Reading Level: Young YA, 12+
Hardcover: 488 pages
Genre: High Fantasy
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Series: The School for Good and Evil #1
Source: Borrowed from Friend
Reviewed by: Lili
“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.
I’ve had my eye on this book for a while because of my love of fairy tales. And, in the end, it did not disappoint. While I enjoyed it, the book fell just short of great in my eyes. I think that this was in part due to the length. I enjoyed the book a lot, but it felt long to me. I would laugh hysterically only to realize that I progressed a mere five pages in the book. I think that such feelings can be attributed to pacing issues that were resolved in the second half of the book. Granted, most of the action and scheming took place in the second half and it was much easier to fly through the book then. Overall, this is a very satisfying two day read.
Agatha and Sophie are best friends for life, despite their being the tender age of twelve. They live in a town that fears and loves fairy-tales. Every four year, the mysterious School Master comes in the dead of night to steal away two children: one who is inherently evil and one who is inherently good. These kids are taken to the School for Good and Evil to train as villains or heroes for their own future fairy-tales. Sophie has dreamed of being taken away by the School Master so that she could attend the School for Good ever since her mother’s death and her lack of a proper relationship with her Father. Agatha, on the other hand, fears the idea of the school because she’s a bit of a loner and unpleasant to eye. She feared that her baggy black clothing and her living in a cemetery will immediately place her in the School for Evil. When Agatha sees the School Master come to take Sophie away, she races after him to rescue her friend, only to realize that she is the second child to be kidnapped in that year’s duo. And, even worse, she was dropped into the School for Good while Sophie suffered in the School for Evil.
As a reader, I found that twist to be great because it’s not the least bit surprising. Agatha has the heart of gold. All she does is worry about Sophie and, in truth, she risked her life to try to save her best friend. She has the biggest heart and her story slowly proves that beauty is on the inside, not the outside. Sophie, on the other hand, totally deserved to be dropped in the School of Evil. Despite looking like a miniature Sleeping Beauty, she doesn’t act like one. She is perhaps the most vain character I’ve ever come across and ninety percent of the time the obnoxious tones that spewed from her mouth often had me rolling my eyes. But, bravo for that Chainani, because that’s just excellent characterization. I found the switch of schools to be great because of the wide difference in personality and such a thing led the way for a lot of shenanigans and fun comparison ranging from prizes, clothing, ideals, classes, and authority figures. I mean, fairies versus werewolves. Of course there’s going to be some interesting twists with that!
My one issue with this novel was the romance. The overall lover boy is Tedros, son of King Arthur, whose awesome sword fighting skills, leadership qualities, and good looks landed him in the School for Good. Granted, he tends to fall for stereotypes a lot. Tedros is the most desirable boy of all so all of the Princesses are swooning over him. Well, them plus Sophie who is convinced that Tedros is the love of her life. Seriously, several times she literally claimed him by saying, ”He’s mine.” It was a little much. What creeped me out was the fact that the girls were twelve and Tedros was old enough to be dealing with a little bit of stubble. And he found them attractive! I understand this is a fairy-tale world, but some inner part of me thinks we have a mini-babyeater on our hands. Then again, the romance really is only as innocent as that of young children anyway.
With an explosive ending that makes you beg for more, Chainani’s captured my heart with his unique world that turns fairytales upside down in the most delicious of ways. I will certainly be keeping my eye out for book two, hoping that the pacing picks up exactly where this one left off.