At the School for Good and Evil, failing your fairy tale is not an option.
Welcome to the School for Good and Evil, where best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she'll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.
The two girls soon 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 among 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 and Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.
©2013 Soman Chainani (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers
The imagination in this book is full of dark, cruel, and horrific images. The story itself was uncomfortable for me because it exaggerates the feminine stereotype of the shallow girl who is evil due to her overemphasis on looks and the "ugly" girl who is admirable for her values and for being herself. I would never recommend it for children or even teenagers. But if you're an adult who loves fantastical horror, this might be a good choice for you.
I would, with the warning that their intro to school is a little slow, but once they are there things are dark and brutal and rather messed up in a way that is often times shocking. I know this is a kid's book, but I sometimes thought it too dark for kids. At times, it often felt like a fairy-tale setting Lord of the Flies, as far as a certain characters spiral into madness. It is a very good and interesting book though. I couldn't stop listening, despite some flaws in the pacing.
I love all the moments when Agatha and Sophie choose each other, though Sophie is a TERRIBLE friend, she does care about Agatha, and that always shines through her petty, shallow, and selfish demeanor. She's still terrible, but you want for her to be better. Agatha is an AWESOME friend. God, I was so proud of characters are several points in this book, like when Hester invited Agatha to be her guest at the No-Ball, and students put aside their differences, when Evil helped Good. Ugh. Loved it.
I have not.
If I could have, I would have.
The book ends as if at the end of the chapter, rather than the end of the book. You want to keep flipping to find out what happens and you can't. It's a cliffhanger ending in a way, so that it and the next book are actually just one big book.
Entertaining, exciting, fun
The imaginative plot and the development of the characters. Polly Lee is a fabulous narrator and really brought this book to life!
We bought this book to listen to on a long family trip in the car. Both of my children were enthrall and didn't want the story to end. My husband and I also found the story and narrator to be excellent. This story is very reminiscent of Harry Potter with lots of action, a blurry line between good and evil with the added element of princes and princesses!
I think the narrator, Polly Lee, really sold this story. It was good to begin with, but Polly was able to use distinct voices for each of the characters, conveying their ups and their downs well.
I don't want to spoil the whole story but there is a moment where Agatha begins to understand her place in the world and it is fantastic.
Polly Lee is capable of creating voices, both male and female, and actually making them sound individual. They are not rehashes of other voices. There is a character that speaks with a lisp and Polly Lee captures that perfectly.
The School of Good and Evil is an interesting book - what is essentially a riff on fairytales ends up being a straight adventure story lacking any of the morals upon which it is based; as such, it ends without making a point and contradicting itself and the characters throughout. Less demanding readers will read it as a simple tween romp and enjoy it as such. But more demanding readers may be frustrated by the lack of point of view by the author.
Story: Agatha and Sophie live in an isolated village in the middle of a forest. Every year, the 'headmaster' of the School for Good and Evil comes and takes two children in the night to be students in his school. Sophie eagerly wants to go: she's sure she'll be a fairy tale princess. Down to Earth Agatha, however, finds the whole thing pathetic. When both girls are taken to the school, Sophie ends up in the school for evil (to be a witch) and Agatha lands in the school for princesses. With both girls sure they are in the wrong place, how will they survive their schoolmates long enough to get back to their village?
Most of the book is a fish-out-of-water story of each girl dealing with the horrors of their situation: beautiful Sophie with the farting/warted/dowdy evils and grounded Agatha dealing with the vain and superficial princesses. There should be a lot to mine here and a lot to be said about not falling into the cliches of either group. But somehow nothing is really said - is Sophie evil in her heart? Is Agatha really purely good despite her frogs and antisocial behavior? Are the princesses, with the callous and selfishness, really good? And are the evils really born that way or made so through cruel treatment? The answer ends up muddled in each of those situations as the story mostly concerns Agatha trying to get home and Sophie stymieing her. Even a point that neither is wholly good or wholly evil fails to materialize in this muddled plot.
In listening to this Audible version (in which the narrator did an excellent job), I kept feeling like there was going to be something deeper than the shallow story on top. The story really lacked nuance, depth, and especially a POV by the author to make this really work for me.
I loved the premise and the undercurrent that fairy tales would not be a nice place to live at all, but though the book starts out well enough it quickly becomes a muddled mess, looping in on itself without any coherent theme. It seemed to be trying to tell all possible stories that could have come from the premise at once instead of deciding on one. Is the point that people aren't good or evil? Is it that good and evil are both necessary and need to be in balance? The book seems to waver between believing good and evil are binary or useless ideas, between thinking Sophie is helpless and needing direction or an extremely powerful mastermind, and so on. The tacked on cliffhanger exemplifies the book's confusion. It's not setting up an overarching plot line, it's just failing to figure out what the end goal should be and how to determine if the characters are succeeding.
Also, why is everyone surprised at the concept of a beautiful, vain villain? They reference the story of Snow White. It should be a plausible idea.
I liked the idea that there WAS a School for Good and Evil. And I spent a long time wondering WHICH school I would be in... bwa ha ha
Agatha because she may not have looked it, but she was actually good
Her performance was OK but could have been more dramatic
No it was too long and other books were calling!
I'm waiting for the sequel since the ending was definitely a cliffhanger!
This book was a big departure from the normal kids/YA fare. The story was strange - not bad, exactly; just different. The performance was good, but the story was hard to follow.
"A mismatched friendship, trial by fairytale?!"
This story tells the tale of two very different girls being kidnapped and swept away to the infamous School for Good and Evil.
The legacy; two children over the age of 12 are chosen from the town of Gaveldon every year (one undoubtedly good and the other undoubtedly evil) and are taken by the schoolmaster, never to return, with only the lucky ones appearing years later as, bafflingly, characters of fairytales.
With Sophie and Agatha separated, they must understand and overcome the ways of Good and Evil in order to be re-united and return home, because there are more to fairytales that meet the eye and not all of it's about twinkling tiaras and magic broomsticks...
This is captivating to listen to because I'm so keen to find out what happens to the unlikely duo next after constant setbacks to their rashly built plans! The storyline is unique, interesting and completely changes the way fairytales are portrayed (in a deliciously upturned way!), which makes you question whether fairytales have been written right and what happens to those that don't make it into the stories, not to mention if the friends will ever get home in one piece.
Brilliant story. Have read book and listened to it. It's really difficult reading aloud as long chapters. Audio book allowed my child to go at the pace she wanted which was the whole story as quick as possible and not wait for me to do 1 chapter a night.
Loved both Sophie and Agatha. So perfect and yet so wrong.
Agatha and Sophie are both performed equally well.
Disney meets St Trinians
Fabulous Story. I hope there is a sequel.
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