Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Audiobook review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Book Summary
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.

Flo's Review
This has literally been on my TBR list for the longest! I met the author at YALLFEST several years ago and got this book signed. Then I put it on my shelf. Then I heard it was going to be a movie (is this still true?), so I told myself to bump it up on my TBR. But it still sat on my shelf. Then at last year's Miami Book Fair, they had a great sale on the books in this series, so I went ahead and got the next two, and got them signed. All three sat on my shelf. Finally, my book club made this our August read, so I dove in.

I'm not 100% sure how I feel about this book. I think it's a 3.5 stars, but a solid 3.5. Like, I don't want to round it up to 4 stars, because I don't know that it warrants that for me. I enjoyed it as I was listening to it, and I thought about it at times when I wasn't listening to it. But it just felt short of, "I love this!" I'm not really sure why.

A lot happened in this book, y'all. A. Lot. It felt like so much action was packed into 488 pages. This may be because it's a middle grade book and so there's less of the teen angst and introspection and more of the big action. I never came to like Sophie. Agatha was alright. 

What I liked most about this book was the creativity. I don't know the story of how Soman came up with the idea for this series, but it reads like he might have started with this one idea -- "Hey, what if there was this fairy tale school with 2 sides: good and evil" -- and then everything built from there. The world building is fantastic. I loved seeing all the tiny details and thought put into what made Good good and Evil evil. 

For all my indecision on how I feel about it, I did immediately download and start book 2. I'm setting it aside for now so I can read another trilogy for an upcoming author signing, but I may actually flip back and forth between those books and these? Or maybe I'll come back to these when I'm done with those? However I do it, I don't think I'm done with the School for Good and Evil quite yet.

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