07 September 2013

Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Release Date: May 14th, 2013
Hardcover: 488 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins

“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…?

I love fairy tales, and that's certainly doesn't come as a surprise for readers of my blog. I've certainly read and reviewed many books in this genre. But what makes School of Good and Evil special? In Chainani's novel, we get to see the makings of a fairy tale story. How does one become a princess or a prince or even a villain? And who chooses the perfect princess for a certain story? Such questions are answered when two very different girls end up at the School of Good and Evil and show that not everything in a fairy tale is completely black and white.

What I loved most about this novel was that everything was upside down. Sophie was princess material on the outside, yet Agatha was regardless of her looks a princess through and through. Agatha is an easy-to-love character; she is forgiving and faithful to her friend Sophie, even though Sophie ends up being the villain, no one expected her to become in the beginning. However not everything is black and white, Agatha also has some evil moments and Sophie tries to become a better person, not with much success. Furthermore, the character development (foremost in Sophie's case) was off-the-charts. They struggle with the roles they were given and it was interesting to see how things turned out.

The story is original and has a nice pace to it. I think, the romance was handled really well. In the beginning we only see the prince as a hottie that Sophie has obviously fallen for, regardless of his personality. But as the book unfolds, we learn to like his character and see that he is not completely Good, as well. The Prince is a jerk sometimes and doesn't trust his heart when it involves Agatha but in the end, I was a completely fan of their romance! And I really enjoyed the addition of the Storyteller's storyline and the answer to why Good has been winning against Evil for so long. 

Chainani's novel was one of the first fairy tale novels that got me to question: what is Good and what is Evil? Agatha may not look like a princess but she acts like one while Sophie tries to be good in the beginning but for the wrong reasons, and ends up being a complete villain. It's an interesting theme to think about and the author also successfully convenes the message that looks really are not everything and that actions show a lot more about one's personally. I can't wait to read the next installment and even watch the movie for this novel, since the rights for it have been bought! 

Huge thanks to Harper Collins UK for providing me with a copy for review!

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