I just finished Naomi Novik’s sequel to A Deadly Education, and I have thoughts, but they are not organized. So in no particular order, just off the top of my head as I close the book . . .
SPOILERS BELOW, DO NOT READ ON IF YOU HAVEN”T READ A DEADLY EDUCATION AND THE LAST GRADUATE.
This is not a book that can be read without reading the first one first. I’m not sure I’m going to understand it all without reading it again.
It’s not as focused as the first one, and it’s not as compelling. I’m thinking that’s because it’s a second act, and middles are always squooshier than beginnings (world building and set-up) and endings (big finish and closure).
She still didn’t pay off the mysterious ending to the first book, which is annoying unless this is actually just one really long three-act book that she hasn’t finished yet, which think is what it is. That is, unlike Rivers of London or the Allingham mysteries or most of the other series I’ve been reading, none of these books are stand-clones (alone if the first one didn’t have the last line, it would have been).
The characters are so well drawn here, that it’s worth it wading through all the mythology to get to them. I could have done with less political background and more character in action, but the characters still carry it.
I love the mice.
El’s arc isn’t nearly as satisfying as in the last book, but it’s hard to top outcast-to-power-player; at this point all she has is power-player-to-mega-power-player. Orion is already a cross between Hercules and Thor, so I’m assuming El becomes a goddess in the next one.
what are the odds that El’s seer-Mom warned her about Orion because he’s knocked her up the night before he shoves her out the door to save her the same way her dad shoved her mother out the door?
I do not believe Orion Lake is dead. I am wondering if when El shoved him and the school into outer darkness, he doesn’t come back evil. Mostly I’m annoyed that he stayed behind to die fighting the whatsis. Too much like Jack drowning instead of climbing up on the door (there was room on that door, damn it).
I’m still a little fuzzy on how El managed to get all the male in the world into the school. And if she was going to obliterate the school anyway, why did Orion have to stay behind to kill the whatsis?
And what about Great-Great-Grandma’s prophecy? And why is Orion such a monomaniac about killing monsters? And what’s with Mom’s warning about him? Too many prophecy/mystery things banging around in the plot at the point.
If I were rating these books, I’d give A Deadly Education an A+ and The Last Graduate a B. The second book is well worth reading, but it has that mess in the middle feeling and no closure. Maybe I just need to read the second one again. Novik’s work is so layered and complex and detailed that I can’t get it all in one read.
So those of you who read it, what did you think of The Last Graduate?