My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Finally, a new twist on the idea of fairy tales and princesses! Chainani blends humor and cliche with a fresh setting and plot. In Agatha and Sophie’s world, children are kidnapped by the School Master and taken to a school that trains them to either be good or evil. Blond, fair Sophie is thrilled to be one of the kidnapped kids from her town. Her dark, brooding friend Agatha is taken as well, but both girls are surprised when Sophie is sent to the School for Evil instead of the School for Good. What ensues is a bumbling adventure through both Good and Evil’s campuses that at once embraces and mocks the cliches of traditional fairy tales. Now the two friends have been pitted against one another in the ages-old good vs. evil battle and the only thing that’s certain is it will be one wild competition. Fairies as campus guards, a two-headed dog/wolf as bickering professors, and the mysterious School Master make for a delightfully adventurous and funny romp on a new path through familiar territory.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and just began the second book, The School for Good and Evil: A World Without Princes. Polly Lee’s narration of the first book is brilliant; I keep hearing her voice in my head as I read the second.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Childs and Deebs have created an interesting world where super powers are real and a daily part of life. Kenna’s world begins to unravel when three villains break into the supers’ secret lab looking for a fellow villain they believe the supers have kidnapped. Kenna refuses to let the villains win, but in the process she puts herself in danger. Much to her surprise, a villain saves her life and everything she’s known about her world begins to disintegrate. When her mother turns up missing right after Kenna bends the rules to learn the truth about the supers’ secret lab and experiments, Kenna must go against everything she thinks to be true and team up with villains to save her world and her sanity.
Childs and Deebs world of supers and villains is like something out of a comic, but with an almost mob-like feel. There are super families and villain families who are the power players in this world. The authors do a good job of infusing this world with a realistic, self-doubting narrator. Much like teens’ perceptions of the world, Kenna views her world as black and white: supers are good and villains are bad. It seems straightforward. But in the same way teens become adults and realize there is no definite line between good and evil, Kenna begins to realize this about her world as well.
Kenna’s character is frustratingly naive, but it works because so many teens are just so. The cliche of the bad boy with a good heart is a little tiresome, and it was fairly easy to predict that Kenna is not nearly as powerless as she’s been told her entire life. There is plenty of action and the character development is done well. With this being the first book in the series, Childs and Deebs have left the readers at a nice impasse to wait for the second book. I’m eager to see how this one plays out.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It took me a while to get to this book even though I had heard buzz about it for almost a year. I also have a hard time ignoring a striking cover and this one is gorgeous.
Tarver and Lilac’s story is somewhat cliche: the poor little rich girl gets stranded with the self-made war hero. Tarver does the expected survival skills smorgasboard and Lilac has the appropriate “girlie” reactions as her expected inner strength and adaptability develop. While the dialogue is appropriately filled with snarky banter, there were a few times it felt stilted. It smooths out as the story progresses and even though readers might expect to have a hard time connecting with archetypes they’ve seen a hundred times before, the connection between Tarver and Lilac seems genuine in the end. Kaufman and Spooner did a good job keeping the story moving when there are only two speaking characters for the majority of the action. In the end, readers will be invested in both the characters’ relationship and the outcome of their situation.
Just when it seems trite, the setting and premise of the book quickly kick it out of the cliche category. Reminiscent of Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan or Across the Universe by Beth Revis, this space opera does not disappoint. The existence of space colonization and cross-galaxy travel make for rich world-building. The idea of terra-forming strange planets to make them habitable opens up so many possibilities for this series. That’s one of the things I like most about the first two books. Different worlds with different climates and different assimilation struggles make for an endless store of possible spinoffs.
I was disappointed that the second book, This Shattered World, seemed to be about a completely different set of characters. But as the story progressed, realized that the story arcs crossed paths and it’s made me highly anticipate the third book in the Starbound trilogy. The plot of the second book was more original and puts a twist on the surprise element from the first book. I’m interested to see how the authors bring everything to a close with the third book, Their Fractured Light.
Overall a good choice for sci-fi and romance fans.
BRIDGE BOOKS: This book could easily be paired with some more traditional titles to address the archetypes and plot schema used.
Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy