Genre: middle grade, fantasy
First published: 2013
Author: Soman Chainani
Synopsis: The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.
This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains.
Finally getting to review this, 100 years after I read it. I am so behind with reviews. I’m behind with life, really. I need a nap.
Anyway, this was a really cute book. But I don’t feel like I have a lot to say about it other than that. I mean, I enjoyed it. Just not as much as I thought I would. And I’m not sure why. I liked the characters. The story was fun. I didn’t have a problem with the writing… I don’t know why I didn’t like it as much. It may have something to do with the fact that i read it while travelling, so I wasn’t as immersed in the story. Or maybe just the state of mind that I was in at the time was incongruous with the book. I don’t know.
What I can tell you is that it has a fun plot and fun characters. Although both the story and the characters are very cliche, it’s an exaggerated cliche, which gave me the impression that it was done purposely to make a point about cliches. Like, Sophie was the cliche of a princes: beautiful, golden haired blah blah blah, and yet she turned out to be the ‘evil’ one. Which in itself is a cliche. So yeah, that was fun. Playing with cliches like that.
I couldn’t really connect to the story or the characters though, and again I’m not sure whether that’s because I was travelling, or just read the book at the wrong moment. But I am interested in seeing where the story goes, though I think I will have to wait for a time when I’m in a different mood, because my current mood just doesn’t seem to fit with this story.
I liked the theme of friendship that was at the heart of this story and that’s one of the things I love about middle grade. YA is often so focused on romantic relationships, it overlooks the even more powerful and important bonds of friendship, and that was well explored in this book. I felt like it was even a little tongue in cheek towards that particular trend in YA.
All in all, I liked this book, I thought it was cute and I am interested in continuing with it at some point in the future.