Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Review: A DEADLY EDUCATION by Naomi Novik


Rating: 2/5 stars

I have an interesting relationship with Naomi Novik’s books. This is the third novel I’ve read by her, and all three during this year no less. I did not like Uprooted and I thought Spinning Silver was okay but nothing special. While those two books were more like fairy tales, A Deadly Education seemed to have a totally different feel, so I expected to like it better. I didn’t, though. 

Even though this is an adult book, it feels very much like it’s for young adults because of the high school setting and the sixteen-year-old protagonist who acts as young as she is and because of all of the petty school drama that’s going on between Galadriel and the popular girls. The bulk of this novel is about the relationships between all the characters and the drama that ensues between them, which is not what I expected this story to be about. I really actually can’t tell you what the plot of the story is here because I kind of felt like it had no point?? 

I enjoyed the dark academia setting, and I want to read more books in the future with a similar atmosphere like this one, although I did expect this book to be way darker than it was, and I wish we got to see more of the worldbuilding. I guess with how short the book was, the worldbuilding was what got skimped on, but that was truly the best part. I liked learning about the school setting and the magic spells and the monsters and how the students trained and protected themselves. I did expect these aspects to be more prevalent in the story though, which I think was the biggest problem I had with this book: it severely did not meet my expectations. 

Almost the entire story is Galadriel telling us in narrative format about what’s going on and what the school is like and how it looks, and it all felt like very passive storytelling. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it didn’t draw me into the story as much as I hoped to be; I felt very distanced from the characters and the story. I still enjoyed watching the relationship transpire between Galadriel and Orion, but even that wasn’t enough to make me love this story. 

I wish we got more information about Galadriel’s past and about life outside of the Scholomance. I also wanted more of the story to be about the classes and what they were learning and how they were using the magic. There was a lot of information that I feel like we needed but didn’t get. Like who controls the school? Who cleans it and maintains it? Who catalogues and shelves books? Galadriel talks about rules but who enforces the rules when there are no teachers? There was so much information left out that only would have benefitted the novel. 

I liked parts of A Deadly Education but I also didn’t like parts of it. There’s something about Naomi’s writing that just doesn’t click with me though, but I can’t exactly say what. I have gone into all three of her books so far excited because they all have sounded amazing, yet each one was a disappointing letdown that did not deliver what it promised to deliver. 

My overall opinion is that I feel very underwhelmed with A Deadly Education. I thought it would finally be the book to win me over to Naomi Novik’s stories, but alas, it was not. I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue on with this series or not, but the last sentence single-handedly changed my mind: now I need the next book to know why that thing was said. I probably won’t like The Last Graduate very much either, but I’ll still give it a chance if I’m still interested when it comes out. However, I likely won’t be reading any future series of Novik’s because all of her books leave me wanting so much more—not in a good way—and A Deadly Education was no exception. 

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