I enjoyed the sequel to The School for Good and Evil, and felt that it continued the innovative tone and complex themes of the initial novel. The story begins with Sophie and Agatha in their village again, a few months after their dramatic return at the end of the first novel. The author smartly passes over the villager's reaction to their miraculous return, as this is not a focus of the plot and could absorb a lot of narrative space, instead just explaining it in exposition and dialogue between the girls. By the time the story opens, the villager's are used to their presence and have moved on, despite Sophie's attempts to cling to her small moment of fame. Part of her driving motivation is the upcoming wedding between her father and Honoraria, which she adamantly opposes. When her nightmares start to return, and Sophie fears her evil side emerging, she decides to be good, no matter what the cost. She even pretends happiness at the marriage. Her only anchor in all of this emotional turmoil is Agatha, and Sophie embraces her friend with the emotional loyalty that Agatha once displayed for her. Agatha, however, is struggling though her own conflicted feelings. She chose Sophie, but she misses Tedros, and wonders if she made the right choice. Sophie's incessant presence, something Agatha once wanted above all else, is now driving her crazy. At the wedding, Agatha wishes for her prince. She is surprised to discover her finger burning with magic, which shouldn't be possible in this world, and quickly squashes the thought, but it's too late. The connection between the magical world and their village is reopened, and the village is viciously attacked by unknown assailants who demand Sophie's return. Agatha and Sophie eventually do return to the school they fought so hard to escape, after undergoing a few harrowing experiences. However, the school is no longer divided between good and evil. Both buildings have had magical makeovers, and are now deemed the School for Girls and the School for Boys. The girls learn that they are heroes to the women of the fairy tale world. After they chose to end their story by declaring that they didn't need a prince, an upheaval ran through storybook land. Women wanted to stop being damsels in distress. They kicked out all the princes, and began training as warriors. The men rallied behind Tedros, who was consumed with bitterness over Agatha's choice, and decided that he just needed to kill Sophie to get his princess back. Both genders have taken matters to extremes (hardly a surprise in a polarized world), and are filled with hatred for the opposite gender, preparing themselves for an all-out war. Basically, when the lines between good and evil dissolved, the people found a new criteria to divide themselves, and threw themselves into their opposed sides with a vengeance. Agatha is horrified, and as in the first book, she operates as the reader's point of view with a more balanced, intelligent perspective. She recognizes that the women have taken things to an unhealthy pitch, and tries to explain that she meant nothing of the sort when she chose Sophie, although of course no one listens. Sophie, however, is delighted. She finally has the fame she craved. Also, she figures that a world with no men is the perfect way to keep her hold over Agatha. As their friendship is strained with these new developments, other old friends weigh in with their opinions. Lady Lesso and Professor Dovey are in agreement with Hester, Anadil, and Dot that Agatha should kiss Tedros and fix the mistake of the past. Beatrix and the other princesses, though, support Sophie and are calling for war. While this is complicated enough, the new headmaster of the girls' school is mysterious and sinister, and seems to have her own agenda for the girls. For a fantasy novel, I find Chainani's works complex, but in a good way. This novel deconstructs the old fairy tale world, by taking the classic archetypes from the originals and digging into modern complexities inherent in such roles. In the first book, he explored the dichotomy of good and evil. One of the messages was that no person is so simple as to be purely good or purely evil. Now, he is exploring gender roles. I have read other reviewers who feel that this book is a dig at feminism, but I don't see that in the novel at all. Instead, the story examines what happens if you take gender identification to extremes. Not that they all behave like "girls" or "boys", but they embrace their gender as the only valid possibility. The girls are more independent, yes, but they devalue anything typically masculine and hate boys. The boys, likewise, eschew anything feminine with a heightened aggression and hate girls. To me, the point being made was that people are blends of feminine and masculine traits, that each person is a little different in this make-up, and all expressions of gender are valid. As in the first book, no person is purely good and evil, so in this book, no person fits into a female or male construct. Also, such constructs are different depending on who defines them. The character Yuba encapsulates this theme, with his special ability and his story about Merlin. In addition to the complicated central story about girls and boys, the relationship between Agatha, Sophie, and Tedros occupies much of the narrative real estate. The dynamics between the three of them are intriguing, and this story just added more tangled relational lines. Sophie and Agatha have both loved Tedros; whether Sophie's feelings in the first book were real is debatable, but in this novel she shows a true depth of affection. Tedros fell for Sophie, got over her, fell for Agatha, and discovered a different kind of affection for Sophie as a boy while still being in love with Agatha. Agatha despised Tedros, and then fell in love with him, before choosing Sophie over him and then wishing she had taken Tedros instead. I grant that the author seems to be tiptoeing around the issue of homosexuality - what is going on between Agatha and Sophie? - but this complaint aside, I like the crazy tensions set up here. I definitely am eager to see how everything plays out in the trilogy's conclusion. I am invested in all the characters, not only the main trio, but many of the side characters, as well. I am a fan of the twists and turns of Chainani's fast-paced plots, and I enjoy sounding out the themes presented in his novels. Now I am just waiting to see if the final story wraps up the multiple narrative threads in a satisfactory conclusion.
The School for Good and Evil #2: A World Without Princes (Paperback)
Arrives by Thu, Jan 23
Ships to San Leandro, 1919 Davis St
- ISBN13: 9780062104939
- Publisher: HarperCollins
- Publication Year: 2015
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 512
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About This Item
In the New York Times bestselling sequel to Soman Chainani's debut, The School for Good and Evil, Sophie and Agatha are back in Gavaldon, living out their Happily Ever After, but life isn't quite the fairy tale they expected. Now with a beautifully redesigned cover!
Witches and princesses reside at the School for Girls, where they've been inspired to live a life without princes, while Tedros and the boys are camping in Evil's old towers. A war is brewing between the schools, but can Agatha and Sophie restore the peace? Can Sophie stay good with Tedros on the hunt? And whose heart does Agatha's belong to--her best friend or her prince?
Soman Chainani has created a spectacular world that Newbery Medal-winning author Ann M. Martin calls "a fairy tale like no other, complete with romance, magic, humor, and a riddle that will keep you turning pages until the end."In the New York Times bestselling sequel to Soman Chainani's debut, The School for Good and Evil, Sophie and Agatha are back in Gavaldon, living out their Happily Ever After, but life isn't quite the fairy tale they expected
- ISBN13: 9780062104939
- Publisher: HarperCollins
- Publication Year: 2015
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 512
School for Good and Evil
|Number of Pages|
|Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)|
9.00 x 6.00 x 1.50 Inches
This was an interestin...
This was an interesting twist in Sophie and Agatha's fairytale. I didn't enjoy it as much as the first one but it was still a very fun read. I was not expecting the twist at the end, I'm now waiting impatiently for the 3rd book in the series. Thank you, Julie, from Pages and Pens for reviewing this series I wouldn't have found it if you hadn't talked about it on your channel.
Sophie and Agatha are ...
Sophie and Agatha are back at the School for Good and Evil, but the events when they last departed have divided the schools by gender: the School for Girls is run by the vaguely menacing Dean Sadar; Evers and Nevers are no longer enemies so long as they're the same gender; and the School for Boys is more or less anarchy personified. Once again, Agatha and Sophie are torn between their love for each other and pretty much every other aspect of their lives: boys, school, family, friends, etc. I'm still enjoying the series, but I do become quite reflective about what it says about gender roles and sexuality. In some ways it seems to be awkwardly heteronormative but then again, perhaps not? I'm curious to see if this series is going anywhere in particular. This book, much like the last one, has both a definitive ending and a slight cliffhanger. It's like, "yes, I know this chapter is over, and that's fine, but what happens next?" Which I suppose is what you want in a series, so long as the last book doesn't end that way.
Once upon a time, two ...
Once upon a time, two girls kidnapped from the sleepy town of Gavaldon by the mysterious Schoolmaster. One was perfect and beautiful, thought to be destined for the School of Good, while the other was an oddball and an outcast from birth, sure to have been a shoo-in for the School of Evil. But pretty Sophie with her flawless features and dreams of princes and pink dresses ended up being dumped in Evil, while strange, frumpy Agatha landed in Good! Together, the two friends discovered the truth behind this apparent mix-up, and learned more about each other and themselves along the way. They worked to escape the clutches of the sinister Schoolmaster and made it back home to Gavaldon, but the adventure is far from over. As you can probably tell, there were a couple of really heartwarming messages in the first book of The School for Good and Evil series, as befitting a novel more suitably aimed at Middle Grade readers. "Beauty is only skin deep" and "Believe in yourself" are only a couple examples, woven into a unique and magical fairy-tale style story. This sequel, however, is a bit more complicated and a little more twisted. Once again, Sophie and Agatha find themselves back in the land of princesses and witches, princes and henchmen. But gone are the Schools for both Good and Evil, and in their places are the School for Girls and School for Boys. Some major changes have taken place since the two girls left; new alliances have formed while old bonds have broken, and now boys and girls are locked in a bitter war. The fate of the schools and this world rest on Agatha and Sophie and whether or not they can find their Happily Ever After. So A World Without Princes was a fun read, but I also can't deny that this sequel has lost some of the magic that made me fall in love with the first book. Story-wise, it was a little rough around the edges, with a plot that seemed to meander needlessly in several places. Friction and misunderstandings and between the two main characters feel forced, prolonging the conflict without adding anything new. Unlike its predecessor, this second book didn't read like it had a clear direction or a main theme it was drawing from, and the storytelling was very uneven with long stretches that felt monotonous in some places and plot developments that felt like they came out of nowhere in others. A World Without Princes is also much darker in tone compared to The School for Good and Evil. I'd hand the first book to a Middle Grader without a second thought, since it was at once ridiculous and full of heart, cute with just the right amount of wickedness to enchant readers of all ages. On the other hand, the second book would probably give me pause. The more mature themes and violence in this would likely not bother Adult and Young Adult readers, and it's certainly not a negative to me personally as I was reading this, but it's still enough that I'd hesitate to give this book to a 8 to 12-year-old, which I think is the age range most publishers are traditionally using for MG guidelines these days. There's mild torture, descriptions of images that involve a mother drowning her child, scenes of boys and girls talking about and relishing the idea of killing each other, just to name a few examples of things that that might be disturbing to younger readers. As they say, reader discretion is advised, in the end use your own judgment to decide. In spite of it all, I love the characters, I love the premise of these books, and I still enjoyed myself a lot. Agatha and Sophie are precious, and I just can't get enough of them, their shenanigans in this novel notwithstanding. There are still many moments of whimsy and humor that author Soman Chainani does so well, and plenty of scenes brought smiles to my face. Ultimately, I really want to find out what will happen to these two friends, and the repercussions from the climax and shocking conclusion to this book are sure to be significant. "Happily Ever After" hasn't come yet, and I'm definitely not going to give up on this series until "The End".
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