22 November 2015

The School For Good & Evil by Soman Chainani

Publication: 2013

# of Pages: 488

Source: Published Copy, BooksAMillion

Favorite Quotes:

  • "Beauty can only fight the truth for so long." 
  • "Only once you destroy who you think you are can you embrace who you truly are." 
  • "You're not evil Sophie. You're human." 
Goodreads Summary/Blurb

"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 tales 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...? 

My Review/Thoughts

Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood--We've heard all of these names and more whether from our personal experience with Disney movies or a book of fairy tales someone read to us as a child. The School For Good & Evil, while a spin on the concept of a fairy tale, provides the reader with a broader range of knowledge about the origins of these fairy tale characters. They didn't just come from random magical places, but they were once ordinary individuals selected and trained at this school and the course of their stories/fairy tales were documented by the Storian (a magical pen that writes by itself). They are, in essence, the documented heroes of this school (at least the good side of the school).

What I enjoyed most about the development of this novel was Chainani's ability to create a completely different spin on the concept of the fairy tale. He actually attempted and successfully built a world in which the reader learns about the origins of fairy tales, the heroes, the damsels in distress, and the wicked forces that work against them. While the school is solely dedicated to maintaining a balance that gives power equally to good and evil, it seems that evil has been on the losing end of the spectrum for a little over two centuries until Agatha and Sophie arrive. It is through them that the scales of the school are tipped and things ultimately become complete chaos. 

It is the friendship between these two characters that becomes the driving force of the novel. They have to manage to remain true to their friendship even when the most unlikely forces get in the way. I must say that I enjoyed Agatha a lot more as a character than Sophie. Sophie's inability to see past her level of vanity and her lack of compassion for anyone outside of herself was difficult to read through; however, it plays a role in the plot development of the novel. I just hope that she develops more as a character throughout the series. I also hope that the complexity of the plot becomes a little more defined. There seemed to be several different plot lines in this novel and at times it was difficult attempting to determine which plot to focus on. 

The concept of good versus evil is a unique and interesting concept in that Chainani blurs the lines of what we define as good and what we define as evil. Quite often children are exposed to books and movies that make good and evil very black and white; however, it is gray area in which a person can be a little bit of both. As stated by Agatha, we're all just human beings trying to make in the world. Each one of us possesses a little good and a little evil because at the end of the day  "it's not what we are, but it's what we do" that matters the most. If you are interested in a different spin on the concept of fairy tales I would recommend checking this out. 

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars


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