Title: The School for Good and Evil
Author: Soman Chainani
Category: Middle Grade
Series info: Book 1 of The School for Good and Evil series
This book was #1 in my Goodreads TBR which means I added it back in 2013. I was actually in 9th grade then so I was very close to the target audience.
It’s a shame that it took me this long to actually read this book. If I had read it back then, I would have loved it so much more.
The book follows Agatha and Sophie who are two girls in a village.
Sophie is ambitious and wants to go to The School for Good to become a princess and marry her prince. Agatha is the ugly girl of the village who lives in the graveyard.
Sophie is kind to Agatha as part of her good deeds and according to her, Agatha is perfect for The School for Evil. Agatha doesn’t care about that though, all she cares about is her friend Sophie.
So when they both are chosen and whisked away, Sophie is happy at first. Until she is dropped at The School for Evil and Agatha is dropped into The School for Good.
The book follows them trying to go back home or switch places into what they think is the right school for them.
I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS BOOK.
It’s a shame that I didn’t get my hands on a copy of this back in school!
I got the chance to finally read this book as an audiobook as I have a Storytel subscription. And I’m so glad. The audiobook was really fun to listen to.
So let’s get to why exactly I liked this book:
- The concept.
In the book, there are two schools—one for Good and one for Evil. Students who graduate from these school become heroes and villains in their own stories respectively.
The author brought in students who are children of well-known heroes and villains from fairtyles as well as other acquaintances. The students have to do well in their classes in order to get high marks and get their own stories.
The book was super fun to read because of the concept. I imagined it all while listening to the narration and it was great.
- The moral.
Until Sophie and Agatha, all the characters were easily split into Good and Evil. There are easily distinguishable traits in students so there was never an issue.
It should have been the same for Sophie and Agatha but they’re put into the wrong schools which sets off the book’s main plot.
Sophie and Agatha showed how Good and Evil is not so clearly separate. A person can be both and just because you like pink, you’re not Good. You are divided based on morals and thoughts, not what you think you are.
This moral was subtly shown throughout the book. It definitely has something to teach to younger readers.
- The characters.
Sophie and Agatha were so fun to follow! We read from both of their point of views so we have a complete view of their adventures.
They are also complex characters without a straight moral compass. This clear but also subtle way of showing what truly matters as a person was brilliant.
The other characters in the book were interesting enough but they were not as interesting as our main characters.
- Friendship > love.
This book is more focused on friendship than love. The friendship in limelight is Sophia and Agatha’s but we also see other friendships in the book.
I loved the friendship focus. Sophia and Agatha have a complicated friendship which is tested during this book. It was interesting to see how they manage it all.
There is some focus on the love aspect but it’s mainly only to show how love is expected for Good students while Evil students are always alone as villains.
- Good vs Evil
Through this book, the author questions some fundamental things about Good and Evil. Why does Good always win? Why does Good get love while Evil doesn’t? Why does Evil have to be ugly in appearance? Why can’t heroes be ugly and villains be beautiful?
The questions I really loved were: why do villains have all the character while heroes are bland with some morals? Why does Good have no sass and cleverness? Why do they depend on love and companionship while Evil can do everything alone?
These are all questions that kids usually think about and question as they read fairytales. I questioned these things myself.
It was wonderful to see how the author takes these questions and spins a whole storyline around it. Some things are questioned and taken apart while others are answered through the story.
- The ending.
If this book was a true fairytale like the ones we all know of, it would end with the Good student finding love and winning over Evil. But this book turns things around.
I really like how the ending was different and showed the true meaning of a happy ending.
I won’t say anymore because spoilers.
If you are looking for a middle grade book to read or recommend, pick this! Especially if you’re recommending to middle grade or younger students.
I rate this book..
(would have been 5/5 if I was in the target audience because I’d have enjoyed it more.)