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The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Publisher's Synopsis: "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."


My Thoughts:
When you read the "about" page for author Soman Chainani, you will be impressed and it will make you think that writing anything critical about his work is futile. The School for Good and Evil already has a three movie deal (although the first book doesn't even hit the shelves until May 14, 2013).  Mr. Chainani has an MFA in Film from Columbia (my personal dream school), but that's not really enough....... He graduated Harvard with an English Lit. degree too! Wait, not enough?  His bio. page lists all sorts of awards and throws the likes of Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Lady Gaga out as peers (Read for yourself: HERE). So, saying what I initially planned to say is difficult. I write for fun, not a job.  I'm a reading specialist, a teacher, a lover of children's literature. I'm not a professional reviewer. What in the world do I have to add when the likes of Gregory Macguire (Wicked),  R.L. Stine (Goosebumps), and the queen of fairytales, Harvard professor Maria Tatar have all sung this book's praises?

The School for Good and Evil is a nice enough book. It has a great premise and the characters are quite likable.  I can think of many students and colleagues of which to recommend it. However, something was always "missing" in the story. It started strong, with a great background foundation, but once the protagonists are whisked into the fairytale world the story starts to tumble. The story idea itself is sound, but the execution seems more like a screenplay. It lacks a cohesiveness. Little details are missing. The final section is especially convoluted; I felt like I was reading in CG, waiting for the next big boom/crash/bang. I looked back several times to see if I had missed something, the plot moved so abruptly. Just when I thought we were headed to a tidy ending, this new scene is thrust upon us and the action starts all over. Again, more screenplay than literature.

So, though I lack the Columbia/Harvard advantage, I do make up for it in kidlit-superpowers. I will still recommended The School for Good and Evil for both middle grade library and classroom purchase, for fans of fairytales and for girls who like some action/adventure with their princesses. This is a book that will be both popular and engaging, but lacking in the literary merit to make it an education tool.

-------------------- Resources --------------------
Genre: Fantasy - Fairytales
Age: Middle Grade
Pages: 496
Themes: Friendship, Overcoming Adversity, Stereotyping, Strength of Character
Character Development: Fair to good, probably more developed in the sequels to come
Plot Engagement: Very engaging, action packed ending
Originality & Believability: Original in idea, Lacking in literary execution, weak development
Thank You: Harper Collins for my advanced egalley
Date: May 14, 2013
ISBN: 978-0062104892
BUY: The School for Good and Evil >>> HERE

Of course with all BIG releases there is a fancy webpage HERE and a fancy book trailer:






 -------------------- That's all folks! --------------------

© 2007-2013 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com

5 comments:

Melissa Fox said...

I have to admit that I was put off by his bio, the Harry Potter-esque premise, and the whole idea. BUT, both my 13 yo and my 9 yo liked it (though the 9 yo had HUGE issues with the kiss at the end). So, there's that.

Cheryl Vanatti said...

You are correct: I probably went in with some preconceived notions from those glowing reviews.

However, I'm sure we will see it on the CYBILS list come fall. Just not nominated by me ;-)

Cheryl Vanatti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brandy said...

I don't usually read reviews of books I haven't finished, but I'm only five chapters in and seriously considering DNFing it. I wanted to see some other opinions before I did to see if it gets better. I'm having similar issues with the book as you. I hate not finishing review copies, but this is starting to feel like too much of a "have to" read and not enough of a "want to". And I won't be able to use it in my classroom so...yeah.

Thanks for your honesty. It is nice to know I'm not alone.

Cheryl Vanatti said...

Yeah, it's been a tough go for me lately. Everything seems to be 'meh." At this point last year, I had two or three favorites and a couple 'pretty goods' too.

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