A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik was October’s book club book for the Fantastic Stranglings Book Club, led by Jenny Lawson over at The Bloggess. I, unfortunately, was in full wedding-stress-meltdown-panic mode, and a such I just picked up this book this week.
I decided that Orion Lake needed to die after the second time he saved my life.
Everyone loves Orion Lake. Everyone else, that is. Far as I’m concerned, he can keep his flashy combat magic to himself. I’m not joining his pack of adoring fans.
I don’t need help surviving the Scholomance, even if they do. Forget the hordes of monsters and cursed artifacts, I’m probably the most dangerous thing in the place. Just give me a chance and I’ll level mountains and kill untold millions, make myself the dark queen of the world.
At least, that’s what the world expects. Most of the other students in here would be delighted if Orion killed me like one more evil thing that’s crawled out of the drains. Sometimes I think they want me to turn into the evil witch they assume I am. The school certainly does.
But the Scholomance isn’t getting what it wants from me. And neither is Orion Lake. I may not be anyone’s idea of the shining hero, but I’m going to make it out of this place alive, and I’m not going to slaughter thousands to do it, either.
Although I’m giving serious consideration to just one.
All right, so we’ve got boarding school – check. Magical boarding school – double check. A protagonist who seems to be leaning more towards the dark side? Sign me up for a trip, I think this one is worth checking out.
Now, I’ve ranted on here before about how YA fiction seems to slowly becoming more and more unreadable for me. I just can’t stand the love triangles (or the love stories in general), and I want to clobber the main characters over the head for being idiots (part and parcel of being teenagers) more than I want to root for them to come out on top. Probably not a good combination. Our main character, El (full name: Galadriel, but she is very quick to tell you that she absolutely had no part in naming herself) may fall into the self-centered idiot category quicker than I would like. This may be a tough read.
I’m writing this FIF post after just finishing the first chapter, and my head is spinning a bit. Novik front-loads everything about the world into this one little chapter, and I’m left trying to untangle the pieces to make either heads or tails of what I’ve been given. El is at boarding school in a place called the Scholomance, which is some sort of rotating school that has demons living in the basement that you have to beat as your final graduation exam (and only about 1/2 to 1/4 of each year’s graduates emerge alive over the course of their four-year stay, whether they’ve been killed by their own incompetence, their fellow magical classmates, or those aforementioned demons in the basement). El’s mother is the definition of a hippie, El’s father died upon graduation while making sure his girlfriend escaped, and El seems like she just wants to make the world burn. She’s definitely leaning towards the darker side of the magic (but is there actually a light side? It’s hard to tell), and says that there are two types of “power” to help you do magic: Mana (which you create apparently by doing jumping jacks??) and Malia, (which is stolen from other living beings, and you could possibly kill someone if you tried a spell that’s too powerful).
The amount of information in the first chapter makes it seem like this book is going to be a tough uphill climb, but I’m hoping this turns out to be a better book than I’m hoping. I’m looking at a solid 3 on the sliding scale right now (just because I’m afraid El is going to be that stereotypical hotheaded teenager and will end up in your stereotypical messed-everything-up-and-now-I’ve-got-to-fix-it storyline), but I’m hoping it ends up as a solid 4 or higher on my rating list. Only time will tell.
And as always, keep reading.