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The School for Good and Evil's awesome cover belies the unawesomeness within

When I first saw the cover for Soman Chainani's The School for Good and Evil, I got very excited because 1) I love books for 10 to 12 year olds; they are my jam, and 2) It looks like a Swan Queen high school AU.


For those of you somehow unaware, Swan Queen is the ship I have shipped for MULTIPLE YEARS NOW. It's Emma Swan and the Evil Queen (get it?) from Once Upon a Time. It's the worst and the best thing to ship, mainly because the OUAT writers are experts at queerbaiting, which is....just not ok, guys. But anyway. Swan Queen alternate universe.

(GIF by shipsnthenight)

The reason books for 10 to 12 year olds are my jam is because the most interesting plots usually come out of them. You don't have silly talk about boys, there isn't a need to be Literary that manifests itself in trying too hard ("the dusky ambrosial night swept across the meadow like a swift-wing├Ęd starling"), and the author can just focus on plot and being occasionally funny.

Series that have excelled at this in the past decade or so:

A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Spiderwick Chronicles
Percy Jackson
The Mysterious Benedict Society
The Books of Beginning

I hoped this book would add to the list, as it is most definitely a series (the second book, A World Without Princes, is now out and a third will come after it), but I found myself primarily bewildered and dismayed by it.


It seems like the author wanted to go in about five directions with his characters, but finally said "Whatever" and just turned in the draft as written. "True love will exist between friends!...oh, but I want this one girl to fall in love with the guy." "The evil girl learns about friendship!...oh, until five seconds later when she decides she hates her friend again." Every time something changes, it's immediately reversed again and it ends up being a case of why bother.



The plot sounds awesome: There are two girls, one blonde and social and fairly selfish but knows what she wants, and the other black-haired, introverted, lives in a house next to a cemetery. Their village is surrounded by a forest, and everyone's scared of it because either every year or every four years (I read this a while ago), this figure comes out from it and takes two children. But where does it take them? TO THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL. And, as we learn, it's the school that trained Jack AND the Giant, Cinderella AND her stepmother, Little Red Riding Hood AND the wolf. 

So the blonde girl and the black-haired girl both get taken, but their schools get SWITCHED, meaning the blonde girl goes to the School for Evil and the dark-haired girl goes to the School for Good (still unclear if this was on purpose), and everyone's all "This has completely upended our way of being" because blonde girls are good and dark-haired girls are bad (and those of us in between get to pick and choose). One of the most frustrating things about this book is this concept could have been done so well. SO WELL. And instead I'm just over here like




This could have consisted of amazing world-building and complex characters, and instead everyone's changing their motivation every two seconds and first someone is good, then they're bad, then they want the boy, then they don't, then Friendship Conquers All, then Maybe Kissing Does -- I cannot do this. I cannot BELIEVE it has 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon or a 3.93 on Goodreads. 

Someone write this book better.

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