The Golden Enclave

El and Orion have just saved all the students in the Scholomance, and then boom major cliffhanger from The Last Graduate. Now El is stuck back in the ‘real world’ mourning the lost of Orion. Except El never expected to get out of the school alive and she has no idea what to do next. That is until some of the recent graduates from the London Enclave come to her, begging for her help saving the London Enclave. Suddenly all of the once safe enclaves are in danger of collapse and El might just be the only one who can save them.  

I loved El and Orion both in the first book. In the second book I loved Orion even more and while I didn’t grow to love El more, I didn’t find myself disliking her. This book El was almost an entirely different person and I didn’t particularly like her. Orion, though mentioned a ton, is only in a small portion of the story. I’m not sure what happened but they felt like totally different characters and the addition of new characters/ reappearance of recent graduates just didn’t feel fully developed.

This book definitely dove deeper into darker themes than the first two books, and really what I would expect from a YA read. There was a ton of discussion about inequality, capitalism, privilege, nepotism, etc, and while I love a story with underlying themes they took away from the main plotline of the series.

The romance between Orion and El was still kind of there, but also there’s a romance extra side story that comes in with El, and it felt entirely unnecessary and forced that it was a bit cringy. And I LOVE a good romance, but hate when these plot lines are just thrown into the mix like a side thought. I know this is a YA book, but gah this whole thing irritated me to know end.

Realistically though, I just didn’t feel as invested in this story. The first two books had all this tension, anticipation, and high risks. And while technically this book had even higher risks, it just didn’t feel that way. I felt it took us too long to get to the crux of the issue and then the ‘big ending’ fell completely flat for me. The dark academia feel that we get in the first two books disappears in this book, which seems natural considering it takes place outside The Scholomance, but the transition felt too abrupt.

I’m also not on board with El’s roll in all that takes place with the Enclaves. It all felt a little too clean and even though all my questions were answered, I still feel like I don’t fully understand the greater WHY of what happened. Novik does try and answer these questions (the ones I didn’t know I had) but the explanations start to get a too philosophical and theorical and maybe as an exhausted new mom I just don’t have the brain cell to comprehend the explanation, but for a YA book it was a bit much and too away from the story.

I normally hate a series to end, but in this case, I would have preferred it to stay a duology than have this extra book that just didn’t quite work. Naomi Novak is an amazing storyteller and world builder. I will completely keep reading her work but I’m so bummed that this one didn’t live up to my expectations, especially since I adored both Deadly Education and The Last Graduate.

Deadly Education Review | The Last Graduate Review

AMAZON GOODREADS |★★★

The Golden Enclaves is out now.  If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof.books.

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