I was so excited to read A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik.
A Deadly Education is the first book in the Scholomance series. It was supposed to be everything I love – magic, magical school, a bit of romance. And it left me so disappointed and just empty within. I have no words of how sad I am to be writing this review. I am crushed, but I have to be honest to myself and to the people reading my reviews.
A Deadly Education is indeed a story about a deadly magical school. This school, Scholomance, is a school for students that are magically gifted. There are no teachers and students are left alone to master skills and attend lessons. They are also forbidden to walk the halls at night, because deadly monsters are lurking from every corner. And the ultimate graduation test is a deadly game of survival by fighting these monsters.
The students’ magic works based on either mana (the good magic) or malia (the bad magic).
El is our main character in this book, who can use malia to defeat all the monsters, but that would involve killing the other students. Survival also means working on strategies and making allies with other people.
And then we also have Orion Lake. He has many friends and admirers and he keeps saving El’s life. And she’s not impressed and hates him.
I feel like A Deadly Education was a great idea about a magical school that has a “Hunger Games” type of graduation, but somewhere in the middle the plot got lost and we got a weak story.
First of all, I hated El. I don’t usually hate characters, but God, I really despised her. Not only was she incredibly rude all the time, but she was very entitled, self-centered and very selfish. I hated the fact that she always thought the world revolved about her. Furthermore, she kept pushing people away, especially her so-called friends and Orion.
Then we have Orion Lake, who is portrayed as the hero, saving so many lives. Which he is. But he also is this person that can’t speak for himself, and seems like he does whatever other people tell him to do.
And the romance between them was very non-existent. There wasn’t any form of attraction that I felt, only El’s rudeness. I don’t know how it escalated in the end to a romance, because I didn’t see it. El was even then being rude to him.
This is such a hard review to write, as I know this book is widely popular. But for me, it didn’t hit the mark in any way. I wish there was more to it than just the deadly monsters and strategies for a graduation that was so talked about. And I wish the romance was real. But I’m still keen to read the second book, just to find out whether it will redeem itself, at least a bit. If you’re looking for a magical school, I’d suggest Hogwarts.
This ain’t it.