Book Review: The Last Graduate (The Scholomance #2) (ARC)

Expected publication: September 28th 2021

Author: Naomi Novik

A budding dark sorceress determined not to use her formidable powers uncovers yet more secrets about the workings of her world in the stunning sequel to A Deadly Education, the start of Naomi Novik’s groundbreaking crossover series.

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 . . .

[A Deadly Education (#1) Review]

The Last Graduate is the second novel in the Scholomance trilogy. The novels in this series, for me, should be read in order to fully appreciate and understand the content. This novel does end with a cliffhanger ending, so waiting for the next novel is going to be very difficult as I am anxious to see what happens next! The story continues to follow El as she begins her senior year at the school. With many secrets and dangers continuing to lurk around every corner, it will not be a dull year for these magically gifted students.

El continues to explore her relationships with her newfound group that was formed in the previous novel. Her friends and alliance members, Liu and Aadhya continue to be a great support system. Their dynamic provides a nice balance between everyday friendship dynamics/character growth navigation and the main plot of dangers in the school. El also continues to navigate her complicated relationship with heroic Orion Lake. Now that she has received a warning for being near him, she has a new obstacle to overcome. Their relationship initially seems to be an enigma to the characters and to the reader, but their relationship grows a lot with the dynamics between them changing. I loved reading about their complex relationship as they try to navigate their feelings and the many dangers around them.  

This senior class has around 1000 students left after starting around 1600, which is vastly larger than the 800 (or less) that is usually present at this point. I loved that these statistics were weaved into the narration as it reaffirms the dangers that the students face each year. With the change in the number of students, they are not facing a huge unknown about how making is pass the graduation test will go. With odds seemingly in their favor, El starts to think about life after graduation for the first time. The mal continue to pose threats to the students, but their attacks are different from the first novel. In A Deadly Education, there is mal after mal presented to the reader, so it was very interesting to see how the dangers have changed based off the ending of the last novel.

Overall, this is an excellent transition novel between the first and third novels in the trilogy. I loved the amount of character growth and the journeys that the characters go through which helps this novel not feel like a “filler,” which can happen to some second novels in a trilogy. I greatly enjoyed reading this novel with the multiple twists, endless dangers, and great characters to create an interesting story. Although I loved El in this novel, there was a part of me that missed her being a very snarky loner as her being an outcast added an even greater layer to the tension of the story. She is still sassy as a character, but it now is presented in a new way given her circumstances have changed. This novel was an excellent addition to the series, but, again, the ending is very frustrating because now I really want to know what will happen next!

**I give a special thank you to Netgalley, the publisher, Del Rey Books, and the author for the opportunity to read this enjoyable novel. The opinions expressed are completely my own.**

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