The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil #1) by Soman Chainani

Published: May 14, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: MG Fantasy-Magic
My Rating: 4/5

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. 

I started reading this book thinking that it's going to be a light and airy fairy tale. I was delightfully surprised when it turns out quite the complete opposite. For a book that was shelved as an MG, it definitely didn't fit the suppose picture. It was a fresh change to have a fairy tale twisted into an unconventional pathway where the story line doesn't follow the Fairy Tale 101 Guidelines. Besides, the trailer for the book was amazing! It sent shivers down my spine! It looks magical and so out of this world. It held promises of an enchanting, dark tale of a fairy tale gone rogue. Watch this, you must! :D
“In the forest of primeval
A school for Good and Evil
Twin towers like two heads
One for the pure
And one for the wicked
Try to escape you'll always fail,
The only way out is
Through a fairytale.” 

When I first held the book in my hands, my inner 7 year old squealed in delight. I was expecting castles, beautiful princess, charming princes, woodland creatures and mythical creatures. The book also have a lot of beautiful and enchanting illustrations. It reminds me of the feeling I get when I was a kid, marveling at the beautiful illustrations in a book and then when I open the book, tingles spread through my fingers, straight through my hand as I stared wide-eye at the beautiful illustration of a princess dancing with her prince. This book also has a lot of illustrations. I absolutely love it. It helps to accentuates the events of the story and also provided glimpses into the fairy tale world.

I absolutely love the idea of the story. It was unheard of and never before told. I was intrigued by the idea of a school to train heroes, princesses and villains! The story also presented one of the conflict in the fairy tale world that is a trend when it comes to a fairy tale story where the Good battles against the Bad, which is to why villains had not win against the Good side for so long. I love that the author took that matter into account because I was wondering if this story is going to follow the same pattern. Fortunately, nothing in the telling of this story is conventional so I was not disappointed in the execution of that aspect.

As for the characters, there definitely was variants to their characteristic. Sophie was "supposedly" the good girl and Agatha fit right in to the image of a witch. So, Sophie was certain that she will get into the School of Good and Agatha will rightfully be in the School of Bad. But, when the opposite happened, it was truly exciting to see the reasons as to why it happened. It just goes to show that there's often only a fine line separating the good and evil side of us and sometimes, the line could be blurred and we are not even sure which side we are on. Also, the stereotypical image of a hero and a villain were also brought into issue in this book. Usually, when we think about villains the first thing that comes to mind are warts, pointy hats, crooked nose, hunchback and wrinkly skin to name a few. On the opposite, we think about everything good in beauty. This story proves that it can be quite the contrary. Agatha who was described as being ugly, turns out to be in the good side while Sophie who has been beautiful and perfect her whole life, was sent to the School of Evil.

Agatha wished to be beautiful. 

Sophie's supposed goodness because of her perfection reminded me of a quote by Leo Tolstoy. 

Of course, the very important element in a fairy tale is the hero, the warrior who have the destiny to
save his one true love from demise. Such heroes are often princes. Thus, this book was not devoid of a charming prince. In fact, there were a lot of princes in the School of Good. All vying to be the best prince and winning the hand of a lovely damsel. One special prince that plays a major part in the telling of this story is Prince Tedros who is the son of King Arthur. There was nothing special about Tedros that sets him apart from other charming princes in fairy tales. He did have more depth than what's originally thought as some of the chapters were told in his point of view so we definitely get to know a little bit of him and his thoughts. He is not outwardly interesting and I definitely do not have a care for him. To me, the story will be highly significant if he was not in the conflict of interest between the girls.

I also adore the teachers, the mythical creatures and the school ground! The teachers can be fun or eccentric and funny at times. As for the mythical creatures, there were a lot of them! There were every kind of creatures that can be found in a fantasy world. The school ground was amazing and sounds really fun with all the dangerous creatures lurking in the forest and palaces and a barrier separating the two towers. Just look at this map!

The story left nothing to be sought. Everything was perfect and all the correct issues were raised and implemented in the story. I only wished that Tedros, Sophie and Agatha interests conflicts weren't so apparent. Tedros change of heart also was easily foreseen. It seems like the author chose to follow one rule in the Fairy Tale 101 Guidelines about love conflict if there is more than one available damsels. But, it didn't turn out as I was expecting though, to my relief. 

The ending, I think, was perfection. I love how it all turns out. I am now very curious to find out what will happen to the school now that the sides between the two were blurred. This book is recommended to those who love fairy tale or re-tellings, fantasy and those who would like a different turnout to cliched fairy tale endings.
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