I’ve been so busy with work and real life, that I haven’t had a chance to post here in a while. One of my most recent read is the MG book The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani and I think you’ll like it.
Beautiful Sophie and homely Agatha are best friends living in a small village in the woods. Every four years two children are taken by the Schoolmaster, one child good the other evil, to be taken to the School for Good and Evil and one day take their place as fairy tale characters. Sophie is sure this is their year and that she will one day by a princess and Agatha a witch. She’s only half right. When the day comes for the children to be taken, Sophie and Agatha are chosen, but Sophie is taken to the School for Evil and Agatha the School for Good. Both girls are sure they were taken to the wrong school, even their classmates think they are in the wrong place. That is until they start to excel at their respective schools. Soon both the girls and their classmates are questioning which girl is Good and which is Evil. And when the boy Sophie thinks is her Prince keeps choosing Agatha in class challenges – albeit much to his horror – will Sophie’s jealousy tear them and the school apart? Or can their friendship withstand the ultimate test of Good vs. Evil.
This book has gotten a lot of praise for challenging the images of a princess and villain. It soon becomes clear that Evil and Good don’t always look they way we think they should. The book also challenges the notion that a princess needs a prince to save her, and that romantic love is the key to saving someone. Like Frozen with its sisterly bond saving the day, it is another type of love at stake here, the love between best friends and whether a friendship is strong enough to stand the ultimate test: jealousy and betrayal.
I loved the world building here, although it could use a bit more to solidify it. The nods to various fairy tales and legends helped to paint a picture of a world where fairy tales are real and lived every day. For fans of Once Upon a Time (I’ve been a Oncer since the first episode), this book fits right with some of the same themes brought up in the show about fighting for those you love no matter what.
I have heard that the sequel falters, but since I haven’t read it yet, I can’t pass judgement on the series as a whole. But as a start to a new series, I think this one was great. Perfect for girls around 12-14 looking to move away from “kids” books but who aren’t quite ready – or whose parent’s aren’t ready for them to be ready – for the love triangles and darker themes that can be found in YA today.
Four Lightsabers for this one.