A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education

Book - 2020
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"In the start of an all-new series, the author of Uprooted and Spinning Silver introduces you to a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death--until one girl begins to unlock its many secrets. Enter a school of magic unlike any you have ever encountered: There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won't allow its students to leave until they graduate... or die. The rules are deceptively simple: Don't walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere. El is uniquely prepared for the school's dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out untold millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students. So El is trying her hardest not to use her power... at least not until she has no other option. Meanwhile, her fellow student, the insufferable Orion Lake, is making heroism look like a breeze. He's saved hundreds of lives--including El's--with his flashy combat magic. But in the spring of their junior year, after Orion rescues El for the second time and makes her look like more of an outcast than she already is, she reaches an impulsive conclusion: Orion Lake must die. But El is about to learn some lessons she never could in the classroom: About the school. About Orion Lake. And about who she really is. Wry, witty, endlessly inventive, and mordantly funny--yet with a true depth at its heart--this enchanting novel reminds us that there are far more important things than mere survival."--
Publisher: New York :, Del Rey,, [2020]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780593128480
Branch Call Number: FICTION NOV
Characteristics: 320 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Alternative Title: Staff pick


From Library Staff

A new fantasy series by best-selling author Naomi Novik, featuring a young sorceress fighting against her evil nature and a magical boarding school that wants to kill its students. This book has a richly detailed fantasy setting, compelling and complex characters, and lots of action and adventure... Read More »

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JCLChrisK Apr 29, 2021

Deadly fun. A protagonist full of dark, massively destructive power doing her best to never be evil. An inescapable school full of dark, murderous creatures preying on the students. A wonderful, inventive fantasy world and system of magic. Witty, wry narration. I devoured it.

I've never wanted to escape a book so badly, yet be fully engrossed at the same time; the thought of those monsters and having to be constantly on guard physically affected me, but I was admiring Naomi Novik's skill at nailing that tense atmosphere all the way through.

Mar 13, 2021

After reading "Uprooted" and "Spinning Silver" I was looking forward to reading another Novik book because I enjoyed her clean story telling style. However, this book is nothing like those two. The beginning contains many streams of consciousness of teenage angst to the point that I was wondering if this book was meant to target a younger audience. The book contains a lot of over-explaining and repeating of the main character's world view, how she was feeling, and why. I think this book could have done with more editing. Like maybe if they shorten this story down to be the beginning of the next book and sold the two books as one (I have not read the next book as it is not out yet). That said, the feelings and concerns of the main character are relatable to all ages as who has not felt frustrated with a world that sometimes seems to have more mean, judgemental, selfish people than caring, open-minded, sportive people. The story itself is good with a clear magic system and an interesting teacher-free school environment. The characters are believable and the main characters evolved and learned with their experiences so that was cool.

Feb 10, 2021

Well worth it, if you can stand getting dumped into the middle of the world and figuring it out as the plot develops. Heroine/Dark One is so engaging! School that kills off students...The elites who use everyone not as privileged as cannon fodder without a thought...not so hidden social commentary mixed with coming of age and fantasy adventure...good stuff!

VaughanPLRachelP Jan 21, 2021

As you may have guessed from the title, A Deadly Education is another entry into the 'magic school' genre, but with a few twists I very much appreciated. Scholomance is, quite literally, a magic school. By which I mean the school itself is actively magic. There are no teachers at Scholomance, the school is responsible for teaching students. Oh, and it is absolutely infested with monsters (called 'mals' in this book). As such, half of the students education is learning how to survive. It's a very strong incentive. The main character, El (short for Galadriel), is the subject of a prophecy that dooms her to becoming one of the most dark and destructive witches of all time, leaving her fellow students to avoid her at all costs. But Scholomance isn't a school you can survive without allies, as El quickly learns. El is smart and snarky and while being a good person doesn't come natural to her, she mostly tries her best. This book is guilty of a bit too much exposition - pages and pages of info dumps about the school and the wider society as a whole. And while it's told in El's charming, sarcastic voice, these passages can still go on a bit too long. But the story sets itself up well for future installments, ending on a cliffhanger that is compelling but not frustrating.

Hillsboro_RobP Jan 14, 2021

At once an assault on the tropes of the "Deadly School" genre and one of the best-ever entries under that idea. Novik comes at the reader fast with believable characters, a solid groundwork of practical magic, a smart heroine, and page-turning danger in (literally) every shadow. Get on the wait list for the next one early!

Jan 14, 2021

This series is my new obsession. El is very relatable as an outsider. Can’t wait for June when The Last Graduate comes out next in the series.

LoganLib_Sheridan Jan 11, 2021

I loved this book! I think it was a lot younger and tropish than here usual writing but there was still a lot of dangerous and deadly magic as you would expect from a Naomi Novik novel.

So my favourite part might have been the relationship between El and Orian. El is pragmatic and you could call her a realist but pessimist works. Orian is a happy go-lucky enclave kid who is set apart from his peers. He is the brave hero constantly jumping into danger. Do you see where this is going because I did and it was beautiful.

El thought her biggest worry would be surviving school and not fulfilling a dark prophecy about her powers but honestly now shes more worried about Orian doing something stupid in the name of saving everyone else and getting herself killed... and surviving school.

The dark world of magic has a very gothic feel as they look out for monsters at every turn... literally. The alliances formed were interesting to watch as they learned to rely on each other in a world where betrayal could kill you.

The use of languages was amazing as they used different languages for different spells and there were students from all over. However I have heard issues with the use of language from BIPOC that white people may not think of. There was also no mention of racism which is impossible to escape as it would infiltrate from the mundane world.

I loved this book and am impatiently waiting for the next one!

Jan 08, 2021

Mals are scary and I think this book will become the next big fantasy book of our times. School kids dealing with realistic problems associated with magic and the balance of the universe.

PimaLib_ChristineR Jan 07, 2021

Novik has written another intriguing fantasy in A Deadly Education with a creative setting and interesting characters. El (Galadriel) is a dark magician who has earned a spot in the Scholomance. Before you go worrying that this is another Harry Potter knockoff, know that the Scholomance is a character in itself. The school, once entered is inescapable until graduation, and then only for a select few. In the intervening years the school actively tries to kill the students.

El is one of the strongest magicians there but because her magic is darkly aligned, and she's a complete jerk, she is on her own. Magicians on their own never get out of the school because they have only their own magic, which they painstakingly gather, to use; and they have no one to watch their back, making showering and sometimes eating, nearly impossible. El forms an unlikely alliance with Orion Lake, a magician from one of the large groups to which all magicians aspire, meaning he has a nearly unlimited supply on which to draw and is able to live a nearly normal life, when he's not throwing himself into danger.

Novik plays off the relationship between the two to explore the idea of privilege and power, while still writing a straight ahead magical adventure that kept me enthralled. So, it's somewhat ironic that the book has come under attack for some thoughtless content coming from a place of white privilege. Let's get into these (and keep in mind I'm coming from the same place so take my thoughts with a grain of salt).

Novik has already apologized publicly for creating a sort of monster that lives in hair, but which is specifically associated with dreadlocks--pretty thoughtless blunder. One for which she has not been called out is that, like all of her books I have read so far, there is not a single non-hetero, non-cisgender person. In her earlier works, that may have been a function of the historical setting (hiding differences to survive) and limited characters, but there's really no excuse for it here, and unfortunately, it has set it up so that if this is rectified in the rest of the series, it comes off as afterthought.

Regarding some of the other charges against the book though, I have to take exception. Reviewers have complained because while students come from all over the world, El identifies them as "the Mandarin speakers" or the "the Arabic speakers" and equate El's worldview (people are identified by how they might be valuable to El) with the author's worldview. I have as much respect for these reviewers as I do for people who don't believe that men can write about young women characters, and by logical extension believe that Stephen King must be a clown who lives in the sewers. Characters, and certainly this unlikable main character, will often have views that aren't socially acceptable, but it is not the job of the author to make every character perfect, it is their job to make them real, and Novik has succeeded admirably.

In all, there are definitely problems with the text that cannot be overlooked; Novik has written a page-turner novel that looks at real social and racial issues, even as it falls prey to Novik's own unseen biases.

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Selfish of me, you’ll say, to be contemplating with murderous intent the hero responsible for the continued survival of a quarter of our class. Well, too bad for the losers who couldn’t stay afloat without his help. We’re not meant to all survive, anyway. The school has to be fed somehow.

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