Monday, July 14, 2014

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

'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."

I've been wanting to read this book forever, ever since I saw the advance copy and somebody else got to it first. They finally lent it to me, so I promptly finished all five hundred pages in about two days. I think my opinion of each character changed quite a bit over the course of the book, because there was a lot of character development and change. A few of the more major and general points were pretty easily anticipated, but there was a lot going on in the plot that was unexpected or interesting. Though talking about the character evolution, at times I didn't really feel like investing or believing quite so heavily in the redemption path that some took. In other words, there were a couple characters that acted so rampantly... uhhh... self-centered or nasty or shallow (to use the polite phrases) that by the end when they'd stepped into their "new light," I still had a little dislike and skepticism nagging at the back of my mind. But that was just a few cases. For the most part I loved the changes and twists that essentially all the characters went through, working with the central questioning of the black-and-white categories of Good and Evil. And what had hooked me in was the premise, something really interesting that I don't think I've ever seen before. It was a really cool story to read, and I think overall it was done justice. The plot got really surprisingly complicated, in ways I didn't expect. It was a nice surprise to see more layers to it. I definitely enjoyed it a lot, and I know a lot of others have too. I'd very much recommend this if you're into fairy tales, or even any kind of fantasy. Four and a half stars. There's a copy at Blatchley.

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