Fairy Tales

The School for Good and Evil – Soman Chainani

The School for Good and Evil

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)

Author: Soman Chainani

Series: The School for Good and Evil #1

Publish Date: May 14th, 2013

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

New York Times Bestseller * Indie List Bestseller * Soon to be a Film from Universal Pictures * A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2013 * Waterstones Children’s Prize Nominee * Children’s Choice Reading List Selection

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.


Review

I was very very excited to read this one. It was a well-received break from all of the chick-lit and contemporary books I’ve been reading lately.

The School for Good and Evil was an interesting take on fairy tales and what might go into the creation of them in an alternate universe. I really liked it. It took a boarding school and fairy tales and put them together! How could I not like it?

I’m a sucker for books set in boarding schools. I might have bypassed this book if not for the fact that it revolves around oh what do you know? A boarding school. Nevertheless, the book had a very unique premise compared to other fairy tale books.

It begins with an introduction of our two protagonists, Agatha and Sophie. Sophie is a girly, pretty girl who believes that she’ll be the next in line to be kidnapped to attend the School for Good and Evil. Agatha on the other hand, is an ill-tempered girl with a liking for frumpy black clothing. Many believe her to be the candidate for the evil school. A series of events occur in which the two are snatched, not going along the plan that had originally been laid out. The two’s positions are switched, with Sophie entering The School for Evil and Agatha entering The School for Good. Agatha, determined to get her and Sophie home and away from the nightmare, begins formulating a plan to get them back to their beloved Gavaldon. From the beginning, anybody can tell that friendship will be a central idea of this book. I like that it had friendship as a bigger overarching theme than romance.

I liked this book right up until the last few chapters. Agatha was my favorite character from the beginning with her snarky, logical, anti-social personality. It was pretty clear who was evil and who was good even if the characters stubbornly refused to see it. But what annoyed me about the book was that in the end, Agatha changed from her personality. She was no longer the lovable, snarky girl that I had liked going into the book but instead, had become a little similar to the Sophie from the beginning of the book.

The romance was developed poorly. There was a total of two possible boys that Agatha and Sophie could have dated and one of them had a 0.000000000000000000000000000001% chance of actually getting the girl. So in  other words, there was a love square. Now where’s the fourth person you may ask? Oh it’s just Beatrix, another girl that happens to be at the school. So much of the romance is chalked up to the fairytale soulmate crap that there’s absolutely no evidence of development between the characters. I expected that even though this was fairytale based book, that there would still be at least some development. Nope. One minute they’re enemies, the next they’re soulmates. The same lack of subtle development was seen in the way that Sophie became evil. I personally think that it would have better for small details and cracks in her persona to reveal the ugly personality she had inside. Just like the jumps from enemy to soulmate, Sophie jumps from nice to evil.

The ending was disappointing. It was rushed, felt disorganized, and lacked the compelling storytelling that the rest of the book had had. But I do feel that Chainani ended the book in a good place. It sets it up really well for a sequel.

In conclusion, Chainani wrote a unique book but executed it poorly. Development isn’t executed well on all aspects from plot to his dynamic characters. Even so, I enjoyed reading this book and will definitely be picking up the sequel.

3/5 Stars

Cloaked – Alex Flinn (DNF)

Cloaked

Cloaked

Author: Alex Flinn

Publish Date: February 8th, 2011

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, YA

I’m not your average hero. I actually wasn’t your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.

It all started with the curse. And the frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.

There wasn’t a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I’ve ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Keys.

Don’t believe me? I didn’t believe it either. But you’ll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got CLOAKED.


Review

So disappointed by this one.

I read Flinn’s book Bewitched about a year or so ago and I really liked it. Beastly immediately went onto my tbr list and I’ve been looking for a copy of it at the library for a long time now. However, 100% of the times I’ve gone, they’ve only had Cloaked. I finally cracked and picked it up instead of praying that Beastly was there. It probably would have been more efficient to put a hold on it, but I keep forgetting to.

Now this book is classified as YA but I think it’s too childish. I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I had read it three years ago when it came out. The characters were badly developed and as a result, made the book seem more unrealistic. I know that it’s a fantasy and about magic and isn’t meant to be realistic, but what I mean by this, is that Flinn didn’t bring this story to life.

Johnny had potential as a character. He wasn’t your typical teenage boy, and unique in the way that he’s fascinated by shoes and aspires to be a renowned designer.

The problem was that he was so dumb.

He knows that there’s magic and manipulations throughout the story. He uses the magical cloak and headpiece for Christ’s sake! Yet what happens? He is tricked more than once by mirages and tricks of manipulation. People tell him multiple times that he shouldn’t trust everybody. But what does he do? HE TRUSTS PRETTY MUCH EVERY SINGLE PERSON HE MEETS.

“Oh you’re forced to live here and you want to visit your parents in North Carolina? I’ve just met you, but you seem trustworthy. Here’s a magic cloak!”

*gets kidnapped*

“Aw shucks, I shouldn’t have trusted her.”

And then after he gets kidnapped, he resumes to come up with the stupidest plans of escape that I have ever heard. In a real-world situation, they wouldn’t ever work, but since this is book-world, of course it does.

“I don’t stand up. ‘Look, I’ve got a plan. When they get here, they’ll have the cloak, a magic cloak that transports you wherever you want to go. Now that I’ve got your flashlight, I’ll be able to see them. I’ll sneak up in the dark, turn on the light, and grab the cloak. So I’ll wish to be someplace impossible to guess, like the football stadium, and then I’ll be there. I’ll hide out a while. They’ll never find me.'”Page 157

Johnny, ever heard of the fact that your enemies own ears too? His plan could go wrong in so many ways, but naturally, since this is book-world, nothing does.

Aside from how dumb he acts, he’s also extremely flat. All of the characters are. They are painted with certain personality traits, but none of them have depth.

Another problem I have with the book is the relationships. It’s mentioned many many times that Johnny’s best friend is Meg but their relationship is so painfully awkward and so unnatural. The things they do for each other aren’t like best friends would. A real best friend wouldn’t lie to his best friend about his super big adventure and then use his AWOL father to guilt trip her into not questioning him. At one point he feels guilty that Meg doesn’t have sunglasses so he doesn’t use his. Wouldn’t a real best friend offer to let her use them?

What type of friendship is this and how the heck is it supposed to develop into dating?! At no point is there any concrete, emotionally-charged moments where you can see that they are friends.

I stopped reading at about halfway. I could not take any more of Johnny’s stupid decisions and the terrible relationships between the characters.

1/5 Stars