Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

The School for Good and Evil
(The School for Good and Evil #1)
by Soman Chainani
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

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.

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.



I don’t often tend to read middle grade books but this one sounded so good and the cover is awesome. Plus, I don’t know if you’ve seen it or not but the book trailer, which is something I usually roll my eyes at, is amazing! So, I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this book to check it out and finally my library had an audiobook version available. Which, if you know, you know that I’m still new to the whole audiobook scene. I just have a hard time with certain narrators and stories. I need to be engaged but not so engaged that I end up sitting on the couch in a catatonic state. Basically, no mysteries or any story that you need to be paying attention to fine detail. I can multi-task but not that well.

“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 fairy tale.”

The School for Good and Evil follows Agatha and Sophie as they are kidnapped from their homes and brought to the school for good or evil. Basically is a school for kids to learn to be their true selves, either villains or heroes. They are given tasks and are tested to see where their ranking is among the other students. Students who fail disappear, and students who thrive get their own fairy tale. Sounds pretty straight forward and normally Sophie and Agatha would embrace their new situation but there’s one problem. Sophie, who’s been primped, pampered, and is destined to be a princess is placed in the school for evil and Agatha, who is the exact opposite of Sophie, is placed in the school for good. Pretty soon, Sophie’s in raggedy clothing, her hair’s a mess, and she’s being ridiculed by her classmates for being too pretty. Meanwhile, Agatha is too frumpy, too ugly, and too anti-social to be a princess. She finds herself an outcast from both the princesses and the princes.

While this is a middle grade book, I did find that it was also entertaining to read as an adult. There are some darker moments and some underlying things going on that gave it just the edge it needed to not be too light and sweet. It kind of took what we all picture a fairy tale to be composed of, and it made you question a lot of things instead of just seeing it in black and white. Now, I know this is getting a lot of flack for being too image driven and how the story line revolves around being pretty, ugly, or getting “the guy,” but it’s a parody of fairy tales. What older fairy tale didn’t revolve around being pretty and getting the guy? Cinderella and Ariel had to change their physical appearance to become “beautiful” and “acceptable” in order to get the prince’s attention and love. Aurora and Snow White needed some creeper dude to come upon their dead-like bodies and kiss them in order to bring them back to life and thus marrying them and having a HEA. Granted, the original stories for some of these aren’t quite as happy or PG as Disney portrayed them. All I’m saying is, this story took those basics that we all know from fairy tales and it gave you a new perspective on how it all began.


Favorite quote…

“It’s the problem with fairy tales. From far away, they seem so perfect. But up close, they’re just as complicated as real life.”





9 Thoughts on “Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

  1. I’m like you, I don’t really read MG but sometimes they are so entertaining. This one sounds like fun and I like that it took the darker edge. Hm… I may have to try this one and then gift it! 😀

  2. I don’t think I’ve tried a Middle Grade book as of yet, but I think if I did I’d do it in audio format. I’m glad it wasn’t too light/sweet

  3. Thanks for the great review, it does sound interesting.

  4. I don’t really read MG anymore, but Someone recommended this to me a couple years ago. It has just been sitting on my wishlist ever since, though. I should give it a try.

  5. I wouldn’t have picked this one up on my own, Kristin, but it sounds like a really neat and creative update to fairy tales we’re all familiar with. Hugs…RO

  6. I had actually heard there’s a twist on the whole looks thing and that it was good representation on that front.

    I have the second book but not the first. I’ve been kind of waffling on whether I want to read it or not though.

    For What It’s Worth

  7. Sounds like a lot of fun and a great palate cleanser, one way to look at it.

  8. I never heard of this before. It has been ages since I read a middle grade book. I do like the sound of this one.

  9. I love the anime/manga vibe of the cover!
    A middle grade book? That explains it *wink.
    I’m glad you enjoyed this one Kristin 🙂

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