A World Without Princes , by Soman Chainani, was published in 2014 by HarperCollins. It is the sequel to The School for Good and Evil.
Spoilers for 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.
After reading A World Without Princes, I understand better what Chainani was trying to do with The School for Good and Evil in terms of his representation of the latter. The books are actually much more satirical or pointed than they appear; they’re satire without the normal satirical tone to them. I completely missed that in the first book, but the much more pointed and obvious dichotomy of boy/girl in this book was more startling and therefore Chainani’s goal was more apparent.
I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or punch the book while reading. I was both appalled and intrigued by the “sexist and reductive” (to quote one of the characters), not to mention highly stereotypical, portrayal of boy and girl in this book. And it’s also incredibly difficult to tell if Chainani is trying to make a point or if everything gets away from him in the end, since his tone is so hard to read, at least for me. I mean, the point of the story to me seemed to be “Girls can be like boys and vice versa, but not really because girls are girls and boys are boys.”
Also, although the ending of the first book was good (Girls don’t need boys to be happy), this one was…interesting. I’m expecting that it’s because Chainani needs fodder for the third book, but still, an ending of “You can’t have a best friend if you have a boyfriend” is…stupid. Sophie even voices this out loud in the form of a question (“Why can’t you have a best friend and a true love?”), so that’s why I’m guessing the third book will be answering that question in the affirmative. Because if not, then I really don’t like this book at all.
And I still don’t understand Agatha and Sophie’s friendship, although at least it’s slightly better than the first book. But still, both Agatha and Sophie are so selfish in their own way that it makes more sense that their friendship fails than that it remains strong (granted, Sophie was more selfish in the first book; but Agatha is the selfish one in this book, so they’ve been taking turns).
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Middle Grade
Sophie gasped. “Look!”
Agatha swiveled to the east path. A glowing blue butterfly flapped in darkness, high above the trail. It beat its wings faster and nosed forward, as if urging the mto follow.
“Come on,” Sophe said, suddenly strong again, and surged forward.
“We’re following a butterfly?” Agatha retorted as she chased Sophie past WANTED signs on trees ahead.
“Don’t worry. It’s leading us out of here!”
“How do you know?”
“Hurry! We’ll lose it!”
“You don’t know what I’ve been through—” Agatha heaved, puffing behind.
“Let’s not play who’s had it worse, shall we!”
A World Without Princes made me realize what Chainani is trying to do with these books, but either his tone or just his entire approach is still throwing things off for me. I was more annoyed by the representations of boy and girl in this book than anything, and the ending was awful and stupid. Agatha and Sophie are not winning over my favor and interest in their characters, that’s for sure.
You can buy this here: The School for Good and Evil #2: A World without Princes