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Vita Nostra

(Метаморфозы #1)

by
4.11  ·  Rating details ·  4,272 ratings  ·  765 reviews
Our life is brief . . .

While vacationing at the beach with her mother, Sasha Samokhina meets the mysterious Farit Kozhennikov under the most peculiar circumstances. The teenage girl is powerless to refuse when this strange and unusual man with an air of the sinister directs her to perform a task with potentially scandalous consequences. He rewards her effort with a strange
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Hardcover, 416 pages
Published October 22nd 2018 by Voyager - GB (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)
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Rachel
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 ...more
Rincey
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.
Tatiana
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
Hannah
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loved-it, fantasy, arc
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,
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Marchpane
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?
David
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
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Rick (Another Kick at the CanLit)
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
Justine
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Caro the Helmet Lady
My opinion - great book, while I'm sure it's not for everyone.
My feelings - this was like a crush. There are not so many books I was feeling like I lived in. This one was like that. I even had dreams about it at night. In such cases it's really hard to express what you think about it, because you mostly feel it. So just some general thoughts after finishing it - I've seen many great reviews here on GR, so I'll allow myself to lazy around just sharing my musings about it. Veeery light spoilers
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Mayim de Vries
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Anything that is truly valuable is beyond material substance if you think about it.”

Among the people who write fantasy novels, there is a clear over-representation of the English-speakers. However, there are many talented writers of other nationalities; the Dyachenko duet, winners of numerous literary awards, is one of them. I think the Dyachenkos are at the moment a strong contender to dethrone the Andrews in my personal “married couples writing” hierarchy.

Alexandra Samokhina, an average
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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
Doug
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 ...more
Lata
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
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Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell
THIS BOOK SOUNDS LIKE IT IS GOING TO BE MY EVERYTHING



#NEED #NEED #NEED #NEED #NEED #NEED #NEED
Lukasz
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
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Acqua
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
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Tbfrank
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
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Maria
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 -
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Ana
Fantasy meets speech act theory!

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

...more
Lou
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, ...more
Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky)
The best and most fascinating book I have read in years.
Aliette
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– ...more
unknown
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.
Perry
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.??


Vavita
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.
Sana
'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.
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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 ...more
Rina
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
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Tes - paperbackbones
I.... loved this?

UTTER mindfuck. Harry Potter, but written by Kafka and edited by Dostoyevsky. If you enjoyed Ursula K Leguin’s The Lathe of Heaven + Max Barry’s Lexicon + the first book in Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy, then this one should be on your TBR list.

Dark and strange and unputdownable.
Avanders
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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/r/Fantasy Discus...: September 2019: Vita Nostra 7 67 Sep 30, 2019 01:55PM  
Does anyone understand the end of Vita Nostra? 2 62 Mar 22, 2019 08:39AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Combine Editions of Vita Nostra by Marina Dyachenko 2 31 Nov 12, 2018 06:57AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Combine : Vita Nostra 3 37 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
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Other books in the series

Метаморфозы (3 books)
  • Цифровой, или Brevis est (Метаморфозы, #2)
  • Мигрант, или Brevi finietur (Метаморфозы, #3)
“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...” 6 likes
“Жить - значит быть уязвимым. Любить - значит бояться. А кто не боится - тот спокоен, как удав, и не может любить.” 5 likes
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