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Vita Nostra

(Метаморфозы #1)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  2,841 ratings  ·  475 reviews
Жизнь Саши Самохиной превращается в кошмар. Ей сделали предложение, от которого невозможно отказаться; окончив школу, Саша против своей воли поступает в странный институт Специальных Технологий, где студенты похожи на чудовищ, а преподаватели – на падших ангелов. Здесь её учат… Чему? И что случится с ней по окончании учебы?
Hardcover, 2nd edition, 448 pages
Published 2008 by Эксмо (first published 2007)
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Joelgeez Just finished it and I'm shaken. However it's going to be some time before I can figure this out. I want friends to read it so we can talk about it. I…moreJust finished it and I'm shaken. However it's going to be some time before I can figure this out. I want friends to read it so we can talk about it. I see a #1 by the title. Sequel? Answers? A pointing finger?(less)
Anton Mitleider "Trilogy" does not refer to either the story, the world or even then genre, rather, it's a philosophical triptych. If you like the phantastical genre…more"Trilogy" does not refer to either the story, the world or even then genre, rather, it's a philosophical triptych. If you like the phantastical genre in general, this shouldn't be too much of a problem, though. By the way, the third book was my favorite.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,841 ratings  ·  475 reviews

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At the start of this novel, 16-year-old Sasha Samokhina is on a seaside vacation with her mother, where after a few days she finds herself stalked by a mysterious man with pale skin and dark glasses. She is eventually confronted by this stranger, who entreats Sasha to wake up at 4 am every morning, go to the beach, take off all her clothes, and swim to a buoy and back. She reluctantly agrees to this strange task, and as soon as she's back on shore that first morning, she starts to vomit gold coi ...more
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tatiana by: Barnes and Noble sci-fi blog
Who in the world wrote this book's blurb, comparing "Vita Nostra" to, of all things, Katherine Arden’s "The Bear and the Nightingale"? I know they both are set in Russia, but what do they really have in common? Snow? Don't be fooled, and if you want to pick up "Vita Nostra" because you liked "The Bear and the Nightingale," just don't, ok? If you need another fix of Russian bear, fur hats and balalaikas nonsense, Leigh Bardugo can supply those. "Vita Nostra" was written by Russian authors, about ...more
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Verbs in the imperative mood, Russian-speaking Potter fans, Tolstoy-loving fantasy fans
This is a most unusual novel, especially for Western readers. It's strange and thoughtful and dark, full of psychological twists and turns, metaphysical tangents, and the desperately humorous shenanigans of young adults carrying on at a grim Russian boarding school that is turning them all into... what, they do not exactly know.

I described Marina and Sergey Dyachenko's novel The Scar as "swords & sorcery if written by Fyodor Dostoevsky." I don't think I'm stretching the Russian-lit analogy t
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, fantasy, loved-it
Sometimes a book is so custom-made for me that I am unsure whether I can reasonably recommend it to anyone or if the reading experience was incredible just because the book hit all my favourite things. This is one of those times. Combining some of my greatest loves in fiction: dark fantasy, inspired by Russian literature, set in the middle of nowhere with plenty of snow, combining boarding school tropes with unconventional storytelling, this book was everything to me.

This book follows Sasha, who
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is like Harry Potter, but if it was written by Kafka.
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How is this baffling, esoteric, paranormal weirdness also the most accurate depiction of higher education I've ever read?
Rick (from Another Book Vlog)
I have SUCH conflicting thoughts about this book because it was crazy and interesting and groundbreaking and suspenseful and fucking weird and lacking antagonists and personality and structure and chapter breaks but it's so intriguing and different and beautiful and gross and almost too smart and then maybe not smart at all and enthralling and annoying and I want to clutch it to my chest and throw it at the wall at the same time AHAGAHSGAHSDGASGASDGJASHDGASGH
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read
Vita Nostra is a dark and deeply provocative novel about psychological and metaphysical transformation that defies explanation even after you get to the end.

It is so compelling to read, with endlessly twisting turns that loop back as often as they split off or move forward. I wouldn't necessarily be able to explain it all to someone, but I'm confident it will keep my internal dialogue going for a long time.
Tatyana Naumova
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Я бы хотела сказать, что я закончила эту книгу, но я ее совсем не закончила. Но формально дочитала, да.
Я бы хотела снять на нее обзор, но я начинаю плакать после первых слов - и уже 4 дубля могу только реветь.
В общем, главная загадка книги решилась для меня довольно быстро, но касательно деталей я и не думала. В общем, мне вспоминается 4 курс, зимняя, кажется, сессия, когда я на консультации по синтаксису спросила:"Ну а тут почему нельзя образовать глагол повелительного наклонения? Отлично же об
Nov 17, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
GR friends have pointed out they can tell whether I am enjoying a book by how long it takes me to read it - so the fact it took me 8 days to complete 400 pages should tell you something (in comparison, I read the 500 pages of the far superior The Book of Strange New Things in less than 2 days). I'm not sure what even drew me to this book in the first place, since I don't read much fantasy (although this barely qualifies), so it must have been the Russian aspect ... or the VERY cool cover. I WASN ...more
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the beginning was the Word

Science, or more specifically - the school of magic - is a trope that's used a lot in fantasy literature. Not surprising. If done well it’s a joy to read. Have Diachenko’s succeeded?

Short answer - yes.

Vita Nostra twists the trope in most unexpected ways. It’s strange, thoughtful and dark tale about metamorphosis (both physical and metaphysical) that contains coming of age elements.

Sasha is a regular, high-school student who spends her holidays at the seaside. She e
Nov 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: On a scale from one to ten, how much do you like to not get what you read? This is at least an 8
Vita Nostra is one of the creepiest books I've ever read.
I almost feel like I'm doing it a disservice by calling it "creepy", because it's so much more than that, but my vocabulary in English is what it is. As this book is about projections, I think it makes sense that the explanation of my feelings in English will be only a shadow of what I could say in Italian.

As I was saying, it's creepy. There's no on-page death, there are no monsters, hauntings or anything scary, really. It's just so overwh
Rebecca Roanhorse
I absolutely loved this book. Another reviewer described it as "like Harry Potter, but if it was written by Kafka" and I couldn't agree more, in the best way. Dark, clever, and with a wonderfully creative and original magic system that I wish I'd thought of first. It resonates so deeply as some kind of theological truth about creation that feels both specific and universal and I'm into it. The pacing is solid (hard to put down), the mystery at the heart of the book is revealed slowly but once I ...more
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First coherent thoughts: A long book that never felt long, this is a dark and often frightening version of the story of a young person going to a magical school. If the school had teachers who were uniformly scary and mysterious, and the main character was never told what she was studying and why, and what the effects would be on her mind, body and relationships. And that transformations and incredible power were to be at her disposal, and her life would be changed unimaginably.
This novel was a
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This book is slow paced, philosophical, existential and it has a sort of dreary desperation throughout. But it's also a mysterious YA fantasy book set in Russia. It's dark and bleak, and can probably be described as a more mature wizarding school book.

It's definitely not a light read, although the language is simple and easy enough. For me, this has been one of those immersive, engrossing reads that wraps me up in it's specific, unique atmosphere and won't let go until I've read the last word -
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Čuješ da su sve pare u školama magije a la Hari Poter i napišeš nešto što se može podvesti pod magične škole ali samo ako si od rodjenja slep, nemaš uopšte glavu (te ni čula), ne živiš na planeti zemlji/u našem univerzumu, ili si prosto „marketinški stručnjak“. Kroz nešto slično su prošli i Grosmanovi Madjioničari (inače, Grosman je bio najveći proponent ovog prevoda), s tim da je ovo stostruko zanimljivije štivo od već odličnog Grosmana. O čemu je onda tačno reč? Vita Nostra može da se smatra i ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vita Nostra, first published in 2007 in Ukraine, tells the story of Alexandra (Sasha) Samokhina, who whilst vacationing with her mother meets Farit Kozhennikov, a strange and sinister-looking man who forces her to attend a remote and mysterious university. This novel follows her adventures and exploits. One word that cannot be used to describe this novel is boring. It is certainly far from that and combines many different genres to create a truly original story. While I did enjoy aspects, I, unf ...more
Fantasy meets speech act theory!

Part ONE ↠ 3 stars
Part TWO ↠ 2 stars
Part THREE ↠ 1 star

Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a ride!
I don't know when book 2 and 3 will be translated into English, but I can't wait!
This book for sure deserves to be read and re-read; it needs to be marinated and savored.
It is very cerebral. dark and complicated; although maybe not for everybody.
Jul 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(cross posted from my blog review) Sasha is a normal, straight-A high-school student; until, on a holiday with her mother, a strange man with dark glasses approaches her, and asks her to get up at 4am every morning and swim to a buoy on the beach. She tries to ignore him, but when she does so, time stops passing: the same day loops over and over, trapping her in a morass of impending dread. When she finally takes the man’s advice and swims, she finds herself vomitting gold coins on the beach–and ...more
Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky)
The best and most fascinating book I have read in years.
'To live is to be vulnerable. A thin membrane of a soap bubble separates one from impenetrable hell. Ice on the road. The unlucky division of an aging cell. A child picks up a pill from the floor. Words stick to each other, line up, obedient to the great harmony of speech...'

This book may have half broken my brain, but that's okay because I had too much of a good time reading it. I'd categorize it as contemporary fantasy, but it also has sci-fi, magical realism and metaphysical aspects to it. It
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A novel that will make your head hurt if you think too much about what it seems to be about. Better to concentrate on what it is actually about, which is that liminal period in your early 20s when you begin to transition into an adult, and realize how utterly terrifying and final that transformation is.
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Conjunction Junction
What's Your Function?

How can I rate a book when I am still trying to figure out what happened? What if your Hogwarts magic superpower is .... transforming into an adverb, a pronoun, an article, etc.??

Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The "world" as hypertext...a product of human language

Creation myths take various forms, one of which states the world does not exist until the the objects within it are given names. A corollary states that knowing and uttering a True name conveys control over that object or being. Persons capable of wielding this power have been called shamans, magicians, gods, and writers. This particular theme makes a frequent appearance in fantastic literature from Le Guin's The Word for World is Forest to R
Angela Boord
First of all, I thought Vita Nostra was an amazing book, the best book I've read this year. It's a book I'll probably think over for a long time. But I'm having a hard time deciding what to write in a review. And from reading other reviews of the book, I think I may not be the only one who's suffered from that affliction. People tend to make a lot of the sinister, creepy (and bizarre) atmosphere of the magic school. Or they talk about how the book is about transformations. Or they mention the wo ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"Any instance of learning is coercion."

The first hundred pages of Vita Nostra read like a dark fantasy with a similar atmosphere to the show, Magicians. After Sasha's introduction to her mysterious university it became clear that this book was more of an allegorical criticism of Russian academia. Although the book is beautifully written I found it to be extremely repetitive. I would not recommend this book to fans of fantasy, but more for new college students who are looking for something philos
Kilian Metcalf
Nov 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished a reread of this book, and it was just as good the second time around. Maybe better because I was aware of small details I had overlooked in my rush of a first reading to find out what was going to happen next. Love you, Sasha, you rock.
I had to think about this for a bit.

I finished last night. I could hardly describe it.. well, I could describe it, but for me to say *more* than: it’s about a girl forced to go to a weird college in Russia where weird things are happening but we don’t know what... would be spoiler.

The plot is deceptively simple.. the text is heady and philosophical. The pace is slow, yet it always felt like a page turner. I never wanted to put it down. I can’t believe the imagination involved in not only coming
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Does anyone understand the end of Vita Nostra? 2 24 Mar 22, 2019 08:39AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Combine Editions of Vita Nostra by Marina Dyachenko 2 27 Nov 12, 2018 06:57AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Combine : Vita Nostra 3 32 Sep 21, 2018 11:46PM  
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Марина Дяченко
Marina and Sergey Dyachenko - co-authors of novels, short fiction, plays and scripts. They primarily write in Russian (and in the past also in Ukrainian) with several novels translated into English and published in the United States. These include, Vita Nostra (2012), The Scar (2012), The Burned Tower (2012), and Age of Witches (2014). The primary genres of their books are modern spe

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