Book Review: The School For Good And Evil by Soman Chainani

October 3, 2013 Review 0 ★★

Book 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 2013 May 14
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 488
Format: E-book
Source: Purchased
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.

This book has just solidified my belief of the saying that “looks can be deceiving.” You know what really makes me hate a book? It’s not the badness nor the prose nor the plotholes. It’s the fact that I went into it with loads of expectation only to be severely disappointed upon arrival at the finish line.  And this is what happened to me after reading The School for Good and Evil.

Fairy tales are one of my comfort reads.  Whenever I’m suffering from a great book hangover, I always crave for something light and entertaining.  But I didn’t achieve those with this book.  Sure, the premise of The School for Good and Evil is refreshing and enticing.  But the execution was horribly done. The story was too restrained for my taste.  The only surprise that I’ve gotten from this book was the ending. The rest of the events that occurred were kind of foresighted.

 The story of The School for Good and Evil spins around the lives of two best friends from the town of Gavaldon, Sophie and Agatha. Sophie is aspiring to attend The School for Good and Evil, become a fairy tale book princess/queen and live happily ever after.  On the other hand, Agatha hated happy ever afters, beautiful dresses and was contented to live in their house located in the town’s cemetery compound.  Fate, however, has different plans for these two girls.  And soon, Sophie found herself at Evil Tower learning to uglify her beautiful self while Agatha was forced to endure the mockery of her beautiful classmates at Good Tower.  Will the girls find their stories retold on fairy tale books? Find out.

Told from alternating POVs, The School for Good and Evil gave me a direct insight to the train of thoughts of our two leads. It was an approach that heightened my loathing for Sophie and Agatha.  The more I read their thoughts, the more I see how bad they were developed. Half-baked, inconsistent and a little bit stereotypical of YA books.

Sophie is beautiful, blonde and  all things perfect. But she’s a bitch and a slut just like the other bitches that littered our YA books.  She has a misguided belief of goodness. At the beginning, she grabbed my attention.  Her attitude is a curious one and I am really anticipating how her character will play out until the end of the book. Sadly, Soman failed to make a good villain out of Sophie.  There was little to no transition when she became a super villain.  Okay, here’s the thing.  There are times I was offered glimpses of the extent of Sophie’s powers.  She is innately a bad person (without her realizing it believing that she’s the Queen of Good) and that’s where her power lies. However, most of the time she was swinging between having no powers and suddenly, getting all too powerful.

Then here comes Agatha, the good soul… ugly, plain, anti-social, weird and geeky. Another stereotype. She had my sympathy once but when she failed to see through Sophie, I start stomping my feet.  I know, I know. Her love for Sophie is unconditional but good and strong characters aren’t that stupid to allow themselves be used by bitchy friends. Instead, they will make pro-active ways to teach their good-for-nothing friends a lesson and at the same time, holding their hands. But Agatha here acted with inconceivable submissiveness bordering on co-dependency.  GRRRR. There was so much potential in her character that was wasted.

 If you think that the male love interest of this book compensated for the two “epic fail” leads then think again.  Tedros is a SPINELESS, INDECISIVE, POMPOUS, SISSY, DOUCHEBAG that I want to slap from all angles.   He is no Prince Charming.  He is just a pretty decoration that serves no real purpose to this book.

The secondary characters suffered from the same thing.  Sophie’s Evil classmates were more tolerable than Agatha’s good classmates.  So when I met the residents of the Good Tower, I was really hoping that I would be introduced to people brimming with goodness and kindness.  But alas, I was presented with the shallowest people on the planet.  Agatha’s “GOOD” classmates were vain, condescending, self-centered and spend the day wishing that will be swept off their feet by their prince charming or princess charming whichever is appropriate. This book is not only the fairy tales but also my vocabulary.  The way this book presented GOOD is just BS.

And I don’t want to expound about the main antagonist of this book. For me, he’s not that important.

Almost all fairy tales gained their popularity from happily ever after romances.  Although instalove is constantly present, still we love it…we take joy in it.  And definitely, romance is almost always the plot driver of a good fairy tale.  But please don’t expect that in this book. It was crudely done and I just had no idea what Soman would really want to do with Tedros, Sophie and Agatha.

The plot was lacklustre and loosely knitted. The twists or the lame attempt as I would like to put it deserve two eyerolls and a smirk from me. Even the story’s theme wasn’t sturdily developed.  It was like Soman pulled a Hansel and Gretel who couldn’t find his way out in the woods.

There were only three things that I grudgingly appreciated about this book: 1. The lovely lovely cover; 2. The awesome world building which makes me want to live in the world Soman has created, and 3. That unexpected ending…it’s a world without princes indeed.  Other than these, this book didn’t manage to stand out from the troupes of poorly done fairy tales.  And the worst thing is, I am obligated to read the next two books.  Yeah, I know. I am the world’s greatest masochist.


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