The School for Good and Evil: A Book Review

Hello!

The School for Good and EvilTitle: The School for Good and Evil

Author: Soman Chainani

Published: May 14th, 2013 by Harper Collins

Pages: 488

Genre: Middle Grade / Fantasy

Source: My lovely sister / Hardcover

Series: Yep! You can learn more about Book Two HERE.

Summary: The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away. 

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication… But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are? {Goodreads}

My Thoughts: My sister is the ultimate fan girl for The School for Good and Evil. After months of her trying to get me to read her favorite book, I finally decided to see what it was all about a few weeks ago. While I can not join her on declaring it one of my favorite books {Morgan Matson’s novels continue to hold that title}, I can gladly say that I enjoyed it quite a bit! A delightful and interesting take on fairy tales, this is a middle grade series that I am excited to read even more about in the following books.

Sophie and Agatha have grown up hearing all of the stories about children snatched away in the middle of the night; one kid is always of pure good, and the other appears to be downright evil. When the fateful night comes around once again, it seems that a “happily ever after” {or not!} is in store for the two girls. One aspect of the book that I really admired was that the story was always challenging our typical perceptions of fairy tales. Right away, the author tests the idea that the prettiest, most princess-like of them all is not necessarily good, and I LOVED that. In a sea of hundreds of fantasy novels being published each year for elementary and middle school readers, one must do whatever it takes to stand out, right?! Soman Chainani definitely accomplished that – and with his debut, no less!

Another thing I adored was the incredible world Chainani created. His writing was so descriptive and imaginative {it will translate to the screen quite well once the movie starts filming!}; it would be hard NOT to immerse yourself into the Good and Evil schools. While the setting was developed strongly, I wish some of the characters were fleshed out that much too. This was especially true with a handful of important characters that were necessary for Agatha and Sophie’s stories. Having not read the second book yet, I am not sure if we ever learn more about these characters, but I do think the select few I am thinking of deserved more than the one-dimensional personality they were given.

One of my only other complaints is that the book is long, and maybe too long for its own good. At over 450 pages, the chapters that moved slowly seemed to go on forever, and the inconsistently in pacing threw my reading off a bit. However, I urge any reader to look beyond that, because it really is a great story for fantasy fans.

The School for Good and Evil has received a lot of press, and for good reason. With descriptive writing, strong main characters, and a vivid setting, this novel is one that I can happily recommend! Despite the book’s slight issue with pacing and the lack of development for some of the secondary characters, I think it is well worth checking out, especially if you like a new take on fairy tales.

Pros:  I personally adored the story, and I really enjoyed seeing Agatha and Sophie grow and evolve throughout the novel. Their relationship, as I mentioned yesterday, is a terrific example of friendship for this genre!

Cons: Some of the chapters moved very slowly, and since the book is on the lengthier side, it was even more noticeable. I also wish that some of the other characters were fleshed out more, but that may change with the next book.

Heads Up: Some of the descriptions were a little gross, not going to lie, but nothing crazy!

Overall:  I give it 4 stars {****}, and I recommend it for ages 11 and up.

Have a lovely night!

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