Title: The School for Good and Evil
Author: Soman Chainani
Series: The School for Good and Evil #1
Genre: Middle Grade/ YA / Fairy Tales
Publication Date: May 14th, 2013
Edition: Kindle Edition, 498 pages
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?
What can be said about this book... it was weird. The label of Middle Grade/ YA is from Goodreads, because I couldn't tell you which it is. The age demographic seems to be all over the place. I also couldn't remember how old the characters were supposed to be. I think they're supposed to be 12-13, but the content that they participate in and that surrounds them makes me think they are supposed to be older, closer to 16-17. I was very confused about that while reading. The content ranges from fart jokes to decapitation, how old are these children characters?
That aside, the plot is also kind of weird and lame. The idea of a school to teach children to be evil is odd. I mean, the author tries to make it make sense near the end with the big plot twist. But it didn't really work for me. That might be a personal preference though.
I liked Agatha and Sophie, but as separate characters. I didn't really see how they could be friends even at the end of the book. And for a while there I was thinking that maybe they were going to go a different direction, but they didn't. Maybe because after all the violence and other strange content of the book, the author realized that the characters were supposed to be pre-teens? I may never know.
There was also never really a clear antagonist for most of the book. For half the book the, supposed, Good students were calling Agatha a witch because she wears mostly black and isn't naturally poised. Then for the other half, everybody is calling Sophie a witch because she makes a bunch of selfish mistakes that are perceived as evil acts. I guess of the two, Sophie is more "evil" because she's selfish. But really compared to the other "Good" students she's exactly the same as them. Raised to believe they are perfection.
There are a lot of side characters, and I couldn't be bothered to remember them. They are mostly all throwaway characters to fill roles for the main characters. Tedros is probably the only side character who is even remotely memorable. He's the "love interest" for it seems most of the female characters. Son of King Arthur... blah blah blah, and a hypocrite. Shortly after he's introduced we hear an inner monologue of him lamenting that girls only see him as a prince and his good looks. How he wants to find a girl who cares about his thoughts and dreams, yet he easily turns around and joins the people calling Agatha a witch because she isn't outwardly beautiful.
I am undecided on if I want to continue this series. While I am curious where this is headed as a series, I'm not sure if I care enough to read more.