The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani | Book Review

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good and 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 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?

How was it?

First, the way this story is told, and the writing style, seem very geared toward children and preteens, it is a middle-grade book after all, but some of the subtleties and complexities with which for example Sophie is written make me wonder if younger readers would notice those nuances. Some might not realize how performative and fake Sophie is for a big chunk of the book.

The second thing is I wished that Agatha, even if she’s shy and introverted, would have been a little more critical of her school. Being incredulous at what some of the things they’re teaching her. The same thing could be said for her friendship with Sophie.

The third thing this book seems to be criticizing is the fairytale clichés yet at the same time it falls prey to them, for example, the characters aren’t good or evil based on their actions but on their appearance. Agatha seems to be going against that but not really. I wished that “the readers” in this world would have had a stronger stance on those…archaic ideas that the fairytale people have.

This book is interesting, twisty, and kind of charged with fluff. It’s a little longer than it needs to be but there’s something there. It could have been more.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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