Review of The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)The School for Good and Evil
By: Soman Chainani
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: May 14th 2013
Source: Purchased

My Rating:

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…?

My Thoughts:
I’ve been reading more middle grade books lately and enjoying them for their action based plots and lack of romance. I was excited to begin The School for Good and Evil because I’ve seen many mentions of this book in the blogosphere. I love the cover and overall I found this to be a highly enjoyable book. I will say that there were some glaring issues that I had all of which have to do with how the book was ended. Because of that I can’t really go into the details but I felt that Chainani missed an opportunity to delve deeper into what makes someone good or bad and if people are ever really just one or the other. Since this is a series, I’m optimistic these themes will be looked at further in the follow-ups.

I felt that the world building was strong, especially in the beginning. I loved how clear the descriptions were and how easily I could picture the world and characters. I felt things were set up clearly and the pacing was fairly fast. I will say that at some point the pacing did slow down but I was never bored. I enjoyed the reading about the dynamics of the school and the different classes the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ kids took. Everyone was used to people falling into either good or evil leaving no one in the middle. I thought it was fun to imagine a world set up like this and how it would look if a school were to teach fairy tale characters how to live their story.

Our two main characters both grew and developed as the story progressed and I enjoyed watching their dynamics change. They impacted those around them and I found it entertaining to read about how they changed the secondary characters. Overall I felt that aspects were fairly predictable but this was expected in a middle grade book. Where this book shined to me was in the friendship between Agatha and Sophie. I loved how things were never clear-cut between them but they were able to work through things and grow together. I felt that this was the heart of the story and I really enjoyed reading about them.

Final Thoughts:
The School for Good and Evil was a story of friendship at its core. I loved the vivid details and imaginative world building Chainani created. His mix of typical fairly tale lore with his own creativity was delightful and fun to read. Though I felt that the ending was the weakest aspect of the book I am still incredibly eager to read the next in the series.

The School for Good and Evil Book Trailer:

A World Without Princes (book 2) Trailer:


  1. says

    I’m glad you ended up enjoying it! I’ve been in the middle of this one for a year and I haven’t found the motivation to finish it yet. Something about it just didn’t grip me. I want to finish it eventually though, mostly because of the amazing trailers XD

    • says

      Oh, I hate it when I get stuck mid-book and can’t be bothered to pick it back up. Sometimes I try to restart it and if it can’t pull me in I give up 🙁 I hope you can regain interest.

  2. says

    Great review Kristen 😀 I am glad you ended up liking this book; despite not loving it. <3 I am hoping to read it soonish. I hope you will love the sequel more 😀 And yay for liking the main characters and their friendship. <3 That is always good. Thank you for sharing. <3

    • says

      I’ll be curious to see what you think since you tend to read more MG than I do. I hope you really enjoy it. So far the ratings for book 2 have been pretty great so I’m optimistic that the second will be even better.

  3. says

    I put book 1 beside my nightstand to hopefully get me to read it and read it soon, but that was like a month ago, LOL. Maybe if I put it actually on the bed, so that moving it is a deliberate action . . . Anyway, I’m glad you’re still liking this series, and I REALLY hope I’ll be reading it soon too.

    • says

      I know how you feel! I have many books that have been on my bedside table collecting dust. When the pile is large it’s hard to make it through them all. I hope you enjoy this one when you get around to it.

  4. says

    This book sounds like it has a very interesting premise, showing that preconceptions are not accurate. Hopefully the next book will improve on the ending that you didn’t like as much.
    Great review, Kristen!

    • says

      I’ve not read a lot of MG but I’ve been reading more lately and I’m enjoying them. Nice palette cleanser once and awhile. I think you would enjoy this one.

    • says

      I have not seen the artwork–I’ll be heading over there in a sec and checking it out. I enjoyed this one and think it is worth the read. I hope you enjoy!

  5. says

    I just purchased this one and I can’t wait to read it! It looks really cool, and sometimes I do need a middle grade book without romance as well. I’m glad the world building and friendship were really good in this one. Awesome review, Kristen! 🙂

    • says

      Thanks Aimee! I look forward to reading your review on this one. I hadn’t really ventured into MG until recently and find that there are some really beautiful stories out there.

  6. says

    I loved reading your review! I felt much the same way as you did about this book. I actually just finished its sequel, A World Without Princes, last week. Although I preferred this one over AWWP, I still thought it was a fun, quirky, and engaging read. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the second book once you read it!

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