable. Gripping is an understatement. I downloaded it and began reading it at about 4pm and finished at 11 at night, having taken the smallest and most rushed breaks possible to eat, shower etc., each one of which felt like waking up from a dream I couldn't wait to get back to. However! I can sense that some readers - ones not as enamoured of Ms Novik's writing as I am, or as into the MC's unique, spikey narratuon - might find some of the exposition a little heavy, especially to start with. Ms Novik plays that trick of dangling something incredibly juicy at you and then using the tempting tidbit to lead you through a few pages of necessary information. Personally I'm all for that; I love worldbuilding. But if you're not, I recommend that you just push through it. It is WORTH it, trust me.

Secondary characters are a real strength in this, sketched with humane deftness, humour, and compassion, from the tentative friends to the out-and-out villains. We understand them all, even if perhaps we might wish not to.

I do note, though, that Orion Lake, the unlikely best friend the heroine makes basically against her will - and the character who gets the most screen time next to El - is probably the one I felt I knew the least. I wonder if that's because he's so clearly there as the Harry Potter analogue: the heroic Chosen One who always charges in to save everyone without thinking twice about his own life, or the consequences, but really just wants to be treated as human. I felt as if we were already meant to know him. But the thing is, he WASN'T Harry. For one thing, he comes from a life of immense privilege, not one of poverty, abuse and neglect - and he completely takes that privilege for granted, ending up totally shocked and bamboozled everytime El is forced to bitterly point it out to him. And every now and again he would do something deeply NOT HARRY-ish and make me really keen to get to know him better. But I never really did? Hopefully future books take care of this. Actually, I can't wait!

Overall - as is absolutely no secret by now - I adored this, wish I could go back in time immediately and read it again for the first time, and would be willing to read another five to ten books of it - preferably right now? This is a solid gold 100% recommendation from The Zoë-Trope. A DEADLY EDUCATION is out at the end of September. Run out and pre-order or put it on hold/request at your library instantly, or a maw-mouth will get you!

(Language Geek Alert: maw-mouths are the worst monsters in this book. I laughed for five minutes straight when I saw the name, and I like to imagine Ms Novik cackled in a similarly unhinged fashion when the name occurred to her, too. You see, a maw-mouth is a creature that has a lot of mouths. Thousands. And the word 'maw' just means mouth. So their name basically means 'mouth-mouth'. But the word 'maw' is pronounced 'more'. So they're mouth-mouths and more-mouths at the same time - and that's literally what they are! GENIUS).
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MY THOUGHTS


❝A sorceress designed from the ground up for slaughter and destruction might just be able to take out the one monster no one else could kill.❞


A Deadly Education is essentially what would happen if Hogwarts had a Hellmouth. The concept is captivating, except it never feels like there's a clear plot and most of the book is spent explaining the intricate magic system. The magic system is a standout, it's so original and well-developed, but there's almost too much focus on it. By spending so much time on the magic system, the plot finds itself lacking and even though a lot of events occur, they're all equally unmemorable and there never seems to be a peak in tension. I found it easy to put the book down, which was disappointing as this was my most anticipated read of the year.

❝We're not all invulnerable heroes.❞


My biggest takeaway from the book is I'm overwhelmingly neutral — I have no strong feelings or attachments to anything that happened. It's slow and I kept waiting for things to pick up, only they never did. I applaud Novik for creating such a diverse cast of characters and I think it's a pity they are neglected in favour of chunky, info-dumping paragraphs that didn't develop the story whatsoever. In terms of the story itself, it isn't nearly as dark as I anticipated, but I hope that will change as the series progresses. For such a cutthroat school, it is a tame, safe first book. Maybe I set my expectations too high, maybe the trick is to enter with none and you'll enjoy it more than I did . . .

❝I‘d set them all on fire gladly for five minutes of peace, and why shouldn’t I, since they’d all stand by and watch me burn instead.❞



CHARACTERS


❝I was a burdened soul and would bring death and destruction to all the enclaves in the world if I wasn’t stopped.❞


Galadriel or 'El' is introduced as a little bit of an anti-hero — she is shrewd, snarky and survivalist by nature. As amusing as her sarcastic character voice is, I struggled to click with her. Sometimes, the sass and snark is overdone and her insistence on hating absolutely everything is infuriating. Furthermore, instead of fighting the prophecy against her, she seems to succumb to it, which is baffling considering how much fight she has in her otherwise. Her complexity is an asset, but despite all the layers that she clearly has, El came off confusing and contradictory in parts. However, her outlook on life is gripping as is her morally dubious nature. She is very self-assured, which is something I can respect. If anything, I'm eager to see her growth as the series continues because she is closed off, but the ending with her finding genuine friends gave me hope there's more to her than we see. I can also appreciate that even if I didn't always like her, I understood her and her reasoning.


❝You’ve been white-knighting as hard as you can for three full years. You’re not going to fix the consequences by white-knighting a little bit harder over the course of a single week.❞


Our hero typecast and love interest is Orion Lake — an annoying name for a character with a lot of potential. He has a Chosen One complex forced upon him by those around him and is rather self-sacrificing, so I can't wait for him to break away from the role he's been cast in. At least, that's what I hope will happen. I found him to be obnoxious and presumptuous a lot of the time when it came to El, but it's important to account for first person bias, I suppose. It is clear there's some internal struggle with him and he's presented as the perfect, cookie-cutter kind of boy that would irritate me if he was the protagonist, but Novik was extremely clever in making the stock main character a secondary character because El's perception of him isn't skewed and it shows how even the heroes aren't always what they're cracked up to be. He opposes El in every way and there's so much left to explore with him, even if most would assume he's a cut and dry hero. 



MY FAVOURITE MOMENT


❝Someone’s always got to pay, but why should Homicidal Todd get a leg up on anyone else?❞


Whenever El stands up to someone is really entertaining and empowering. It's El's character that drives this book and her outspoken nature makes for those most impactful scenes — such as when she calls out Todd and Chloe about how they treat Orion. Scholomance is dark and twisty with a lot of messed up rules, so El challenging the status quo and not being afraid to stand out in a school where friendships and alliances are the difference between life and death is fun to read about. The insight into El's mind and the nefarious protocols of the academy are beyond fascinating.

 ❝I want to have a daughter one day, a daughter who will live, who won’t ever have to scream alone in the night when monsters come for her.❞


Another part I enjoyed was El's vulnerable moments, something I wish we had more of, in fact. Although only mentioned in passing, El's desire to have kids and for them to be a little better than her is touching and evoked a surprising (if only) bout of emotion in me when reading. It's seeing the cracks in the character's hard shell that makes up for the sometimes lethargic pacing of events.



MY LEAST FAVOURITE MOMENT


Whilst I tend to be a romantic, the romance is rushed and forced in this book. It seems to come out of nowhere and that's why my least favourite moment is Orion's and El's first kiss. There's no chemistry between them and Orion's interest in El seems superficial. I also didn't like her reaction — she breaks the fourth wall and addresses the reader, which feels awkward and is an unnecessary break in the narrative. On the surface, the two seem like they could be an interesting romance, but not enough time is spent on developing them — Orion assumed they were dating the whole time? That screams communication issues! 



FINAL VERDICT


Do I recommend A Deadly Education? Well, I don't think I'd recommend it, but I wouldn't deter anyone from reading this either. It is clear Novik put a lot of thought into the book and the world of Scholomance, but the execution is lacklustre, prioritising long, boring paragraphs of information and action sequences with no tension most of all. In fact, I'd argue this would make the perfect TV show, alas the story doesn't jump out enough on page and I slugged through most of the chapters. A part of me feels like this book is one longwinded exposition that establishes Novik's magical world and nothing more. Since the ending is a partial cliffhanger, I'm open to reading the second book, albeit a little hesitant given how slow everything moved in this book.


Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone and NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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'I decided that Orion needed to die after the second time he saved my life.'

Right from the start Novik turns the tension to full blast. 
Galadriel has never been safe. None of the wizards at the Scholomance are. This school built into the void outside of 'mundane' (non magic folk) existence has been overrun by mals (monsters) for hundreds of years. 
It's never safe to be outside your room alone, but it's even less so to be inside your room with anyone else after curfew. 
As someone raised in a country where schools are the safest place, turning this on its head made the concept all the more unnerving.

The magical world Novik has created is a perilous one, even your breakfast might kill you! There are rules to follow, subjects and career paths to choose, alliances to be forged and a price to pay for every magical action you take.
There are no adults, no teachers, not even outside communication, only the students- each hell bent on surviving graduation, the final deadly test.

The story is told from the first person POV of our MC Galadriel, an underdog shunned by the entire Scholomance. 
'El' doesn't want or need any help, least of all from the schools self appointed knight in shining armour- Orion

A Deadly Education is the perfect balance of immersive world building, unique plot and carefully crafted character development centred on magic, monsters and murder.

Remember when you first read about Hogwarts? The originality, the wonder, the magic.. 
A Deadly Education gave me back all those feelings in a darker, more mature novel. This book is a definite for any fantasy fan. I might even say it's top of the genre for me right now.

Reader beware, after an ending like THAT waiting for the next release is going to be physically painful!
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3.5 stars but rounding it up as I did enjoy it. 
It’s a brilliantly different take on teen fantasy schooling and actually uncomfortably unsettling. Protagonist El is credibly angry and unpleasant, with small painful bursts of explanation, but the rest of the characters are glibly 2d.  And the story barrels along nicely, and unpredictably, but it is all a bit one note. It would have been better to have some layers and sub plots.  Hopefully the rest of the series will have more nuance and surprises
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This book was not at all what I expected, but I enjoyed it nonetheless! There were definitely times when I felt like the story would suddenly go on really long and somewhat unnecessary tangents in the middle of an important scene, but overall, the lighthearted tone and El's voice was so much fun to read. The world Novik created was so interesting to learn about, but I also found it to be pretty confusing.
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This book was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it did not disappoint. I immediately dropped everything and picked up A Deadly Education as soon as I was approved for it on Netgalley. I literally devoured this chunky book within 24 hours. I could not put it down. 

I did find that the plot and magical system could be complex at times, more so the history behind the school and everything within it. I think that is something I will appreciate more once I have a physical copy to reread and discover bits that I may have missed. That physical copy that I have already preordered! 

I literally love the fact that we are set in a school. , a school with deadly creatures at every corner. It really does make for a good atmospheric read and you can be guaranteed to be on the edge of your seat throughout. 

I absolutely loved the characters in this book El especially. What a wonderful main character she is. Whilst I didn’t like him at first, Orion is also a wonderful character, one which I am sure will grow on you! What I also loved is that the school is run without teachers or authority. Do what you’re meant to, whilst fighting away monsters who are persistent with wanting to kill you. It’s simple. 

There was just the right amount of everything in this book it was fantastic. I can’t wait for it to be released in the wild so I can rave about it with everyone else!
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If you like prickly 'I'm a bad guy (but not really)' kind of protagonists chances are you will like A Deadly Education. Maybe I approached this novel with the wrong expectations. The premise made it seem as a fantasy meets dark academia sort of thing but in actuality what we get is closer to The Hunger Game by way of Rick Riordan.
A Deadly Education is very silly. Which could have worked if it hadn't been for the writing. El's narration is bogged down by exposition and more than once the action is interrupted by info-dumping. For example El will be about to fight some creature or she's having a conversation with something, and then we get pages and pages of El explaining things to us. I understand that the author wanted to give a context to certain scenes but I've personally never been keen on narratives that are a heavy on the 'telling' and light on the showing. It didn't help that I found El to be a less entertaining version of Meda from Cracked.
The world building left a lot to be desired and I wasn't keen on the 'magic' system. I just was unconvinced by the whole school-thing (even if El 'explains' why the school exists and why it is the way it is).
The joke-y tone also didn't quite work for me, it was a tad too juvenile. The setting lacked atmosphere, which is saying something since the school did have the potential of being a perfectly creepy location.
Anyway, I'm sure that there are readers who will be able to enjoy much more than I did.
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I LOVED this book. Whole-heartedly and completely, every minute of it. I can't even begin to describe my excitement when I first started reading this novel. I'd previously read and loved Novik's other books, Uprooted and Spinning Silver but, honestly, nothing prepared me for the blast I was going to have reading this book. I think this is my new favourite book of hers and, sure enough, she has now become one of my staple authors.

The book follows El, a junior just trying to survive her two remaining years at a school determined to kill its pupils. El has always been an outcast, but an incident with a magical monster and an unbidden, persistent hero thrusts her into the spotlight and soon she's having to navigate the just-as-deadly social sphere. But something else is afoot...     

I flew through this book over the course of one night and the next morning. I didn't want to put it down. I was gripped. Hook, line and sinker. I think it was just the kind of novel I was waiting for. Dark, with a complex world, solid characters, a touch of angst, a host of different character relationships... It even had a splash of good humour to add to the mix! Half the time I feel like humour just doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the storyline but, for this one, it just added a little something extra to love. I was smiling and humming away at some of the scenes and character interactions, they were just so well-done and funny.

The characters honestly made this book for me. I fell in love with them. El was exactly the kind of heroine I like - snarky and strong but has her moments of doubt and uncertainty. I really felt for her and was invested pretty quickly in her story from the beginning. I love when authors present us with flawed characters, it makes them so much more interesting and multi-dimensional. Orion was also a great character and his brusqueness and interactions with El were most of the reason I couldn't stop smiling throughout this book. I even grew to love some of the side characters and am so excited to see their development in future books, as well as watch all the different character relationships develop.

I also loved the plot and setting Novik created in this book. Of course I would be drawn in by the idea of a darker Harry Potter-esque boarding school setting. The whole school-out-to-get-you vibe was executed so well and I was completely enthralled by the magic system and how it worked. I didn't find it read too similar to Harry Potter or anything at all, to me it was completely its own story. The book provided us with a lot of backstory at times but, in all honesty, I actually really enjoyed the context because I was so invested. It also made it easier for me to fall into the world quicker. So it didn't really affect the pacing for me at all. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Overall, I really loved this book. It has solidified Novik's position in my list of favourite authors. I flew through it. I think it is honestly one of the best books I've read so far this year and I am so excited to begin my journey with this new series. I loved the world, the concept and the characters and their relationships so much - it was just exactly my kind of story and exactly what I was looking for. The only thing now is I'm going to have to wait a while for book two!
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A deadly education is set in a magic school where you either graduate or you die. We follow El who is the year before graduation year as she navigates her time at school. El has enough power to protect herself against the monsters but this power also seems to put other people off being close to her. El is therefore working hard to figure out how she can create some allies if not friends.  

There is a lot to like in this book. The idea of the monsters attacking young people with magic and a school setting which no longer protects them the way is should. The development of El with other chararcters (I will not say any more as I do not want to enter spoiler territory), the diversity - the school accepts people from all over the world which leads to a diverse group of characters. 

However although I enjoyed this book it wan't a new favourite. I sometimes felt a little overwhelmed by the terms used within the book in relation to the magic system. Also at times it felt as if I was being told so much that I was slightly removed from the story itself.

Having said all that I am excited for more books in the already established world (I am guessing there will be more books). That last line has got me asking questions!
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Thank you so much NetGalley for giving me these e-ARC. First of all, I love Naomi Novik's UPROOTED so much and when I heard she's going to release A Deadly Education, I know right away I pre-ordered the book immediately. I got the chance to read the book earlier which I was very excited!! 

A Deadly Education is a dark magical story about our lead character, El, short for Galadriel (As in Galadriel in LOTR!) and her journey in this magical school for wizards called The Scholomance. The Scholomance is not that type of school of wizards (not like Hogwarts), you can find monsters here lurking in the dark and ready to eat you, you will never be safe in this school if you're going to class / library / cafetaria ALONE. If you do go alone, trust me, be ready to find monsters (in here it's called as Mal). What I really love about this book is the world-building in here, I love how Naomi crafted the world and the magical system in here is captivating! The fact that you have to take out 'a life force' or in here called as 'mana' to do some magic is very interesting. I love El so much, she's independent, she had to learn to be independent because of her differences (her dark magic power) , her character is quite relatable to me and i adore her so much. 

I give this book a 4-star rating! I almost gave it a 5 stars, however, I find the plot was a bit boring at first maybe because the author wants to tell us about this new world of 'the scholomance and its magic system' but i feel like this book is lacking in action scenes, i wish there was more actions between the students & the mals, it felt a bit draggy at first but overall I still enjoy the book. I'm really looking forward for the second book though, i hope it'll get better!
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I loved Uprooted and Spinning Silver, and expected something similar here, something fairytale-esque, but what I got was something completely different. It’s a weird world of a magic school without teachers, where it’s accepted that not all of your class will survive to graduate. A school the moves and changes and that is infested by creatures eager to harvest the lives of the student’s within.

It took me longer than I usually like to get into, as the world Novik has created is so bizarre and wonderful it took me a while to wrap my head around. Once I did however, I was drawn in. Everything worked so well together, and I think Novik proved again, at least to me she’s a talented writer.

If you struggled to begin with like I did, definitely push through. I found the payoff so rewarding, and I can firmly say this book is my favourite of the year so far.
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This was an interesting read because I really liked it, the characters were fun and well written, but the prose was quite long and could sometimes get confusing. I would definitely recommend it though. I know I'll be rereading it when the finished proof comes out.
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I stayed up until 5am reading this in one glorious burst, and I feel dead today but it was so worth it. If there's anyone in the world I stan, it's Naomi Novik (she MADE ARCHIVE OF OUR OWN!! she writes stories which INFECT MY BRAIN! her plot mechanisms are feats of engineering!) so I was incredibly excited for this. 
This is a take on the 'magical school' trope, which examines the idea that magic is a free, unlimited resource for students who are good enough at casting. Instead, you have to put real effort into collecting enough energy to cast spells (knitting or doing sit-ups are popular choices). Otherwise, you have to take life force from other living things to cast spells. It's something I examined in my next book The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker, where I wanted to examine the source of ghosts' energy - they have to fight amongst themselves to get the most power, or disintegrate. So this hit me in my sweet spot, in a topic I've thought a lot about recently. 
It's the most brutal, wonderfully cutthroat world of death and horror, within the closed environment of a metal school under siege by creatures desperate to consume the students' magic. 
The characters are great too: a girl who is destined to be evil, and a boy who is destined to be a hero. Both of them aren't entirely happy with accepting their fates, and rebel against it in different ways. El's mum was also brilliant - I love how the truth about her crept in slowly, starting with little references and growing into something really impressive. 
The beginning of the novel is a little exposition heavy, but that's only because once it gets going, it literally does not pause for breath until the final page. Novik is a master at setting up a plot to unfurl in a series of staggeringly well-thought out bursts of action, weaving together into an imaginative climax. This is no exception, and I am so, so excited for the sequel. I want more of vicious El and her lovely, besotted Orion.
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