Monday, September 9, 2013

School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani [Review]

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)3.5 out of 5 Robots!

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
Series: The School for Good and Evil #1
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Release: May 14, 2013
Hardcover: 488 Pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon
Buy the Book: Amazon

Book Summary:
“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.
(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Shannon's Thoughts:
I'm a bit torn on this book.  On one hand, I found it highly inventive.  I loved the setting, especially once the girls get to the school.  I loved learning about the teachers, the classes, the other students and the school itself.  Like the Harry Potter books, a large chunk of the fun is in discovering the ins and outs of Hogwarts The School for Good and Evil.  While I'm always hesitant to call a book the "The Next...", I felt this book was very much in the same vein as Harry Potter. 

But ultimately, there was also something a bit lacking for me.  A minor problem I had was the length.  I'm not opposed to lengthy tomes, but sometimes this one just FELT long.  Sometimes I was wondering when we were going to get to the point.  I also found it a little hard to follow.  I don't know if it was the writing style or if it was the fact that the characters were constantly changing their spots, so to speak.  The only one who consistently seem to feel the same about any given situation was Agatha.  The worst offender was Tedros, the "love interest", who was constantly in love/hate/out of love/out of hate with several characters.  And it wasn't just because he was a wishy-washy guy.  Either way, I just found it hard to keep up.  There is also the mystery of the School Master tacked on but by the time the big reveal comes along I wasn't even sure how to take it.

Again, I think the biggest strength in this book is the inventive, fantastical elements.  I liked what Chainani was trying to accomplish by showing us that Good and Evil are not always easily recognized by outward appearances.  I just wish the author had been able to accomplish that in a more succinct way.  It is definitely worth a read in my opinion, but I don't think I will be back for further installments.

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