Title says it all. The School for Good and Evil, the place where fairytales come to life, where villains learn to be wicked and princesses learn to be even more…princess-y? :-)
I'm not usually drawn to Middle Grade, but there was something about this one (might've had something to do with the fantastic cover). The school captured my interest, but the two main characters, Sophie and Agatha, were what sealed the deal. Sophie has prepared all her life to be a princess, wearing gowns and glass slippers. Agatha lives in a graveyard and wears all black. As one of her good deeds, Sophie befriends Agatha, visiting her house for daily walks.
You just have to look at them and you know which girl will be placed in which school.
But somehow Sophie ends up in the school for Evil, where her princess-y good looks and pink dresses make her an outcast. And Agatha ends up in Good, where in her black clothes and clumps…well…she's still an outcast. The two friends must rely on each other if they ever hope to get back home.
The friendship drove the story for me.
Of course, in a fairytale, you can have friendships. But it's usually good with good, evil with evil. I mean, seriously, you don't see Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy hanging out, do you?? (Although, I always thought if Draco could be a little less of a prat this could be an awesome friendship) Yet here are Agatha and Sophie--one supposedly good the other supposedly evil--and they're friends. Agatha admits this more often, but throughout the beginning and middle of the book, we see the two girls stick together and help each other.
Still, I liked Agatha a lot more. Part of it was b/c she had her priorities straight. Agatha wanted out of the school before one or both of them ended up dead, whereas Sophie just cared about finding her prince. Ugh. Agatha was always trying to protect Sophie. She didn't fall in love with Tedros (King Arthur's son, the big Prince on campus) simply b/c of his good looks. She didn't want a prince to save the day. Agatha wanted to save herself and her friend.
But I wanted both girls to succeed--until about the last 100 pages. This is where the book took a strange turn.
I thought the story would have the girls fight together and basically beat the system of having to be 100% Good or 100% Evil. But one of the girls ended up doing some really awful things, going waaay down the evil path. I won't tell you which one, but I will say I didn't really love this. I wish, like I said, that the story would've had the girls triumph together--which they kind of do in the end. But the way it happens…I just don't know.
Anyway, nothing compares to Hogwarts, but this school was pretty cool. I enjoyed the focus on friendship, the fun fairytale-themed classes. The idea itself was killer. A nice read and an enjoyable book overall!