In Gavaldon, children have been getting kidnapped for year, always in pairs, and always one beautiful and good child and more homely and outcast. No one knows where they disappear to but neither are seen again, and soon after the bookshop starts selling fairy tales with characters that look exactly like the missing children. This year best friends Sophie and Agatha are the pair taken. They soon find out that the previous kids had been taken to The School of Good and Evil, a school designed to train children to become either heroes and heroines or storybook villains. Sophie has always wanted to be taken and has devoted herself to beauty routines and good deeds and is convinced she’ll be in the School for Good. Agatha seems like a perfect fit for the School for Evil. But when they get dropped off at their new schools, Sophie is placed with Evil and Agatha with Good.
This is a middle grade novel, which I knew going into it, but the length of the book(almost 500 pages) had me hoping there would be a lot of twists and development. Sadly, I was able to predict the plot pretty early on and what development there was, seemed rushed. The concept was really interesting and even though the lessons in the book are ones so many books and TV shows try to teach that age group, it was still entertaining.
The book takes everything I dislike about fairy tales and amplifies it. By halfway, it was getting on my nerves so much that even if the ending turned out the way I’d hoped, it wouldn’t make up for it.
Agatha was the bright spot of the book, for me. She was the most complicated character and the one who grew the most, and the most realistic of the characters in the book. She didn’t want to be Evil but she never felt like she belonged in Good either; she looked nothing like the other girls and didn’t enjoy the beauty routines or think a kiss from a prince was the most important thing. Sophie, I tried to feel sympathetic toward since being dropped in the middle of Evil had to be terrifying, but she really annoyed me a lot. And it was hard to buy her development into top student and evil mastermind when she’d been so oblivious to everything before. I found their friendship, which is supposed to be a main part of the plot, more co-dependent than touching or genuine.
The plot moves along quite quickly for such a long book, sometimes too quickly as there’s a lot of things that seem to happen out of nowhere. We don’t get to experience the development, it’s just there. The teachers are mostly harsh and uncaring, until rendered pretty much useless. The school master gets about five seconds to explain why he chooses real kids from the village to mix in with the fairy-tale students. The ending is happening so fast that it’s hard to keep track of everything that’s going on.
The drawings in each chapters were a nice touch and the detailed descriptions gave a vivid picture to what the rooms, forest, and other areas looked like. Again, the concept is great and really intrigues me so I’m curious to where it’s going in the next book.
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