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Author: Soman Chainani | Website | Release Date: May 14th, 2013
Publisher: Harper Collins | Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale| Pages: 488|

Whoa, whoa, whoa. It’s a day to remember folks. I—yes me—read a fairy tale with a princess in it and liked it.

See, I have this thing where I’m not a huge fan of fairy tales unless they’re grim. Sure, I grew up with Disney, but then becoming an English major happened and now I over analyze them. And I think heroines should be strong.
But today’s featured story?!?! Awesomesauce. And I don’t throw that word around lightly!

I borrowed this copy from my local library. I was not compensated in any way for my review (cross my heart) nor did I promise a good rating. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted every Monday at author Shannon Messenger’s blog

Summary

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…?

-via book jacket

5 Reasons Why This Books is Marvelous!

  1. As I wind down from the semester I find myself ready to escape into some wonderful fantasy. (Which makes me think of something great grand and wonderful for next year….) In my MG Lit class this semester, we talked about the fantasy genre alot and how it’s often built around archetypes. Which, after reading so much fantasy for so long, I totally understand how archetypes (characters, plot, settings) are needed for a fantasy story. But I have different standards: maps and illustrations are my #1 need for a good fantasy story. I love using my imagination, don’t get me wrong, but when a book goes the extra step to help set up the story, I fall in love immediately.
    Needless to say, this little beauty is only the beginning of the fun in The School for Good and Evil.
  2. Dealing in archetypes, it’s hard for fantasy stories to have originality. But some do. I always applaud an author when their imagination blows up on the page, and I’m thrust into this wonderful world with something different about it–be it the characters, plotline, setting, or concept. Wowser you guys! The School for Good and Evil is a fairy tale, but it’s not your typical fairy tale. In fact, Sohpie and Agatha are swept away to this school where they learn how to become a fairy tale. WHAT?! Think Harry Potter in fairy tale land. It’s all about what happens at this school and how the students become Princes and Princesses or Witches and Evil Henchmen. I was amazed at Chainani’s imagination, and I just kept turning the pages to find out where he was taking me next. (And in terms of escape–the setting is beautifully done with rich detail. I was able to create this world in my imagination that was simply breathtaking.)
  3. This is one of those stories that I have to bring into the classroom because I think readers will not only be immersed in and swept away by this story, but there are some great thoughts (and hidden lessons!) on the importance of friendship. Middle grade is such a hard time for some kids–they’re transitioning, discovering, and probably dealing with aloneness. The School for Good and Evil reinforces how much we need friends, and that we’re all a little bit good and evil– but it’s up to us to figure out which side we’re on. No one can tell us otherwise.
  4. At times, this could be a daunting read. I loved it because the longer the book the more time I get to spend in the world– but it is almost 500 pages of story. I don’t think it’s too much for readers because there is nothing terribly “grown-up” or difficult about this story. Just a lot of pages. There were a few times where I found myself wondering why the story came back around to the same point instead of moving forward, or at least that’s what I thought. Chanani does a good job of bringing everything full circle and closes the story in a beautiful way. I think that this story is just one of those that will need a little extra encouraging as readers move through it.
  5. The ending that I’ve said is absolutely beautiful? Yeah, it’s not really the ending. So here I was, reading along, excited at how the story was seemingly closing, and it seemed a bit off to me when I finished the last page, but nothing that wasn’t filling. I thought, “Ok, it’s a bit ambiguous, but I like it. I get to decide what happens and yet, I still have closure.” Turns out The School for Good and Evil is PART OF A TRILOGY!!!! After I finished reading, I went to Goodreads to check my read box, and discovered book two has a cover and release day (April 15th, 2014):

This girl is extremely happy. A new fantasy series to escape into? I am so there.

must-readBook Talk: Have you read The School for Good and Evil? What do you think about fairy tales? What about the concept of becoming one? Would you be good or evil?

Hopeful reading!

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