I sang Naomi Novik’s praises in A Deadly Education, and so when The Last Graduate showed up on my doorstep, I threw out my entire TBR to jump into it as soon as possible. I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest, though I think it’s possible that waiting for the third book might kill me. The Last Graduate picks up exactly where A Deadly Education left off, with barely seconds passing, so I highly recommend rereading as the back-to-back experience is excellent.
Rating: 5 stars!
Thanks to Del Rey for the review copy of this book. It has not affected my honest review.
Content Warnings: gore, violence, one mild sex scene.
About the book:
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 . . .
What did I think?
I think, much like in the first book, the narrative voice will either be a big draw or a big negative for readers. I still loved the stream of consciousness style writing, feeling like El was chattering away to me with each passing chapter. I can’t wait to get my hands on the audiobook for this book so I can experience it the way I feel like it should be experienced. The way that this series is written does focus entirely on El in an introspective way, and I would love to see what some of the other characters are thinking during this book especially. An Orion POV would have been amazing, because he’s definitely going through some kind of thing in this book, and I would just love to see what’s going on with him (and if my suspicions are correct), but I’m hoping that all will be revealed in the third book and this secretiveness will suddenly make sense.
And to be fair, El is the star of this book. Her development in The Last Graduate versus in A Deadly Education is incredible. We still have the things that made her so loveable, the snark and spiky defensiveness as well as her uncertainty around other people in the school, but we get to see her growing into more than that too. As her power grows (and oh my god, does her power grow) her circle grows too. We’ve gone from this individual and insular character to someone who has been dragged out of her comfort zone to find allies and shock maybe even friends. And her relationship with Orion. Oh my god. I hate how much I love their trope-y arses. Orion is conspicuously absent for a while, but when he comes back it’s straight back into their strange and complicated dynamic. I love them so much, honestly.
The first half of this book was a lot slower than I expected after the cliffhanger of the first book. And if you’re expecting THAT little doozy to get answered? Well. I have a lot more questions now than I did when I started. And the cliffhanger at the end of The Last Graduate is even worse! I actually can’t believe that I’m back to waiting for the next Scholomance book already. I had expectations for The Last Graduate, and all of them were wrong. I’m glad they were, though, I like the book we got much more than the book I was expecting. In this one, the Scholomance itself is a character in its own right, and I really liked the way we saw it behaving. I can’t be more specific without spoiling it, but the way this book turns out is amazing. I can’t wait to see what surprises are in store in the third book.
Release Date: 28th September 2021