Saturday, 3 August 2013

Book Review-The School For Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Title:  The School for Good and Evil
 Author: Soman Chainani
Series:  School for Good and Evil #1
Published:  14 May 2013 by Harper Collins
Length: 448 pages
Source: netgalley
Other info: This will be a trilogy. Universal have bought film rights. I am looking forwards to this.
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…?

Review: Every four years, two children are taken from the village of Gavaldon, to the School of Good and Evil. There, they learn things that enable them to become characters in fairy tales, whether they be princesses, witches, fairy godmothers or plants. Agatha is a strange child who is thought of as a witch, living alone at Graves Hill and having one friend, Sophie. Sophie is a girl with blond hair and  the confidence that she will be taken to be a princess. Sure enough, they both are taken, but Agatha ends up in the school for Good and Sophie in Evil. With their expectations reversed and both wanting out of their schools, they both learn things about their destinies, and themselves.
I love fairytales. The idea that all of the characters are real people who all trained at the same school is a very intriguing one, that I really liked.
From the start, Sophie was a bit annoying and Agatha was more my kind of girl. It was satisfying seeing Sophie get dropped at Evil, and seeing how she coped with it. She stayed annoying throughout. Agatha dealt with her fate a bit better. I liked Agatha’s bluntness, which made me laugh. Both girls develop massively throughout, realising different things about themselves and where they truly belong. Tedros, the prince, was really irritating. He didn’t really do much and he just got on my nerves. The supporting characters like Hester and Dot were well developed.
The world building is great. It’s a magical setting, with wolves and fairies, and a mysterious School Master and the Storian, a pen writing the fairy tales.  The story moves along well. The end is very climatic, with everything happening in a blur at once. The very end was a bit sudden.
I’m sure it’s because of the way that women are presented in fairy tales (because I’m seriously hoping they’re not reflective of Soman’s views), but it really irritated me that the girls at Good were constantly “I want this boy” and wishing for boys and having beauty rooms having beautification as a subject and such. It’s such a big thing in the book that I can’t ignore it and it’s aimed at middle-grade people who do not need to be shown even more these sexist extreme standards but this generally annoyed me.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a magical fairy tale.


  1. Oh dear viz the boys and beauty bit--that sounds like something that would annoy me in an otherwise appealling book.

  2. This book does seem a bit sexist and all, and teaching that to younger kids probably isn't the best thing ever. Yet I love the sound of this one, and it's great to see that both girls really do develop and change throughout the book.

    Lovely review, Nina! <33

  3. This book has been on my to-read pile since forever!! Unfortunately it's been buried under a pile of other titles that I forgot about it. Your review's reminded me once again why this sounds like the perfect read for me and I'm going to bump this up on my list. Thanks for the review!

  4. See I saw those beautification things as him making fun of that sort of thing not as expecting people to take that seriously - but I could see how some MG readers could not see that point he was making.


Thanks for taking time to read this!
Comments are much loved.
Nina xxx

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