Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: The School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Title: The School of Good and Evil
Author: Soman Chainani
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publish Date: May 14th, 2013

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.

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani is what I've always hoped and dreamed a fairytale would be. It's got relatable characters on both sides of good and evil, it's got humor and drama and romance. And, best of all, it's got some serious girl on girl friendship!

I feel like you never see friendship, real, amazing friendship, anymore in books. Especially between two girls. It's like once the romance kicks in all friends, including best friends, are forgotten. Well, I've got to say, Chainani does not let the romance element of the book overtake Agatha and Sophie's friendship. That's not to say the romance isn't a big part of the novel, it is. And it's not like Agatha and Sophie don't have their issues and fall out as friends ever, because, uh... Yeah. They definitely do. But, at its heart, The School for Good and Evil is about overcoming obstacles and sticking with the people you love, the real people you love, the person who would fight to the death to keep you safe. Even when you probably don't deserve it.

My favorite moral of this story is an oldie but a goodie: Don't judge a book by its cover. And Chainani weaves that thought into The School for Good and Evil seamlessly and beautifully. Sophie is beautiful on the outside, but inside's not as shiny and polished. Though, no matter how horrible of a person Sophie is, you can't help but want to like her. While Agatha is, on the surface, not beautiful and bubbly or chipper, but when you get right down to it, Aggie's the one to call when you're in trouble and eventually people start to recognize her for it. True beauty doesn't shine from outside in, it shines from inside out. That is the message Chainani is sending in this book and it's a much needed one. Because it doesn't matter if you're tall, short, fat, skinny, white, black, blonde or brunette or any shape or color in between. If you're a beautiful person on the inside, people will eventually be able to tell on the outside. And if they can't, then I'm willing to bet they're insides are uglier then they say your outsides are any day.

The School for Good and Evil definitely has a Disney movie vibe to it. It's very animated in its writing. Things just seem to play out in your head in cartoon form while you're reading. But there's so much more killing and death in this book then I would have ever thought. So many people and creatures die throughout the book and everyone wants to kill everyone else. Death is nothing new in YA or fairytales, but for some reason it caught me off guard here. The deaths weren't usually very emotional and were usually brushed over, though that didn't bother me as much as I thought it would. I think it ultimately added to the fairytale vibe.

If you love fairytales or Disney movies (and, c'mon, who doesn't?) then why haven't you read this book yet?! Action packed, romantic, and full of fairytale goodness, The School for Good and Evil is a must read. Can't wait to see what happens next in A World Without Princes!

For more about A School for Good and Evil check out these sites!


  1. In my head this was a middle grade book, I don't know why? Anywho, it sounds AMAZING! Great friendships are definitely not normally the focus in YA which is too bad. I can't wait to meet Sophie & Aggie and discover this beautiful story! Great review Jesse =)

    1. It's definitely got a middle grade look to it, but the story doesn't come off middle grade at all to me, though I've seen other reviewers call it MG.

  2. This sounds like a really good story! I was curious about it when you posted it in your Teaser Tuesday post. It's something different than what I would probably normally read but it sounds good and I love the fact that is seems to have great friendships in it. I agree that it doesn't seem like there is all that great of friendship between two girl best friends in books anymore. Seems like something always screw it up--boys mostly. xD


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