I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
Series: The School for Good and Evil #1
Published by HarperCollins on May 14th 2013
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Fantasy, Middle Grade
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.
‘[…]whether you are Good or Evil, an Ever or a Never, you must learn to respect one another, for no matter how different you may seem, you cannot exist without the other. The line between princess and witch is a thin one indeed…’
The residents of the small town of Gavaldon are all raised on fairy tales, and they all believe them to be real. Every four years, The School Master takes two children over the age of 12 and one child is placed in The School of Good and the other Evil. It’s been four years.
Sophie, lover of pink and a self-proclaimed princess, dreams of going to The School of Good and meeting her Prince and living happily ever after. Agatha, lover of black and silence and solitude with her cat, isn’t quite sure if she believes in the schools but she knows if she was destined to go there would be no better place for her than The School of Evil. Sophie and Agatha are best friends and when both are chosen for The School’s, it comes as quite a shock when their placements are switched. Agatha is definitely not Good and Sophie can’t possibly be Evil…
What worked for me: The writing is vibrant and extremely visual with alternating POV’s between Sophie and Agatha which provided the reader with a glimpse of both schools through their eyes. Sophie was quite an unbearable character but I do believe that was the purpose (and only solidified her position with The School of Evil). Agatha managed to become the real heart of the story and a truly good person. Both girls struggle throughout the story to retain their friendship due to the constant stereotype that Good can’t possibly be friends with Evil.
What didn’t work for me: The story was excessively long and would have benefited from some additional editing. Also, once I got the gist of the backwards type fairy tale going on it did become a tad predictable. I understand that it was a Grimm-type fairy tale and was dark and malevolent, but I really hated the way Sophie treated Agatha considering they were supposed to be best friends and considering Sophie was Agatha’s only friend. The biggest flaw in my opinion was the ending though. It was so strange and seemed a bit out of left field. There’s ‘didn’t see that coming! wow what a shocker!’ and ‘didn’t see that coming because that doesn’t even make any sense.’ I requested this book solely because of that fabulous book trailer so my expectations were high from the start. This wasn’t a disappointment but it didn’t live up to my high expectations.
Truer to a Grimm Fairy Tale rather than Disney, The School for Good and Evil was intense and distressingly amoral yet still contained what all fairy tales possess: a valuable lesson. One surety about this book, there is truly nothing like it. The School for Good and Evil is a fairy tale that’s been shaken up; it’s all backwards and mismatched but still manages to retain at least the structure of the classic fairy tale that we all know and love. If you’re a fan of fairy tales (especially of the Grimm nature) then this is a story for you.