Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Book Review/Trailer Tuesday: The School for Good and Evil

“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.   Quoted from Goodreads


Okay, and if that fabulous synopsis wasn't enough to convince you, you have to check out this trailer.  It is probably the best book trailer I've seen to date and got me excited for the book all over again.

Wasn't that just about perfect.  Seriously, if that didn't make you want to rush out and get the book right this second, well, this book probably isn't for you at all then, because I loved it.  I'm almost glad I didn't see it before I read the book because my expectations might have been too high.  Still, I'm including it because I loved it.

As for the book, it was also delightful.  It's a middle grade, but it's a long middle grade.  Almost too long, really, but it keeps you turning pages, making it impossible to put down.  Plus, it's an excellent spin on your classic fairytale set up.  It actually reminded me a little bit of Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles, where some things get turned on their head, but there were other things that played straight  out of a Grimm's fairytale.

Both Sophie and Agatha are delightful characters, and I really liked the way the author explored not only what makes a person good or evil, but the relationship between the two girls. While there is a handsome prince in the picture, it's the friendship between the two girls that is the backbone of the story.

I love Sophie's earnestness and drive to get what she wants. She views the world a very certain way, and even after obstacle after obstacle is thrown in her path, she keeps plunging forward towards what she wants.  Agatha, while a bit more practical and less self-assured, is just as dedicated, but her goals are different.  Sophie wants to be a princess, to marry a prince and live beautifully ever after.  Agatha wants to go home and protect her friend.  Both of them are willing to do whatever they need to to get what they want, but it leads them to becoming very different people, and I loved watching their journey.

Plus this book is funny.  I was totally cracking up at certain points, which made me glad I wasn't reading it in public (just a warning).  The role reversal was a perfect setting for some laughs, and the author absolutely explores that. 

Plus the supporting characters are excellent. Yes, some begin as your stereotypical cutouts, but most of them move past that as the characters relationship with them changes. And they're funny, interesting, disturbing, and creative.

Then we have twists and more twists.  Some of them I totally expected, but there were a  bunch I never saw coming, and I loved that.  The ending is an excellent mesh up of completed story and cliff-hanger, and I absolutely can't wait for the next book.  I'm really interested to see what happens to some of the characters now and how the author is going to keep playing with the themes of good and evil.  Plus, there's a bit of a mystery surrounding the Story Master himself, who he is, what he is, and the war that created him.

All in all, this is a strong 4 stars for me, with a good chance at being bumped higher.  It's an excellent adventure with an intriguing premise and good follow-through.  Really, the only problem is I have to wait until next April for A World Without Princes to come out.  Oh, it's also been optioned for a movie with Universal (I think the author is currently co-writing the screenplay), and I'm excited.  This could be excellent.

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