Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
Series: The Scholomance #1
Trigger Warning - Death, Child Endangerment, Violence
Would having magical abilities be worth going to a school that actively tries to kill you? What about if you had a magical talent or an affinity for dark magic? Well Galadriel, known as El, thought her chances of survival were pretty good. And so far, she was right. Within this school called the Scholomance, students fight, join alliances, and do whatever it takes to make it out of the school and return to their families. This fantastical world is full of unique monsters and magical spells that can only be thought up by the mind of Naomi Novik.
Page after page there's another challenge to overcome and something else to learn about the Scholomance. Except, survival isn't El's only concern. Long ago she was fated to become an evil sorceress and is well aware of that fact. Unfortunately for fate, that's old news. Now, El just has to focus on making an alliance among her peers or else she'll never make it through graduation alive.
There is so much more you'll want from this world even after you've finished this book. Does El survive? Does she end up destroying the world? And what else does the Scholomance have in store for us?
In-Depth Review (contains spoilers)
Not liking the main character can cause a lot of issues while reading a story. This became my main struggle. I do not enjoy reading about a character thinking. The way I experienced the story was through all of El's thoughts. She didn't actually do anything in my mind and instead just explained everything. This pulled me out of the story to such a degree that I can honestly say I had a hard time enjoying it. Aside from my feelings about El, I loved the world. Having a school that constantly tries to kill off students is such a fascinating concept. I truly love the intricacies that this can harbor. I also enjoy El's affinity of what can only be described as mass destruction. I wanted to see her just wipe out a full section of the school more than anything but unfortunately I am left wanting.
I had a lot of issues with the interaction with Jack. El described him at such a level of creepy that I did not understand. And then, from my reading, he was just suddenly dead after attacking her. I had such a difficult time following those events that I had to take a break for a while out of confusion. Throughout the rest of the book there were a few other confrontations that caused some misunderstanding. Though they weren't quite as severe, I still had a lot of trouble getting past those scenes as well.
I do understand that this is the first book in what is supposed to be a series, but the beginning had way too much unnecessary information. There was so much information and not any action that it felt like it was all just build up. Even with all the information that's given, I never got a clear picture of anyone. It wasn't until the final quarter of the book that we find out that everyone has the same haircut except for a single girl. That is such an interesting detail that fell flat because it should've been used earlier on and wasn't.
Another issue I had with El, was how standoffish she was. It never made any sense to me. She was clearly one of the most powerful (possibly the most powerful) student and she did not use that to help her survive. If the other students knew of her affinity they would have latched onto her immediately. She wouldn't have to worry about being left out of an alliance and instead would have breezed through all her school years. Even sharing the Maw Mouth information would have brought her into an alliance immediately and yet she refused to share it. If she was an introverted character, I would have understood her attempt to separate herself from others. And yet, she never came off as introverted; just severely unlikable.
Orion was the only character that propelled me through the story. The fact that he was so incredibly powerful and that was just while wearing blockers was impressive. There is still so much mystery surrounding him and the enclave that he hails from. Since the ending revolved around him specifically I will probably find myself reading the next book to discover more about him. I just want that cinnamon roll of a boy to be okay in the end. He deserves so much more than El.
All in all, I would suggest this to those who wouldn't mind El's personality because the world in itself is incredible. I want to know more about the Scholomance and the world that purposefully sends their children to their potential deaths.
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