Thursday, July 25, 2013

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

Release Date: 5/14/13
Author: Soman Chainani
Publisher: Harper Collins
Provided By: My Lovely Library
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.

Soman Chainani is the author of THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, the first book in the epic fantasy trilogy for Harper Collins that will hit bookstores in Summer 2013. The series will be turned into films by producer Jane Startz (ELLA ENCHANTED, TUCK EVERLASTING), and Soman will pen the scripts for the films with screenwriter Malia Scotch-Marmo (HOOK, ONCE AROUND).

Soman is a graduate of the MFA Film Program at Columbia University, and the recipient of the school’s top prize, the FMI Fellowship for Writing and Directing. His short films, DAVY & STU and KALI MA, have played over 150 international film festivals, won over 30 jury and audience awards, racked up over 1,000,000 YouTube hits, and secured distribution in over 100 territories. His writing awards include honors from Big Bear Lake, New Draft, the CAPE Foundation, the Sun Valley Writer’s Fellowship, and the coveted Shasha Grant, awarded by a jury of international film executives. He was also nominated for a NewNowNext Award, sponsored by MTV.

Before joining the Columbia University film program, Chainani graduated Harvard University summa cum laude, with a degree in English & American Literature. While at Harvard, he practically created his own Fairy-Tale major in the English department and wrote his thesis on why evil women make such irresistible fairy-tale villains, winning the Thomas Hoopes Prize and Briggs Prize for his work.

His recent projects include the musical MUMBO JUMBO for Aardman Animation, THE PUSHCART WAR for JSP, WEDDING HOUSE, a dramatic series for Tiger Aspect Productions in the UK, and his first feature film, LOVE MARRIAGE, which he will both write and direct.

When he’s not telling stories on the page or on film, Soman is a die-hard tennis player and fan. Competing in tournaments around the world, he never lost a first-round match for ten years…until he started writing THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD & EVIL.

Now he loses all the time.

This amazing trailer is the reason I bumped The School for Good and Evil to the top of my TBR list! Check it out!

 The School for Good and Evil is marketed as a Middle Grade novel and in many ways it is just that...and in many ways it is not. Sure, the premise of the book is a twist on the fairy tale genre, but the relationships (friendly and romantic) are straight out of high school (so, too, are the rivalries, pressures and prejudices.) Do I think a MG reader will enjoy The School for Good and Evil? Sure. But I think fans of YA can sink their teeth into this tome with equal veracity.
So, the scoop goes like this: Sophie and Agatha live in a storybook village (literally). Sophie is a beautiful young girl who longs to be a princess one day. Agatha is a snarky, not so gorgeous, young girl who longs to be left alone (except when Sophie comes to visit since she is Agatha's only friend and brings her treats.)
Through a mysterious set of circumstances, the girls are stolen away in the night to the School of Good and Evil. Comprised of two sections (Good vs. Evil), the school is in the business of training new heroes and villains. Although it seems obvious on the surface to which school each of our heroines should be sent, the opposite occurs. Sophie finds herself surrounded by skulking villains and Agatha is stuck with preening princesses.
What happens next is an interesting take on superficiality, the bonds of friendship, self-confidence, true beauty and love. The School for Good and Evil reminded me of a mash-up of Harry Potter, Gossip Girl and Grimm's fairy tales. This book is not a breezy fairy tale the cover might lead you to believe it is. It gets dark, people are betrayed and people die.
This book was not at all what I anticipated when I picked it up. I was surprised in the best way. Although sometimes alternating between predictability and crazy plots twists, overall The School for Good and Evil was a fun read that I couldn't put down.



  1. My friends said the same thing about the content of this book! I also hadn't seen the trailer until now and it makes me want to read now even more. I will pick this up sometime or another but thanks for the review!

    1. Isn't the trailer awesome? I really liked this book and am excited to see where the series is headed.



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