Review: A World Without Princes (#2) by Soman Chainani

Goodreads | Waterstones

After saving themselves and their fellow students from a life pitched against one another, Sophie and Agatha are back home again, living happily ever after. But life isn’t exactly a fairytale. When Agatha secretly wishes she’d chosen a different happy ending with Prince Tedros, the gates to the School for Good and Evil open once again. But Good and Evil are no longer enemies and Princes and Princesses may not be what they seem, as new bonds form and old ones shatter.

It’s been a few weeks since I finished this book, and I am unsure how to feel. I’ll be honest, these books have blurred into one a bit and I can’t quite differentiate them from one another. After a pretty strong first book following Agatha and Sophie, discussing female friendships, this one did let me down a bit. And I definitely wasn’t the only one.

We go into this book with a new challenge – the school has been split down the middle with girls on one side and boys on the other. Instead of the school for Good and Evil, it is pretty much the school for Girls and Boys. I’m sure we can see the problems emerging here.

It’s the problem with fairy tales. From far away, they seem so perfect.

I did still enjoy this book while I was reading it, but I had to overlook a lot of the gender issues to appreciate it. But this series does continue to be a solid middle grade fantasy in a lot of ways, and I did enjoy the magic elements and school setting. The audiobook was also brilliant in the narration.

I’ve seen a few reviews claiming that this book kind of feels like the author wanted to go in certain directions (with gender, sexuality etc), but didn’t feel like they could carry it out in a middle grade book. Which I agree with – especially as I was surprised by the mentions of kissing throughout the first two books when these characters do seem to be quite young.

But up close, they’re just as complicated as real life.

I have such mixed feelings about this book, as you can probably tell. I’m intrigued to see where the next one goes, but I can see why people have so many problems with this one after the first book.

3 out of 5 stars


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Review: The School for Good and Evil (#1) by Soman Chainani

Goodreads | Waterstones

With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.
The two girls soon find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good, thrust among handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.
But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are?

I’ve wanted to read this book for such a long time, since my good friend Pete told me how much he loved it after reading it in 2017. 5 years later, and I’m looking forward to meeting Soman Chainani at YALC in a few weeks time, and finally decided to pick up the start of this series. I actually read this first book on audio, and I really enjoyed the narration of it and actually found it easier to read than the physical copy.

I loved how this book existed in a world where fairytales are real and the two main characters find themselves in what was, essentially, a fairytale of their own. It made for quite a unique dynamic to the story but it still felt reminiscent of middle grade fantasy.

 “You’re not evil, Sophie,” Agatha whispered, touching her decayed cheek. “You’re human.”

The only big problem I had with this book was the fact it was told in third person, and I was quite glad to be listening to the audiobook because of that. The book often changes perspective, and I found it difficult to follow at times.

The best part of this book for me was definitely the female friendship between Sophie and Agatha, and I loved how they stuck together through everything. I was a little surprised by the amount of romance, but it was reminiscent of fairytales rather than YA/adult books.

Sophie smiled weakly. “Only if I have you.”

I don’t feel like I quite loved this book as much as many people seem to, but I did still enjoy a lot of aspects of it and will definitely be recommending it to children who are looking for a new fantasy read, and have already started listening to the second book in the series!

3.5 out of 5 stars


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