Saturday, June 7, 2014

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani


Middle Grade Fantasy



Agatha and Sophie are friends. Well, kind of. Dark-haired, dumpy Agatha lives in a graveyard with her cat. Blonde Sophie spends all her time making herself beautiful, and takes on Agatha as a charity case to boost her Good standing. One night, both of them are kidnapped and taken to The School for Good and Evil. Only Sophie ends up in the School of Evil, and Agatha in Good. Is this a clerical mistake? Was the mysterious School  Master confused? 

This is the world of fairy tales, complete with princes, princesses, mythical characters (most of the other students are kids of famous villains or heroes), and storybook endings. But everything is not quite that simple. The girls are convinced they're in the wrong schools based on looks alone. Agatha can never be a princess because princesses aren't ugly. Right? So why do they keep doing so well in their respective schools?

I loved this novel's message. It turns the idea of helpless princesses/damsel in distress right on its head, and has an amazing ending to boot! I also love learning about the various classes each school hosts, reminiscent of Harry Potter. Princess Posture, anyone? 

This is a middle grade book, and sometimes it seems like Agatha and Sophie were simpler versions of the girls they had the potential to be. I'm thinking that this will change for the better in A World Without Princes, which I'll definitely read. 

My favorite quote:

No wonder princesses were so impotent in fairy tales, she thought. If all they could do was smile, stand straight, and speak to squirrels, then what choice did they have but to wait for a boy to rescue them?



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