Sunday, June 15, 2014

Book Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil #1)

Soman Chainani

Publication Date: March 14th 2013

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 488

Genre:  Fairytale, Fantasy, Middle-Grade

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…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.
For a while I had forgotten what a book has to do to earn a full 5 bookmarks from me. I found myself rating books 4.5 and wondering if maybe I was being too picky. Then I finished reading this book and it fully reminded me what I felt like after finishing a book that rates 5.

Where do I start this review? I guess at the heart, with our two main characters. Sophie and Agatha are as different as night and day. Sophie has shimmering, bright blonde hair and works hard to do good deeds. Agatha cares very little for her appearance, lives in a graveyard, and is cynical. Of course as soon as you see things from their points of view, it becomes clear that appearances are only skin deep with these two. I love how strong these two characters are and how they grow and are influenced, yet still remain themselves at their core.

They are layered characters. Sophie seems to only think of herself for most things, but there will be times when something more shines through. Agatha's journey of self-love is also pretty amazing to go through.

The world is imaginative and although I have seen similar things before, this is hands down my favourite rendition of the fairytale/myth school idea. The writing is both light and nuanced. Things are hinted it throughout the book and I found myself realizing things only slightly faster than the characters. The book also walks a fine line between falling into cliches and breaking them as there were times where I was about to think something predictable was about to happen, before things would suddenly change.

The ending is incredibly satisfying as well, which is important. A rushed or messy ending can lower the enjoyment of an entire book.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, fairytale or school stories. I recommend this book for anyone who finds strongly defined characters a pleasure and those who don't mind being in the head of someone quite selfish (though this did not bother me as I loved the writing of it, I understand that some people find this unbearable). I know that I will be picking up the next book as soon as I can!



Mel@Thedailyprophecy said...

I wasn't a huge fan of Sophie, but I really liked Agatha and the concept of this book. A school with fairytale characters, yes! :D

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