The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: May 14th 2013
Genres & Themes: Fairy Tales, Middle Grade, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Witches, Boarding School.
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…?
♫ ”Two towers like twin heads
One for the pure,
One for the wicked.
Try to escape you’ll always fail
The only way out is
Through a fairy tale…”
I would love to say that this was a cute story filled with beautiful and lovely themes like friendship, love and trust but it was actually the opposite.
And it was violent. Quite violent.
While I didn’t expect the story to be like that, I did enjoy it and found it very entertaining.
Sophie is a princess-like girl who dreams of princes and forever beauty, while Agatha is a more…gothic girl. Boys are not what she seeks. She wants…a friend, a true friend who will be there for her whenever she needs one.
I really really thought this was going to be a lovely tale about friendship but the truth is Sophie uses her ”friend” Agatha to accomplish her goals. She doesn’t understand why she has been put in the Evil school while Agatha, the ugly one, was sent to the Good school.
What was interesting is to see how much effort Sophie put in trying to prove to everyone, especially Tedros, that she was the good one and deserved to be changed school. She never stopped trying to prove herself and that got my respect…before she actually did start to act—and be—like a witch.
I liked the world-building and even almost loved it. The problem is that it was overcharged. There were so many characters and teachers and names that that’s what they ended up being for me; names without a body! When a character talked (except for the main ones) I had to dig hard in my memory to find who that person actually is and what her/his connections with the girls or prince are.
The prince, Tedros, by the way, started out being very entertaining. He’s the kind of prince that seeks a princess…and beauty (like Sophie!) Of course, Agatha was for him nothing while Sophie, charmed him after only a glance from her in his direction.
*coughs* superficiality *coughs*
Too bad Evil and Good can’t be together.
…Or can they?
It was a fast-paced read, even though it started out slow, with a beautiful writing and characters that will surprise you (in both ways.) I enjoyed reading it and look forward to discover how the story continues.
I think you will enjoy it more than I did, if only you don’t get your hopes up thinking that this is a heart-warming story filled with only endearing characters that will enchant you.
Would you consider voting for this review on Goodreads, if it were helpful? ^_^ Thank you very much!
Good switch! I already got angry at the blurb that the poor goth had to be evil
Yes… I know 😦 but it makes things interesting ha
Ok, MG. LOL. Why is everyone reading MG 😀 I can be excited about them, but not going to read them 😦 Anyhow, violent? What? The cover speaks all kinds of other stories imo. Ok so the moral is that the ugly people can be good and pretty people can also be bad? Yay for a great world building! Oh yeah, better to have less characters and thoroughly developed than vice versa. I’m glad you enjoyed as a whole, but sorry it wasn’t all that you expected it to be. Great review, Lola!
MG is fun! It brings back memories and I actually feel younger while reading them. LOL Thansk Siiri, your comments are always thoughtful. =D It’s weird, I didn’t expect it to be kinda dark and gothic like that. XD
Thanks for the heads up about the violence. It isn’t what I expected by looking at the cover, but I’ve always liked the darker connection to fairy tales (the old Grimm stories, Pan’s Labyrinth and such). Now that I know what I’m getting into, I expect I might like this. But I do hate it when a blurb and cover (I know, I’m a bit shallow) can mislead a potential reader like that. Maybe they should have gone for a more gothic look?
I think you’re right. They should have gone for a less cute, rainbows and sunshine look. But it’s all about media and catching the reader’s eye, you know? Hmm. It actually starts pretty slow and kinda young but then it gets darker when Sophie arrives at Evil school. It’s not a retelling but just incorporates fairy tales characters (more mention of than actually persons though.) Anyway, enjoy! 😀
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It sounds quite violent for an MG book… do you think kids would actually enjoy it? Yeah, what am I saying, of course they will, the violence is sadly everywhere.
I think I might enjoy this, so I’m adding it to my GR shelf for when I’m in mood for MG. Great review, Lola 🙂
Yeah…they probably will. At least it’s not bloody or something but the amount kinda surprised me for a MG. Awesome! I don’t think I’ve ever seen you read a MG, by the way. 😛 Thank you.
Violence in a middle grade novel??! Where has this book been all my life? I love violence and MG (*nods head vigorously*) and I think this book is really right up my alley. I’m excited to see how it will all play out since this is first and foremost caters to younger readers. I’m glad you enjoyed this somewhat even though it was not the MG novel you’re expecting. I really do hope the characterizations and world-building work out for me. Lovely review! 😀
XD You’re something, Sarah. And I thought you were a pacifist who loves books with sad elements. I really hope they work for you as well! Thanks. xoxo
Okay that cover is gorgeous and adorable and I never would have guessed so much violence lurked inside.
I love the cover too. So pretteeeey. ME NEITHER. O.o
Despite the word evil in the title, I definitely thought this was more of a light, fun read, so I’m very intrigued now that you say it’s a bit darker. I always gravitate toward the darker, grittier reads:) Glad that the sheer number of characters to keep track of didn’t detract too heavily from your overall enjoyment and you still had a good time reading this one Lola!
Yup dark and gothic. ^^ Thank you! I guess I got used to it, you know? It’s like go on bring me some more characters. Lol
Ah yes I wouldn’t have expected a violent story either mainly with this theme and cover… But at the same time I’m intrigued because the darker side is what I’m curious about now.
I hope it will live to your expectations. 🙂 I’m just glad people are now warned haha.
I have this book on my list! It kind of reminds me of Wicked (the musical). I’m kind of bummed that the goth has to be “evil” though :S
Well no the goth goes to the Good school, even though people think she’s evil.
I don’t know of that musical. Sounds fun! 😉
I loved how violent it was — so unexpected in what looks to be a fluffy MG novel.
Yeah, it wasn’t bad at all but I was like whaaaat? So unexpected!
I’ve been really curious about this book and have been contemplating getting the audio book from the library. I like the idea that its not all good cause when I first saw the book that’s all I thought it was. Great review!
It’s definitely not rainbows and sunshine like. Definitely not but I guess that’s what makes it special. he. ^^ Thank you!
I think this is definitely interesting, especially to see how Sophie ends up using her friend, which makes her out to be evil, which was what was picked for her in the first place. Awesome review Lola! I really need to read this sooner or later!
I think everyone who likes MG should try this one. Great reading experience. 😀 Thanks!
Hmmn. I remember giving this book a 2 or 2.5 rating. I deeply disliked the characters and the plot but what redeemed the story is the premise, the cover, the illustrations and the wonderful world building. Sophie could have been my favorite character but things went downhill for her.
And I had a hard time believing the residents of the Tower Of Good. I mean, the students there should be really good, you know. I expected them to be brimming with kindess, compassion and selflessness. But what did I get? Shallow and vain characters that are worthy of an eyeroll. All the girls spend their time beautifying themselves and being mean to Agatha because she’s “ugly”.
Lovely review, Lola!
Yes I know! But I kinda liked her badass at the ending ahah.
Me too! You’re right! They were jealous and negative. Thanks, Charlotte! 😀
Would totally buy and read this for the cover alone. Is that bad?
Nope! Coz the story is fun still 🙂
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This one is on my wishlist. Though I admit that when I first saw the cover and blurb, I thought it screamed Cliché! Why does the one who is goth have to be the ‘evil’ one. Lol But I think I’ll enjoy it too, because of the good reasons you stated. I just hope I won’t be overwhelmed and confused about the names 😛
Great review, Lola! ❤
You could find many clichés in this one, for sure, but at the end you’ll still gonna enjoy it because…there’s magic, there’s mystery (and violence) and it’s different from our everyday reads. Thanks Paula! xx
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