Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

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I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman ChainaniThe School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
Series: The School for Good and Evil #1
Published by HarperCollins on May 14th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Source: HarperCollins
Buy on Amazon

“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.

Adorable and adventurous, The School for Good and Evil is a fun escape from reality. When beautiful Sophie and weird Agatha end up in the wrong school – perfect Sophie can’t be evil now, can she? – they’re determined to fix this unforgiving mistake.

This is a magical adventure through and through; the book is set at this School of Good and Evil, a wonderfully imaginative school that trains future fairy tale characters. Meaning when you graduate, you’ll be in a fairy tale book; whether a princess, a villain, a gremlin, or even a tree, your faith will be determined by how well you do at this school. This idea kind of blew my mind a little; I found it so unique and incredibly fun. The girls, each clearly thinking they’re in the wrong school, are determined to trade places, but this proves to be quite the challenge. Told in a dual POV, we have Sophie who’s the picture perfect of a true princess fighting against face warts and drab clothes; while her strange, ugly friend (her words!) is stuck being taught how to be a perfect princess in a perfect pink dress that was clearly meant for Sophie. This role reversal is both amusing and kind of refreshing. It shows that what’s on the outside doesn’t always reflect the person’s true self, sending an important message to young’uns. Sophie is an obvious brat who thinks a good deed involves teaching others how not to be ugly anymore. It makes you happy that she’s finally learning a lesson on what being good really means. These two protagonists are polar opposites, both offering the book their own dash of charm and warmth.

The great characterization doesn’t stop at these two, we have a vast number of characters by their side who fill up the book with humor, mischief, magic, and lively personalities. These include teachers and students, as well as various magical beings ranging from gargoyles to wish fish. If this isn’t enough to charm you (be difficult, why don’t you) check out the delightful illustrations we’re treated to at every chapter beginning:

Furthermore, the plot has an intriguing mystery element involving the school master and its history which had me entranced. I loved the idea of the battle that turned the master into a mystery himself, leaving me dying to know more. Moreover, everything surrounding this whole story is mysteriously compelling. It’s also highly creative with magical touches at every corner – an MG novel perfect for fans of Harry Potter and the likes. As the plot can become a bit dark, even sinister at times, I would hesitate to recommend it to the younger end of MG readers, but I recommend it to everyone else – young and old. You’ll never find yourself bored, and you’re bound to feel the book’s enchanting atmosphere the minute you open its cover, just look at it:


4 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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41 Responses to “Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani”

  1. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Oh, I SO adored this book! It was fun and cute and different. The characters were fabulous — didn’t you just want to smack little Sophie upside her golden head?

  2. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I’ve heard nothing but praise for this book, Giselle, so I’m happy that you enjoyed it so much too.
    While the age group really doesn’t appeal to me, I actually think I might enjoy this one. It seems to have strong characters and a solid world-building. I’ll see if my library has a copy to borrow!
    Lovely review, Giselle!

  3. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    I’m glad that you enjoyed this one!! I really loved it. I listened to the audio and it was fabulous!! I still need to get a finished copy of the book. It is definitely one that’s a keeper and I need it for my collection.

  4. Kezia D

    AAHH this one has been on my TBR list for a while! I’m glad that you enjoyed it! 😀 I don’t read many MG books but this book sounds quite promising. Especially the concept — training for future fairy tale characters? Count me in 😉

  5. Siiri

    This might be the only MG book that sounds awesome to me *__* I love the cover, the premise and the characters sound awesomesauce. I’m so happy you liked this one. And oh, dear! These drawings? Gorgeous! I’m a big fan of beautiful art and I love to draw myself. Ok, not so much draw, but rather colour drawings lol. I have a great eye when it comes to colouring and making pictures look alive. However, I do appreciate decent drawings and these are pretty!

  6. Alice

    This book looks absolutely GORGEOUS. Beautiful illustrations in a Middle-Grade always make me fall in love. They’re just so beautiful and really perfect for a middle-grade fantasy. So glad you enjoyed this one Giselle! I’ll hopefully try and look into getting it soon. 😀

  7. Megan (Ink Skies)

    THOSE ILLUSTRATIONS. If the book hadn’t already had me sold at the synopsis, the illustrations would. You can’t believe how happy I am you gave this four stars, Giselle! I’m particularly happy that the characterization was well done – usually in middle grade books like this, characters tend to take a backseat while more focus is on the plot and story line. Definitely will snag myself a copy when my book buying ban is over! Lovely review as always, hon!

  8. Kristin@Blood,Sweat and Books

    Oh wow. Having never seen the hardcover before I’m impressed by the little details inside. Glad to hear this book was a win for you. I love that every character whether big or small have distinct personalities. Great review as always!

  9. Candace

    YAY, you read a MG book! I have this one on my shelf but haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I’m very happy to hear that it’s a winner!

  10. ShootingStarsMag

    This sounds great! It really does seem like the perfect book for Harry Potter fans. I love the idea of the girls being put in opposite schools than what their looks seem. 🙂

  11. Bonnie

    Gosh, the physical copy looks fantastic! I had a few issues with this book but overall really enjoyed this… will definitively be continuing this series. Great review! So glad you loved it. 🙂

  12. Ashley @ The Bibliophile's Corner

    Eeeep!I so glad you loved it! Weren’t those illustrations just beautiful? I am such a sucker for maps and pictures. I adore this book so much and it will be one of those ones that I re-read when I need a pick me up.

    Great, great review!

  13. Jen

    Eeep I’ve heard amazing things for this book, it sounds so cute! I love some MG from time to time, and this one seems like the perfect one to pick up. The concept for this one really does sound unique, especially the role reversal for the two characters. I’m glad you liked this one so much! Brilliant review, Giselle. 🙂

  14. Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books

    Oh I love it when MG books have illustrations! I’ve definitely had this book on my radar since releases first come out. Anything dealing with fairy tales will intrigue me, and, like you stated in your review, I love the basic premise of children being sent to train to become fairy-tale characters. So interesting! Thanks for the helpful review – this sounds like such a fun read.

  15. Alise

    I had no idea these had illustrations! Nice! I can not even explain my excitement for this book. I love books with humor, and each character sounds so fascinating and unique!

    Alise @ Readers in Wonderland

  16. Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

    Aww, this seems like such a cute read!! The concept kind of blow my mind a bit, it’s so unique. I mean, a school to train you for fairy tales? Yes please! The main character’s seem very distinct and it’s awesome that both get some really great characterization. Also, the pictures are so flipping cool.

    Even though MG normally isn’t my thing, this one is going on the TBR! It sounds so wonderful. Thanks for sharing, Giselle! <3

  17. Ariella

    I already had my eye on this one before it released and I can’t wait to get it! Just didn’t have time to read it yet .__.

  18. Alexa Y.

    I would definitely want to read this book! It sounds like a story tailor-made for me as I (1) loved Harry Potter, (2) love fairy tales and (3) love strong characters. I definitely can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this one.

  19. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows

    YAYYYY, my cousin who is NOT obsessed with fantasy like I am enjoyed this one! This is me –> 😀 This is actually going to be on of my very next reads, either the next or after Throne of Glass & Crown of Midnight and now that I’ve read your review, I’m even MORE excited to get into it! Fab review doll ♥ I love the pictures & the map!

  20. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    The audio was amazing, but I’m kind of sad I didn’t have a physical copy to flip through at the same time, because those illustrations are BOSS.

    Wait, you think Sophie’s charming? O_o I mostly just wanted to pull her hair. My good opinion once lost is lost forever!

    • Giselle

      She has evil charm! I meant more that her actual character gave off a lot of charm/charisma (a bewitching personality?) in the story, not that she was pleasant for us lol. She did have her minion slaves and all >.< Plus, she helped people learn how to be less ugly! That is a GOOD HEART!

  21. Kris

    I loved this book as well. It’s such a fun and clever read, and the characters themselves are compelling, even Sophie. As much of a brat as she is, she’s really the one that move the plot forward. While Agatha is more of the action taker, she wouldn’t have anything to do if Sophie didn’t act the way she does!