Sunday, June 8, 2014

ARC Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Title: The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil #1)
Author: Soman Chainani
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: May 14th 2013
Source: Received from publisher (Thanks, Sarah!)
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

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.

(Image and summary taken from Goodreads.)


Middle Grade books have always been a hit or miss for me, some are a bit too kiddy for my taste but others are just perfect for me; and The School for Good and Evil definitely hit all the right spots. It was obvious that it didn't cater specifically to children even though it is an MG because most of the time I was reading it, I felt as if I was reading a YA novel, in a good way though. There was a level of maturity to this book that most MG novels try to capture but can't seem too and that made The School for Good and Evil appeal to me even more.

I have always been fascinated with fairy tales so when I read the blurb of The School for Good and Evil, I immediately knew that it was a book that I needed to read. I mean hello, the schools where princesses, villains and other fairy tale peeps are made? Too cool. Just reading the blurb of The School for Good and Evil will definitely whet your appetite and leave you asking for the real book. And that cover? Way too gorgeous for its own good, it easily draws the reader's attention and entices you to read it. Aesthetically speaking, it's very appealing to a reader but what's written inside will completely dazzle you. Seriously.

After spending a few minutes gawking at the super beautiful map inside the book, look at the pretty below:
Image from The World of DOT.

You will then meet Sophie and right from the get-go, you will know what kind of person she is. Sure, she's pretty and gives of "princess" vibes but that's all on the outside. Sophie's goal has always been to be taken by the School Master and being real life princess but while she may be good in the surface, her intentions are anything but selfless. Which is why she hangs out with Agatha, the kid everyone considers a witch in their tiny town. The one everyone expects to be taken as the bad. The two obviously have a very dysfunctional relationship, one is in it for the end game (having her very own fairy tale) and the other, wanting her very own friend (even though she pretends she doesn't want one). So when Sophie is taken by the School Master, Agatha makes it her mission to save her friend and keep Sophie with her, thus ending with both the girls being taken to The School for Good and Evil.

When Sophie is placed into the School for Bad and Agatha is placed into the School for Good, it comes off as a mistake which cannot be remedied for once they have been entered into their respective schools, they cannot leave. I knew that Sophie deserved to be put into the School for Bad but I was apprehensive as to Agatha's placing because I didn't really see much good in her. Being placed into the wrong school was a huge roadblock in Sophie's so proving she deserved to be an Ever became her goal while Agatha's was just to get her friend back, no matter what.

About 100% of the book, I wanted to strangle Sophie. A bit drastic? Trust me, once you read the book, you'll understand. I have never met a character so annoying, self-centered and so immature, really. I don't know if Soman Chainani made her that way on purpose or what but he definitely succeeded in me not liking her. Sophie's desperate attempts at trying to get into Good's side made me feel bad for her because she was so embarrassing. Especially whenever she would brush aside Agatha's efforts at trying to help her because Sophie thought that she knew better when she obviously didn't. I wanted to cover my eyes whenever I would read her scenes because I hovered between feeling bad for her and wanting to off her. Yup. Sorry, kid. But I do have to say her powers are cool, that is all.

While I may have completely disliked Sophie, I completely adored Agatha. As the book went on, I began to see why she was placed into the School for Good in the first place. Sure she wasn't most people's ideal image of good but her goodness was inherent and natural. Agatha was simple whereas Sophie was flamboyant, and her simplicity made me like her even more. She was herself throughout the whole book, she never tried to change her image and be someone else. But when she finally found herself I just wanted to give her the biggest hug and happy cry because oh my goodness, it was such a beautiful moment. Watching her free herself from her cage of insecurities and loneliness was amazing. The one thing that saddened me about Agatha was her selflessness, while it is a great trait to have, she took it a bit too the extreme. She helped Sophie a bit too much which you will realize yourself once you read the book, but other than, I loved her. Agatha's kindness astounded me, I am happy sighing right now. I would absolutely love to have Agatha as a friend, really.

Tedros, oh, Tedros. I love and hate the guy. It was amusing watching Sophie embarrass herself for him and the other girls pine for him because let's face it, when there's a really yummy prince in front of you, you'd want some of that. But while Tedros may be good looking, athletic, smart and pretty much everything you want in a guy, there's still a part of him that most people overlook because of his other traits. He's just a guy who wants someone who understands him and doesn't just see his pretty face and title but who he really is. So deep, right? All I will say is... Agatha + Tedros 5EVER. (Dang, these kids have a better love life than me.)

Other than having a great character line up, The School for Good and Evil also boasts not only a great story line but also the most beautiful setting evah. The way Soman Chainani describes the school grounds and even the forest surrounding the place will captivate you. If Disneyland ever ran out of ideas for their theme parks, they need to make a School for Good and Evil place somewhere in there because it's just gorgeous. You will fall in love with the place because of how intricate everything is and how even though the School for Bad is suppose to be ugly and whatever, it still comes off as beautiful. If there was a plot of land available for sale in that area, I would totally be all over that.

The line between good and evil is questioned in this book and you will be given the chance to see the two from different perspectives. Sometimes, being good doesn't necessarily mean you are and so is being evil. The dichotomy between the two is broadened and also narrowed because trust me, while you're reading The School for Good and Evil, lines will be blurred and things will get crazy, trust me.

Soman Chainani has written a beautiful and enthralling novel that will appeal to every age out there because it has a bit of everything, action, romance, the meaning of friendship and everything else in between. You will never read a book like this one, Soman Chainani has written a one of a kind novel that will amaze you. I just loved this book. Loved it. LOVED. IT. And can I just say, that ending made me cry. Real tears, yo. Real tears. Also... School Master, please take me, I don't even care which school I end up at. Just please, take meeee. *waves arms*



  1. AH! Another magical world. At first I thought it's a manga because of the cover. It's weird that children are being raised to be either good or evil instead of good good. I think this is a kind of book that you can't keep down. Thanks for the review.

    1. I think that The School for Good and Evil would look AMAZING as a graphic novel/manga, and the artwork inside is just gorgeous. The premise of the children already knowing that they were meant to be either an Ever or a Never makes the book all the more interesting. It really questions ones free will/choice. And you're right, it IS the kind of book you won't be able to let go of. :) It was really enjoyable. Thanks for reading, Daenielle!

  2. I agree with how you feel about Sophie. She's infuriating at best and homicide-inducing at worst. Sometimes, I roll my eyes at Agatha for being kinder than anyone deserves to be! The ending , by the way, is so unprecedented it just made my jaw drop.

    I am still reading the second book. ^_^ I will be reviewing them too. Nice review!