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

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani. Young Reader Fiction. Publisher: HarperCollins

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani. Young Reader Fiction. Publisher: HarperCollins

The Book Itself: I love this cover. The colors, the art style, the way the title is illustrated. Very talented illustrator here.

My Review: With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.

The two girls soon 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 among 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?

Y’all, I read a Kid’s book. And it was pretty dang good.

I was always drawn to TSFGAE‘s well-illustrated cover. It looks like Harry Potter, but with girls!

And in a way, it is. The people of Agatha and Sophie’s village try to disguise their children every year to avoid them being taken away. When it’s Agatha and Sophie’s turn, they are deposited in the opposite school either one of them (or their friends/family) would think. They spend an irritating amount of time trying to convince themselves and their classmates that they’re in the wrong school. (Seriously, you want to shake these girls and just say “everything is telling you you’re in the right place! Just deal with it!”)

But it’s the personal, coming-of-age factor that builds the journey of this story. You get the sense that both characters start to come into their own, but still have a lot of growing to do (that’s what the next two books are for!)

My biggest confusion with this book is it’s…tone? I’m not even sure what to call it. The book is a nice, playful take on fairy tales. Graduates of Good school go on to become Heroes and Princesses. Snow White? Cinderella? Top of their year in Good school. Other Good graduates become sidekicks. Others are transfigured into animals, enchanted objects. Villains come from Evil School. Maleficent and every bad witch in the books graduated from Evil. It pokes fun at the tropes and stock characters seen in tales. But the parody is injected even into Agatha and Sophie’s characters and narration. Sophie is over-the-top 100% of the time. She exclaims things. All she gushes about is her appearance and she screams at anyone who listens that she belongs in Good, she swears! Agatha is moody and melodramatic and, until a fairy godmother crosses her path, convinced in every line that she’s hideous. I wished the girls were taken a little more seriously, so it didn’t feel like I was reading a parody of a story about fairy tale schools. I couldn’t take either girl seriously, and I wanted to.

It tried to fit a little too much into one book. There are conspiracies, classes, mysterious passages and tricks abound in this school. The chapters are short, and each one feels like it tries to deal with something new.

That said! It’s a ton of fun. It’s a fun read, and exactly what a Kid’s book should be like. I can’t put it on par with Potter, but when the next book comes out in paperback, I’ll be picking it up to continue with the girls’ story 🙂

My Grade: B


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