The School for Good and Evil #2: A World Without Princes

Book Information
Rating:  Significant Shortcomings
Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Soman Chainani
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9780062104922
Pages: 433

Agatha and Sophie are sent back to the School for Good and Evil when Sophie makes a wish for a different happy ending. However, because Agatha chose Sophie instead of her prince, the school is no longer how they knew it. Instead of good vs. evil, it is now boys vs. girls as the girls have decided that they no longer need princes, and the princes are forced to live in the forest instead of the school. The girls can now dress as they want and are taught how to be strong and self-sufficient, but also are taught that all men are evil. Agatha still longs for Tedros and to return things to normal, but realizes that she will have to choose between Tedros and Sophie again. Agatha needs to write “the end” on a new ending to get things back to normal, but first she has to decide what she truly wants.

The book’s messages about gender are confusing. Although there are some positive messages (dressing how girls want or wearing makeup because they like it and not to attract boys), characters who do that are sometimes shown as being silly. Worse, being put with the more extreme ideas could make those positive ideas seem negative or far-fetched as well. One of the major plot issues is that it seems that a girl cannot have a boyfriend and a best friend at the same time. Gender identity is also at question, with people of the same gender kissing, although it is unclear whether those kisses are romantic or otherwise, and what the book is trying to say about them is muddled. The book series continued to have strong characters, particularly in Sophie, who is someone that most readers are likely to love and hate at the same time, although her continued insistence that she is “good” goes on for a long time and seems to simply repeat the struggle of the first book. The book has intriguing ideas about fairy tales, but the messages of the book are too confusing and contradictory to carry the book.

*Contains suggestions of LGBT and gender issues