Currently Reading: A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik + current state of Hugo reading

I’m going through the Lodestar nominees currently. I did just finish T. Kingfisher’s A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking which is currently winning all the awards. It was great fun and well-deserving of all the praise it is getting but I don’t have much to say about it for a review. Reminds me of Murderbot in that’s another set of stories which I really like but don’t actually have much to say about.

I’ve now moved on to Naomi Novik’s new series, a magical school setting but with a more brutal twist or rather an acknowledgement that magical schools in literature have a disproportionate fatality rate compared to your average high school.

I’m mindful that having a whole big heap of time to read EVERYTHING and yet somehow it is October already and the Hugo voting deadline is fast approaching! I don’t think I’ll get to read all the Lodestar finalists.

I’ve fallen behind on novellas. I’d been doing pretty well and then I stalled on The Empress of Salt and Fortune…oddly. I had it as an audiobook and just couldn’t get into it at all and had to keep restarting because my mind would wander and I’d realise I’d lost track of the story. Gave up on the audiobook and went to the ebook version and enjoyed it. Just not the right kind of pace for an audiobook for me I guess.


21 responses to “Currently Reading: A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik + current state of Hugo reading”

  1. I very much enjoyed A Deadly Education, but it does show up my general Lodestar confusion. What is YA? What prevents a book being a Hugo nominee.
    The style of ADE is so very far from AWGTDB. Both have teenage protagonists, but they don’t have much more on common than that.
    I think I nominated ADE for the Hugo best novel Gong. Or meant to and forgot. One or the other.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved Wizard’s Guide. I don’t usually like YA because I’m way outside of their target audience, but this was delightful. I think it is because it didn’t have romance. I have no desire to relive teenage love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Kingfisher/Vernon is one of the few authors whose YA novels I’ve enjoyed. Most others are full of angsty teenaged angst, which I really don’t enjoy. The only reason I stuck with A Deadly Education was because I liked the creaky, steampunky school which was doing its best to compensate for all of its broken parts.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Same for me. The Lodestar finalists are usually the ones I leave for last, because I’m not the target audience for those books and most of them don’t really work for me either. Though I did love A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking. A Deadly Education didn’t work for me, but then I really don’t like magic schools and Naomi Novik’s books are very hit and miss for me anyway.

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    • I must be the only one who thought Baking was too light weight to be awardworthy as YA. It seemed cute, fluffy and maybe MG. I wasn’t sorry I read it, but I was happy to have gotten it from the library rather than as a purchase.

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      • I don’t read much YA, because almost every time I do, it makes me either exasperated or angry (or both) due to the tedious angsty-teenaged-angst and/or lionization of selfishness and stupidity as “heroic”. So if I actually enjoy a YA book, like Defensive Baking, to me that makes it award-worthy.

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        • One year, three Lodestar finalists had basically the same plot of “I hate my life, I hate my much prettier and popular older sister and then there’s this boy who’s so beautiful and so cruel, but so beautiful….” and I was ready to throw the books against the wall.

          My Mom was a Hugo voter then and said, “These YA books are terrible. The poor kids who have to read that stuiff.”

          Me: “Those books are actually highly popular. You and I just aren’t the target audience anymore.”

          Liked by 3 people

        • Let me try explaining what my issue is here.
          If you took the basic plot, added a couple sex scenes and some adult language, would Baking be award worthy fantasy? I’
          It wouldn’t be for me, but that might be a difference in personal taste. I’d have nominated any of the Tiffany Aching k
          novels if the Lodestar bad been around then, but those books seemed rounder to me, even if they were humorous MG fantasy.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Neither the Nebula nor Hugo Awards have distinctions between middle-grade and YA, and the two do get lumped together. Middle Grade books have won a bunch of the Norton/Lodestar ballots, as a result. That said, as noted by Vernon in the acknowledgements of Baking, her editors felt it was too serious for a kids book, and thus it’s kind of hard to tell what fits as middle grade vs Young adult (I guess books with sexual content are solidly in the latter category, but not every book without sex will be in the former).

        I love YA, and recommend people try out the nominees every year, as some of my favorite books are in the category, and I’m in my mid 30s. Yeah there’s some generic stuff in there, and the themes are usualy a lot less subtle than in “adult books”, but they’re often very very good and more effective as a result.

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  3. I just bought Wizard’s Guide after it finally came out in audio on 10/12. I’m looking forward to it. It’s actually available in audio at my library — a real shocker — but I didn’t want to wait for the hold period.

    I listened to the Novik months and months ago. I am really sick and tired of magic school tropes, but I ended up liking it very much anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s funny, I liked A Deadly Education, although it had some issues that i’ve had with other Novik works (Temeraire), especially dealing with national stereotypes, but it was enjoyable (My review is here)https://garik16.blogspot.com/2020/12/scififantasy-book-review-deadly.html. I really didn’t like the sequel though, which takes the info dumping of the first book and just takes it up another level to ridiculousness, really crippling the pacing.

    If you haven’t gotten to it yet, since I know you’ve gotten to my other two top Lodestar nominees, I really recommend trying to get to Elatsoe. It’s so good as well, and something a bit more special and unique than the Novik work. At least in my opinion.

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          • It isn’t. And it is a regional rights issue. It’s available on the US store, but not the Australian one. It’s actually a substantial issue with audiobooks, and particularly recent releases.

            It’s also maddeningly inconsistent. For instance, Lindsay Ellis’s Noumena series just had a second book come out. The first one is available on audible.com.au, but the second one isn’t, even though it’s available on audible.com.

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  5. I really liked ADE. Whether I keep it depends on how the story turns out. Very interested in finding out how the “law of balance” discussion works out.

    Liked by 1 person

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