Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 2353
It’s not always easy to tell Good from Evil.
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
This book is a prequel to the popular series, The School for Good and Evil, and introduces the balance needed between Good and Evil. Twin brothers Rhian and Rafal are School Masters for the two opposite branches, and everything will remain equitable as long as their love for each endures. Their feelings are challenged when Aladdin enters the School for Good, while they both agree he should have been placed in the School for Evil. They begin to question the Storian’s wisdom, and Rhian decides he can confirm the magic Pen’s decision by changing Aladdin to good. Things only go downhill from there.
The theme of the book continues to explore the balance between good and evil. Conflict arises when one believes it doesn’t possess any amount of the other. Even though motivations may be good, it doesn’t mean Good can do whatever it wants or that it’s always right. Evil needs to be present to point out fallacies or errors in judgment by Good. The problem explodes in the book when each side believes the neutral Storian is favoring the other, so they feel a need to “cheat” or look for advantages. While the absence of opposing views seems great at first, the characters sense a void in their lives that is difficult to fill.
The book includes several curious characters to make the plot more interesting, familiar, and unpredictable. Aladdin and his magic lamp are included early on, but his wish goes awry and begins his problems. An outsider named Vulcan uses his personality to seize an opportunity while the twins struggle to resolve their differences. Hook is destined to kill Pan in Neverland, but he’s still a student at a pirate school. He takes a pivotal role in the story later in the book. A young seer able to see into the future becomes a wildcard, as it’s a huge challenge to make plans against foes when a character already knows what will happen.
What didn’t work as well:
The conflict and plot seem to be resolved after the first three-fourths of the book, but then a new problem is presented, related but different. It seems like a whole new story is starting, but actually the original problem is brought to a more definite conclusion. I can’t say it will be happily ever after, but it provides a valuable lesson to the idea of good and bad people.
The Final Verdict:
It’s not always easy to tell Good from Evil. This thoughtful book is a stand-alone that precedes The School for Good and Evil. The characters have depth to them, as their actions, feelings, and intentions don’t always align. The concepts of good and evil are constantly at the forefront, and the lessons will leave readers reevaluating the differences between the two. I recommend you give this book, and the series, a shot.
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