Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)Title: The School for Good and Evil
Author: Soman Chainani
Rating: 4 stars
Blurb: 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. (More)

My Review:
Even before starting this book, I knew it would be different. Perhaps I felt this way because of the integration of fairy tales. Can I just say, finally. As a child growing up, I was obsessed with tales of princesses and princes living their happily ever after. Those times were truly magical, and reading this book has brought back the magic in an original and breathtaking way. I was pulled into the fairy tale world the author created from the very first line, and the excitement only grew as the story steadily progressed. I found myself lost in the plot, constantly envisioning the vivid imagery of the world in the story. 

The story line follows two best friends, one pretty, and one supposedly ugly. Sophie, dressed in pink and busy with good deeds, wishes for nothing but to be taken to this fairy tale land where she would acquire her happily ever after. Of course, when her friends Agatha, drab and constantly dressed in black, lands in her dream school, things take and unexpected turn. 

The idea I have to admit is ingenious. I mean, a legend about a fairy tale school the product of which are villains and charming princesses? Nice. Now add in just a touch of romance and mystery and you've got a perfectly wonderful book. 

The characters were, I would say, just right. I especially loved the son of King Arthur, who proved to override the mainstream Prince, though he had his times. The qualities and actions of the characters made me grow fond of them, and I even found myself teary-eyed at their occasional sorrows. 

Like every story, of course, this one did have flaws, the biggest being target audience. The length and vocabulary seemed much too long for a young audience, and yet the characters were aged only twelve and so the dialogue was sometimes tedious. I feel the problem could be easily resolved with an age swap, because frankly, it's difficult trying to picture a twelve year old Snow white, and even harder to picture a twelve year old prince charming. 

That's not to say that the story lost its effect on me. The plot line and world building cast aside my doubts and swept me to a truly enchanting ride. I was once again reminded that no one is ever too old for a fairy tale. 

And the cliffhanger! I will now start pulling out my hair. Oh, and did I mention, I'm loving the cover. 

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