[A quick note: This was one of my HIGHEST anticipated reads of 2021. No joke. I was bummed when the release got delayed from July to September. I love this series so much and can’t wait for the 3rd book. While the second didn’t quite live up the first, I still really like this one. These are both the UK editions. The top one is standard. The bottom one is the Illumicrate version.]
“𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐬𝐧’𝐭 𝐠𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡. 𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐬𝐧’𝐭 𝐠𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐥 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐨𝐮𝐭.”—Naomi Novik
Slime monsters, thousands of students, and a school that wants to kill you? What more could you want from a dark academia setting? How about a badass female MC who’s prickly as a cactus? What about a cute teddy bear of a romantic interest who’s viewed as a hero and wants to hunt monsters all day? The Scholomance is back again! The second installment of this series was so much fun. I really enjoyed diving back in to this increasingly familiar world. While I did experience a few minor disappointments, overall I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
El is a…different character. She’s imperfect. She’s not very friendly. She is completely unapologetic. And until now, she’s been content to lookout for herself and only herself. Until she realizes that she has the power to save her classmates. Hello internal conflict! My favorite part of the storytelling is all of El’s asides. It can take ages to get through a sequence of events because El takes so many detours in explaining and offering background information. Some might find this boring. I enjoy it. Plus, it feels like it’s part of El’s character.
Things have severely changed in the Scholomance this year. Suddenly, monsters aren’t attacking students anymore. Unless you’re El. In which case they’re out to get you. But why the change? Why is El the new target? Why is the school out to get her? Or is it? Suddenly El is viewed as the necessity—the only student capable of getting everyone else safely through Graduation. She goes from being a nobody to being extremely important. This is a bit much for her to handle. And she doesn’t handle it all that well—she’s prickly, remember? She’s always been the reject.
And poor Orion!!! My big doofus of a teddy bear. I love him. Truthfully he’s my favorite character because he’s different from most male romantic interests, so I was bummed that I didn’t see much of him for the first 30% of the book. But he does play an increasingly prevalent role as the book goes on. In the first book, Orion was the hero. Every monster attack—he was there to defend. But when all the monsters disappear and begin only attacking El, Orion finds himself out of work and out of “mana”. Now he’s desperate to do some slaying. He takes to patrolling the halls just in hopes of coming across something. It’s pretty funny because he’s so obsessed that his grades and performance begins to drop.
The plot went in a direction I was NOT expecting, and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about that. Mostly I wish it wouldn’t have. It felt too desperate. I like this story for its dark academia vibes and seeing a school that suddenly isn’t as dark…kinda messes with the vibe for me? This was one of my biggest negatives. My other negative is I’d have liked to see more of Orion + El earlier on. It became a frustration point during the first half of the story. And finally, the BIGGEST frustration point was the cliff hanger. IT DROVE ME NUTS. Really nuts. I’m still pretty salty about it.
Buuuutttt, I really do love this world and the story. So it’s hard to be too upset over any of my negatives. I will be eagerly awaiting the next book. 𝐌𝐘 𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆: 𝟒/𝟓⭐️