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The School for Good and Evil Paperback – April 15, 2014
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The School for Good and Evil Reading Playlist by Soman Chainani
One of my goals in writing The School for Good and Evil was to give the book new energy from chapter to chapter, so you never feel like you're in the same place twice. For each of the 30 chapters, I'd pick a book (sometimes a piece of music or an article) that I remembered loving as a child or adolescent and obsessively reread it until I put the chapter to bed. None of the books had explicit links to The School for Good and Evil -- in fact, most of them aren't even fantasy. But in the end, I realized I had a 'playlist' to my own imagination, at once light and dark, good and evil.
Compiled between April 2011 through March 2012
1. The Princess & The Witch
Mary Poppins, P.L Travers.
2. The Art of Kidnapping
Peter Pan, JM Barrie
Music Video: "Oh, Father" (Madonna, Like a Prayer)
3. The Great Mistake
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
The Bad Beginning, Lemony Snicket
4. The Three Witches of Room 66
The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith
The Steampunk Bible, Jeff Vandermeer
5. Boys Ruin Everything
Interview with a Vampire, Anne Rice
6. Definitely Evil
The Witches, Roald Dahl
7. Grand High Witch Ultimate
The Magicians, Lev Grossman
8. Wish Fish
9. 100% Evil
The Magician King, Lev Grossman
10. Bad Group
The Hobbit, JR Tolkien
11. The School Master's Riddle
The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman
12. Dead Ends
Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
TV: Downton Abbey, Season 1
13. Doom Room
14. The Crypt Keeper's Solution
Room with a View, EM Forster
15. Choose Your Coffin
16. Cupid Goes Rogue
Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil, John Berendt
17. The Empress' New Clothes
18. The Roach and the Fox
Auntie Mame, Patrick Dennis
Auntie Mame Around the World, Patrick Dennis
Madonna Style, Carol Clerk
Music Video: "Express Yourself," Madonna
"Viva Donatella," Lauren Collins. New Yorker. 9.24.07
19. I Have a Prince
Lord of the Flies, Wiliam Golding
20. Secrets and Lies
21. Trial by Tale
And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie
22. Nemesis Dreams
The Secret History, Donna Tart
Music Video: "Bedtime Story," Madonna (Bedtime Stories)
23. Magic in the Mirror
The Line of Beauty, Allan Hollingshurst
24. Hope in the Toilet
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
TV: Downton Abbey, Season 2
26. The Circus of Talents
27. Promises Unkept
Blindness, Jose Saramago
Music Video: "Frozen," Madonna (Ray of Light)
28. The Witch of Woods Beyond
The Crucible, Arthur Miller
Music Video: "What It Feels Like For a Girl," Madonna (Music)
29. Beautiful Evil
30. Never After
The Alienist, Caleb Carr
Music Video: "Falling Free," Madonna (MDNA)
With overtones of Wicked, and shaped by the world of fairy tales, comes this story of two girls plucked from their village to attend the School for Good and Evil. Pretty (on the outside) Sophie has been hoping for the schoolmaster to take her to a place where she’ll become the princess she always imagined herself to be. Homely loner Agatha is the other chosen girl, someone Sophie befriended in an effort to show off her “goodness.” But their arrival at school leads to a shock, with Agatha placed with the Evers (as in happily ever after) and a distraught Sophie stuck with the creepy Nevers. So begins a tale that sees both girls fighting their fates—and at times each other—as they search for an ending that will encompass all that they are and what they’ve learned during their Grimm adventures. The terrific cover will draw readers in, the premise is a winner, and both Sophie and Agatha are strong characters. However, this is sometimes overwritten and repetitive, dragging the narrative down in places. But those who like their fantasy laced with fairy tale will surely enjoy it. Grades 6-8. --Ilene Cooper --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The residents of the small town of Gavaldon are all raised on fairy tales, and they all believe them to be real. Every four years, The School Master takes two children over the age of 12 and one child is placed in The School of Good and the other Evil. It's been four years.
Sophie, lover of pink and a self-proclaimed princess, dreams of going to The School of Good and meeting her Prince and living happily ever after. Agatha, lover of black and silence and solitude with her cat, isn't quite sure if she believes in the schools but she knows if she was destined to go there would be no better place for her than The School of Evil. Sophie and Agatha are best friends and when both are chosen for The School's, it comes as quite a shock when their placements are switched. Agatha is definitely not Good and Sophie can't possibly be Evil...
What worked for me: The writing is vibrant and extremely visual with alternating POV's between Sophie and Agatha which provided the reader with a glimpse of both schools through their eyes. Sophie was quite an unbearable character but I do believe that was the purpose (and only solidified her position with The School of Evil). Agatha managed to become the real heart of the story and a truly good person. Both girls struggle throughout the story to retain their friendship due to the constant stereotype that Good can't possibly be friends with Evil.
What didn't work for me: The story was excessively long and would have benefited from some additional editing. Also, once I got the gist of the backwards type fairy tale going on it did become a tad predictable. I understand that it was a Grimm-type fairy tale and was dark and malevolent, but I really hated the way Sophie treated Agatha considering they were supposed to be best friends and considering Sophie was Agatha's only friend. The biggest flaw in my opinion was the ending though. It was so strange and seemed a bit out of left field. There's 'didn't see that coming! wow what a shocker!' and 'didn't see that coming because that doesn't even make any sense.' I requested this book solely because of that fabulous book trailer so my expectations were high from the start. This wasn't a disappointment but it didn't live up to my high expectations.
Truer to a Grimm Fairy Tale rather than Disney, The School for Good and Evil was intense and distressingly amoral yet still contained what all fairy tales possess: a valuable lesson. One surety about this book, there is truly nothing like it. The School for Good and Evil is a fairy tale that's been shaken up; it's all backwards and mismatched but still manages to retain at least the structure of the classic fairy tale that we all know and love. If you're a fan of fairy tales (especially of the Grimm nature) then this is a story for you.
Villains learn how to monologue, princesses are taught how to talk to animals and how to beautify themselves, while princes are taught how to be valiant and sword fight. The book, of course, mocks some of these classes. In one part, the main prince couldn't come up with a rejoinder to a princess and instantly started a sword fight with one of his classmates instead.
Sophie and Agatha are well-written and it's fun to read what they will decide to do next to get to what they believed were their proper schools. And since I have never even seen a book like this before--the closest probably being Harry Potter--each attempt was a complete surprise. I was even surprised at the ending, but it was fitting as well.
All in all, I would definitely recommend this YA fairy tale to anyone who enjoys these kinds of things. It's a fairy tale with a definite twist, some of it dark, but all of it great fun. I will reread this book in the future and I know I will enjoy it again as much as I did this time
Sophie is everything you picture "Good" to be an Agatha is everything that might get stereotyped as "Evil". The start of the book is a bit confusing, because it feels like you're dropped into the middle of an action film and you have no idea what's going on or which way to turn. Even as I read deeper into the book, I felt there were always chunks of information I was missing to fully understand what was happening. In the end, I felt far more for Agatha's character, because Sophie annoyed me right from the start.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Your book stinks.
Good luck on the movie. Surely it can't be worse than the book