Review: A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani

May 5, 2014 4 stars, Book Review 26 ★★★★

Review: A World Without Princes by Soman ChainaniA World Without Princes by Soman Chainani
Series: The School for Good and Evil #2
Published by HarperCollins on April 15, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade & Childrens, Romance
Pages: 448
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
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My Reviews in this series: The School for Good and Evil

In the epic sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel, The School for Good and Evil, Sophie and Agatha are home, living out their Ever After. But life isn’t quite the fairy tale they expected.

When Agatha secretly wishes she’d chosen a different happy ending, she reopens the gates to the School for Good and Evil. But the world she and Sophie once knew has changed.

Witches and princesses, warlocks and princes are no longer enemies. New bonds are forming; old bonds are being shattered. But underneath this uneasy arrangement, a war is brewing and a dangerous enemy rises. As Agatha and Sophie battle to restore peace, an unexpected threat could destroy everything, and everyone, they love—and this time, it comes from within.

four-stars

A dream is a wish your heart makes
At the onset of A World Without Princes we find that Sophie and Agatha have been returned to their home village of Gavaldon and life has been far from what they expected. Initially they are welcomed back and heralded as heroic curse breakers of the missing children. Staues of them are erected in the town square and they have adoring fans. They are even about to put on a musical re-enactment of their time spent at school, to be written, directed and starring none other than Sophie of course. But soon the townsfolk love for them fizzles out, their fans no longer dote on them and their parents are working on each of their last nerves. To top it all off the townspeople’s love quickly turns to malice when the village is repeatedly attacked by unseen assailants that are after Sophie’s life when Agatha makes an unexpected wish.

A fairytale is but a mad dash thru the woods away
Thus escape and return our young ladies to the land of fairytale and their School for…Girls! and Boys!? That’s right – by ending their fairytale the way they did in The School for Good and Evil, a drastic change has been wrought upon all of the kingdoms in this world. Women have punted the men from their castles and princesses no longer wish to be rescued by princes, instead insisting on rescuing themselves. Women view men as obsolete, and men – well they are bedraggled and seething with anger at the girls that caused it all.

You bet your sweet…
The stakes are even higher than the last time around as all the boys and men are out for blood where Sophie and Agatha are concerned. They will stop at nothing to see the girls dead, especially Sophie.

There are some devious new characters with mysteries surrounding them and of course we see again all of the previous characters but vastly changed. We do however see somewhat of a repeat in behavior from Sophie and Agatha from the first book. Agatha is essentially moaning on and on about how they must go home and Sophie insists upon staying, with the expected flip flopping again. This is probably the one of the sticking points that I didn’t love. I also have to admit that while Agatha is normally my favorite of the two I found her insistent behavior about going home and her unwillingness to think about anything other than what she thinks is best, to be rather annoying this time? I would have expected some of the lessons she learned previously to have stuck to her better. Thankfully my annoyance didn’t last long. Another event we get to see again is the Trial by tale, but a much deadlier one.

I absolutely have to note that I experienced a whirlwind love affair with the first book, then why the 4 instead of 5 star? The School for Good and Evil was so new, so fresh – it gave me butterflies in my stomach and there was much oohing and awwing on my part over the plight of the characters and how it made me utterly nostalgic for my teen years. I saw so many of the behaviors reflected back onto everyday real people and this second book A World Without Princes still brings all of those things to the table. I started out all oodles of in infatuated with it and now it’s settled into a deep appreciation. Because of how much I adored the first book I built up these characters in my mind (particularly Hort) about how I expected and thought they would act and proceed. Thus when I returned to the world and they didn’t that altered my personal experience with them. I think many of us readers suffer from the “we know best” mentality thinking that we know these characters and they couldn’t possibly stray from what we had in mind for them. How Dare They!? Right? But ultimately we are reading the author’s creation and we’ve got to go with that flow and learn this story and enjoy it for the via the author’s vision, not our own. Ok maybe I’m ranting. I have to admit the only reason I felt I needed to explain myself was because of Hort. He’s a secondary character and some of you may not have the attachment to him that I do but he’s the one that brought on my rant and the character that I still smitten with though his characterization continued in a way I hadn’t anticipated. Ultimately,  these are going to be a set of books that I know I’ll be reading to my kids to help bring their young lives into perspective. So, some might wonder – does this mean you love the second book less? No, absolutely not. I still love it with a vengeance.

What do you see?
While the first book was asking readers to examine their beliefs on good and evil, right and wrong or ugly and beautiful; A World Without Princes takes that one step further by asking us to take a closer look at gender roles and even gender identity. I loved how open minded this made things. The author has a marvelous way of poking at issues in the best kind of ways. Yes, these are children’s books but the topics that are interwoven throughout the narrative are ones that will get even an adult thinking deeply.

A Note on Print vs Audio:  I have both read these as well as listened to the audio. If you read it then you’ll be treated to absolutely lovely illustrations at the start of every chapter. If you listen the narration is superb! The narrator brings these characters to life in a way that I haven’t experienced with other audio narrators. I highly recommend both formats – or you can be silly like me and do both.

Read my review of Book #1: The School for Good and Evil
Read my interview with the author

*gasp* This book was provided by the publisher! No worries though it’s an honest review and all opinions expressed are my own. Cover art displayed courtesy of the publisher. This post might also contain affiliate links. To view my full Blog Policy, click here.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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26 Responses to “Review: A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani”

  1. Melliane

    It’s interesting to discover that we can find many things in child books, mainly if you can see things that younger can”t. It makes me curious about that. Thanks for the review!

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      HORT! Oh Hort how I love him in the first book. I swear that he has some of the best lines in book one. He doesn’t pack as much of a personal oomph for me this time around but I think thats because of the difference in my vision of him.

      I’m so glad you have decided to read it. It’s such a sad and sweet fairytale.
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  2. BookaholicCat

    I love Agatha but she frustrated me in this book. I felt as if almost Agatha and Sophie switched roles… and after that ending… I’m sure planning to read next book.

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Yes they did, didn’t they. But you know I did feel like some of that flippity floppity-ness was repeated from the first book in the respect that in the beginning it was just Agatha that wanted to go home and then Sophie gets convinced that they must go home later. Except this time Sophie keeps with the decision that she just wants Agatha in her life. I still feel Sophie wants her for mostly selfish reasons because “she keeps her from being evil” I still absolutely love this trilogy.
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  3. Kirsty-Marie

    “Women have punted the men from their castles and princesses no longer wish to be rescued by princes, instead insisting on rescuing themselves.” Whoo!

    “Women view men as obsolete.” That’s more like it! Unless it’s Colin O’Donoghue. What you could do with a Colin O’Donoghue…Considering this is MG, I’m being pretty inappropriate. Oops.

    Have to say though, I don’t usually like MG (though I recently read The Eighth Day and really loved it) the series sounds pretty badass, even if it does have some issues this time around. At least it’s still a four! 🙂
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    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      This is middle grade that I totally know adults will enjoy. I had my local book club read it which consists of women in their 30’s to 65 age range and they all have loved the books so far. It has adult humor in the way that you know animated kids movies sneak in the adult humor you know what I mean?

      There weren’t problems with this one at all – I know what the author was trying to do by repeating some of the themes, I just had such a love affair with the first book that it’s hard to compare.

      I definitely recommend it! *you can be as inappropriate with me as you like *wink*
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    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      I totally had to both read and listen to the first and second books. The illustrations are so sweet and the narration is worth experiencing the book all over again for. It made it so much more muchy muchness.

      I remember getting the ARC of book 1 and seeing the rough sketches of most of the art from book one and even THOSE were amazing. They changed of course in the final printed version but I was so delighted to buy the final version and to see that they were completely fleshed out.
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  4. Kel

    The idea for this book sounds pretty cool, but I remember reading the first few pages of the first book some time ago and not being thrilled. I may have to track it down at the library for another go to see what it was that didn’t work for me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 🙂
    Kel recently posted…Discussion: The Comic NicheMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      You know if you didn’t like the print version I’d say listen to the audio sample on Audible and see if you like the audiobook instead. I adored both but I really think the narrator of the audio book did such a great job and that might make it more enjoyable for you. These definitely might not be for everyone cause they are just so boom in your face with some stuff but I adored them. So glad you are willing to try again!
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    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      I’m so excited to hear that you plan to read the books! No worries about not reading the review I know exactly what you mean by not wanting to read reviews cause it can influence how you might feel when you get to read it. But I love the your ooozed your enthusiasm over possibly reading it!!
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  5. YvonneJ

    I’ve read both books and loved them. This is the second review that I’ve read that the audio narration is great. Since I’m an audiobook fan, I think I’m going to see if I can get them on audio for Audiobook Month in June.