The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
Okay, so I got this book for Christmas from my cousins, so I was under obligation to read it.
I’m going to start this off by saying that this book is most probably written for people a lot younger than me, so you can’t expect me to be 100% pleased with it.
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…?
(Blurb for Goodreads)
This review will have some spoilers in it, but, to be honest, don’t worry about it because I wouldn’t recommend reading this book anyway.
I first read this book in maybe grade three of four, and after being given it again I thought, why not read it a second time?
When I started reading it, The School for Good and Evil seemed kind of bland, a normal fairy tale mix-up book, some of which I enjoy, some of which I don’t. Then, further in, I got the idea that it was telling you to be positive about how you look. After reading a bit more, I discovered that was not the case. The villains, who of course were all astoundingly ugly, were told by the only pretty villain, Sophie, how to make themselves pretty. Not quite the message I like, perhaps if she’d have shown them that looks didn’t matter, then that would have been cool. But no.
Second, I thought maybe it was about gender equality and showing that boys aren’t the only strong ones. It kind of did, in the end, but not really. At least that gets half a point. Tedros, the love interest, was all strong opinions and “protect the princess“. I think he was a bit of an a**hole. Whether or not he was meant to be like that, all the kids reading the book would see that the good handsome boys were supposed to tell all the girls what to do and to valiantly protect them. The protecting is okay, as in look after your friends and things, but I don’t think his character was a very good role model. All the girls care about is the ball, boys, and their looks. *sigh*
Last and most outrageous, the homophobia! I was really looking forward to one of the good bits at the end where Sophie and Agatha finally realise they’re in love, thinking I just forgot that along with most of the other events of the book over time. I did not forget it. This is a spoiler, so I’ll blur it:
On the last three pages, we get some very in love quotes, such as “only if I have you”, “You’re safe now”, and “I love you” (!!!) and then they actually kiss each other, (on the lips) only for it to end with a couple of quotes: “a princess and a witch…” “friends.” I can’t believe I read a whole book for a ‘they were only friends moment.
Another little thing: people were shocked at the idea of two boys going together for the sole purpose of not going with Agatha. I just can’t.
So yeah, I could go on forever and put in lots of quotes, but I don’t want to write an essay. If you did like this book, that’s great! Just take a minute to think about the messages this is sending to young kids’ minds and whether you agree with that or not. I’m not going to bother reading the next book to see if the messages change.
One last thing so that the review is not completely negative: Agatha started off as a pretty good character. She was a good who was ugly, she didn’t believe in girls not learning to fight, and she gave 0% of her attention to boys. A vast contrast that didn’t last until the end of the novel.
That concludes my rant.