A review by solstjohn
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik


This book is fantastic.

There's so much more I want to say but honestly I wouldn't know where to start. The brilliant main character, so developed and relatable in her raw, bubbling anger and sheer bloody minded refusal to let anyone tell her what to do? The fantastic characters around her, equally developed and endearing in their own unique ways even as defy the expectations of genre and stereotypes? The fully realized world around them, its every detail clearly thought out and explained like the hideously complex but finely-tuned machine that is the towering titular school? The cathartic themes, the enthralling descriptions, the laugh-out-loud moments and the utterly delightful romantic chemistry? It's all top notch.

But on personal level, my favorite part of this book is its sincere and pointed criticism of a certain foundational YA series that has let so many of us down in recent years. It's simple to overlook if it's not your thing, but if you've ever had a reasonable critique of Harry Potter -- for its sloppy world-building, its lack of on-screen diversity, its Anglo-centrism and colonialist leanings, or even for its unwillingness to critique and examine the themes suggested by its very premise -- you'll find a taste of what you're looking for right here.

My only regret is that there's not more of it. I've already got the sequel on pre-order. This was the most enjoyable reading experience I've had in a while.