Alright. It’s been forever, but here is my first review for the week. I am only giving you 3 reviews, one for each week I missed, and from this point on it will be one review a week!
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
Synopsis From The Book
I decided that Orion Lake needed to die after the second time he saved my life.
Everyone loves Orion Lake. Everyone else, that is. Far as I’m concerned, he can keep his flashy combat magic to himself. I’m not joining his pack of adoring fans.
I don’t need help surviving the Scholomance, even if they do. Forget the hordes of monsters and cursed artifacts, I’m probably the most dangerous thing in the place. Just give me a chance and I’ll level mountains and kill untold millions, make myself the dark queen of the world.
At least, that’s what the world expects. Most of the other students in here would be delighted if Orion killed me like one more evil thing that’s crawled out of the drains. Sometimes I think they want me to turn into the evil witch they assume I am. The school certainly does.
But the Scholomance isn’t getting what it wants from me. And neither is Orion Lake. I may not be anyone’s idea of the shining hero, but I’m going to make it out of this place alive, and I’m not going to slaughter thousands to do it, either.
Although I’m giving serious consideration to just one.
Fantasy | YA – A |Death, Attempted Murder, Neglect | Self Control, Friendship, Survival, Love
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
Alright, I have 10 hours to get this book done for book club and I am… uh… Well I haven’t started. I have just been here kinda dying a bit because I had to read it. My reading hiatus is really killing me. I think it might be because of the necessity of making reviews? IDK. If that is the case then the best way to get myself out of it is to read books I have no intention of reviewing.
In other news I know 0 about this book despite having been so hype for it at one point. I know its magic school and magic school is the best. Anyway! Lets get into this. I don’t have much time.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
I actually had a lot of fun diving into this magic system and for once I don’t really want to know more about the system but about specific magic instead and how it will develop. I guess I was satisfied. The senior year is going to be a treat, I know it already. Or at least I hope it is. Not sure. Either way, I had a lot of fun, and am excited for the next boo in the series.
Galadriel, El for short, is a Junior at the Scholomance a protective school for magical children. Between the ages of 13 and 18, the children have the highest chance of being eaten by monsters called Mals. They are sent to the school, from all over the world, in order to learn magic and protect themselves. However there are no teachers, the school provides them with what they need, and they have to learn on their own. El is a language incarnation student. Like all students, El has a specification for magic. In her case it is the evil form of magic (using malia instead of mana. Malia is from people and life, mana is from a person’s own formation.) and she has been trained her entire life by her mother to avoid it. El is an outcast and at the start of the book has been protected by Orion Lake, the white knight of the school who single handedly dropped the mortality rate from 1 in 20 survival to 1 in four. He has a gift for killing Mal.
Orion saves El twice in quick succession and after asking her about a girl who died (which she knew the answer to but didn’t want the hell that came with the answer) and El lied, Orion started to stick with her. El took the opportunity to say that they were dating, which the whole school bought up easily as Orion continued to follow her around. The girl’s killer, Jack, came to attack El and Orion killed him, saving her. The two of them staid in her room all night (which was extremely dangerous, for two students to be in one place) spinning the rumors further. Through class work (where Orion helped her make a mirror), studying in the library, and maintenance work, the two became closer. One day while in the library, Orion hears screams and goes running to stop many of the Mal, but El is held back. She realizes that the library is keeping her from something which happens to be a mouth-maw (one of the most dangerous mals to exist). It means the school thinks she has a chance against it, and using all the stores of her mana, she destroys it.
In the magic backlash, Orion cares for her and she casts a powerful healing spell that heals not only her but a girl named Liu who was turning into an evil magic user. Through others kissing up to her, to try to get to know Orion, she meets her real friends. Orion is asked to sit at the New York Enclave’s table (enclaves are groups of wizards who protect their own) and El does not follow, which establishes who her real friends are and not. Orion does get angry with her, for doing it, because he thought she’d go with him.
Orion and El become friends through their constant bickering. They treat each other as people and are, in many ways, their first real friends. El tells Orion that his saving of lives has created a balance scale in the school that is unordinary. He tries to make up for it by killing more, when he stays up for 55 hours straight trying to patch up a hole that was made from the graduation hall into the main building. The graduation hall is infested with Mal. Each year at the end of the year, the seniors have to rush through the hall to graduate. Many do not survive, and his saving of lives had made their chances even smaller. El, Orion, and their friends patch up the hall, but it does have a cost. El offers up to go with Orion to right the scales, and fix the maintenance machine in the hall that does a cleanse on the room (that has been broken since the 1880s). The last week before graduation, El, Orion, their friends, the seniors, and the whole school, do their part to help. Either by providing the equipment, the tools, planning, preparing, or getting them the mana.
The day of graduation, El and Orion go into the graduation hall with the specialized maintenance team. A few people die, but they succeed thanks to Orion and his skill at killing Mal. Graduation begins, and Orion and El are too late to escape the cleansing flames. Orion kisses El and she knees him so that she can cast a spell to protect them both. They survive the change, and then he kills a few more mall that were protected by her spell, and books it when the other students (the new seniors and her class) show up. El talks to her friends first, before speaking with Orion. She realized he actually treated them as if they were dating, and she tells him that if he wants to ask her out he has to then. He will not and wants to after they get out, she says no. No promises, but he can ask her then and she’ll decide then. No distractions.
Orion gives her a new shirt, and they go to dinner, where the new freshmen arrive. There is a letter for El from her mother that is telling her to stay away from Orion.
What I Liked:
Orion; I love him. This white-knight, hero-complex of a boy made me go awe. He was my favorite. Man he has a calling and everyone always let him go to it, but it really did hurt him. I want to know so much more about his family and mother and why he has his calling. I want to know so much more about his magic because he seems to be the only person who siphons off of the mal. That can’t be good. It’s probably why her mother told her to stay away. I would not be surprised if the second book was about him, more so. I hope it is. I need more.
El; My girl! I love her. I need to know so much more about her magic. Is it actually evil, or is it that she will spread death to the mal? She is built for powerful magic, and the things she could do with that magic are limitless, should she only do it to save others. Her mother is strange to me, but I do like her. I cry about her father and how her father’s family tried to hurt her when she was a child. I know she had to grow up tough, but I hope that by having real friends she is able to get comfort and more love.
Orion and El; I’m here for their romance. I ship it. I know that they are pretty dang terrible, but together they are pretty good to each other and treat each other like people. I also know that they trust each other without question, which is important when mal are always drawn to El and Orion always has to kill them. I want to see how this progresses. The fact that Orion thought they were dating the whole time, made me laugh. HA. I love them.
Liu; This poor girl was forced to use malia to protect her family. I want to know so much more about her and her talents and skills. I hope that she survives her last year. I hope so much.
Aadhya; She was great. I love artificers to begin with and she was the first friend for El after Orion. I love how she kept things real, made real plans, and was a voice of reason. I can understand how she was popular before, she’s amazing. I hope she survives so much. She has so much to offer the world, I can already see it.
Enclaves; I liked the way this family system was set up. Those in one had better lives than those without. They had more magic and better protection. It was horrible, but reasonable considering the circumstances (in the sense that it makes sense why they exist). I’m interested to see if El will make her own. She has the book to make her own enclave home. She has herself and (lets face it) Orion (probably). I would not be surprised if it were for those who were not accepted into other enclaves. I think there is a set up for it coming, not sure tho.
Magic system; Magic that actively tries to hurt you? Spell books that appear out of nowhere. Things you have affinity for versus others? I love it all. The magic system in this book makes so much sense to El, and it is a hard magic system in the world, despite it being more soft when reading it. I really liked how magical it all felt and how dangerous it was all at the same time. Knowing how mana and malia worked early on was great to see how it played out.
Scholomance; This school is insane. Whoever thought it was a good idea was wrong. Its a death school, however it is how most wizards get their education and I’m not sure I hate it. Insane as it is, it makes reasonable amounts of sense for why it came to be. At the same time I love it and how it functions to teach. Crazy as it is, I find it entertaining — although I’d hate to study that way.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
I don’t know how I feel about the direct addressing of the reader yet. I didn’t hate it but it did through me off a few times.