A World Without Princes (The School for Good and Evil #2) by Soman Chainani

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Publisher: HarperCollins
Publishing Date:  April 15th 2014
Genre: fantasy, young adult
ISBN: 0062104942
Goodreads: 4.61
Rating: ★★★

The doors to Agatha & Sophie’ world open up once again in the sequel to Chainani’ The School for Good and Evil – A World Without Princes, the events of which pick up almost directly after the end of the first book, where Agatha chose to kiss Sophie – her best friend turned witch  instead of Tedros, her prince.

The kiss that revives Sophie has far reaching effects, as it not only alters the course of Agatha & Sophie’ tale but that of their world and the Fairytale world as well – altering the very foundations of the schools of both good & evil. Now instead of good & evil, the schools are divided among boys & girls, places where a witch befriends a princess, a henchman is the classmate of a prince. Where friendships are altered and new rivalries are created.

Chainani’ first book had little substance and a lot of crap as per me, and I had decided not to pursue the second book in the series however, when you have OCD of a sort, you can’t help yourself sometimes. As it happens with me, I need to finish a thing to completely put it behind me, even if it’s a book, especially books really. Once I start a series unless and until I can’t find the books or happen to have completely forgotten the existence of the book or perhaps having read it in the first place, I need to know the end of the damn thing and so I found myself reading the second installment of ‘The School for Good and Evil series’.

While in the course of time that it must have taken Chainani to get around to write the second book, he may not have turned magically into Rowling, he is improving, thankfully. There was  a gradual improvement in the writing department and a bit of a story here, which was seriously lacking the first time around.

Chainani is waking up to the fact, his characters need to have some challenges beyond the superficial ones to evolve and its showing off. Sophie’ character is growing beyond her narcissistic side and it was good to see her struggle, to not AWAKEN the witch within her, to be good and yet, yet finding it hard to tamp down the side of her that isn’t easy to repress.

Agatha, on the other hand was the weaker character as per me, I found it hard to believe a girl who was shown to be so intelligent the first time around, that she could easily land in the school of evil and be undetected for a large part of the first book was so uncharacteristically dull here. Not to mention, the fact that her longing for Tedros and yet being unable to accept that she does want to feel loved scored her no brownie points. Being good does not mean you should not want things, as per me. Rather being good in your heart I think entails knowing that you may want the world, but not always get it and be graceful enough to accept those things that you do get in the end and let go of what you don’t. Agatha, when not mooning over Tedros, was just hell-bent on one thing returning to her village Gavaldon with Sophie, not realizing that if the results of a wish she made, the first time around,having the best of intentions for her friend at heart could be this harmful, the consequences of doing so for a second time could be even more disastrous.

Tedros – ah what should I make of this chap? Really, he wasn’t impressive enough in the first book to me and it seems his role is equivocal to an eye candy this time around too. Yeah, he does transform in the wake of the events of the first book and was starting to FINALLY have some substance in the first half of the book, when things go south suddenly and …. well lets just say he never learns, not from his mistakes, nor from history.

Chainani, has added layers here that makes the second installment better than the first one. His writing sure has been refined a touch, and it seems he is finally pushing the envelope and developing the series into something that takes it beyond the group of a silly teeny-booper high school drama based in a fantastical world.  Yes, he has knocked down the frequency of Sophie’ beauty regimen, which featured excessively in the first installment, to a notch, Thank god for that.

The cliffhanger this time around was actually intriguing and will make many a jaws drop.

Perhaps there is hope for The School for Good and Evil series yet and it remains to be seen, will the balance that altered the ways of good and evil be restored in the last installment of the series.

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