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Sunday, March 22, 2015

ARC REVIEW- Flunked Fairy Tale Reform School by Jen Calonita

Would you send a villain to do a hero's job? An exciting new twisted fairy tale series from award-winning author Jen Calonita.

Full of regret, Cinderella's wicked stepmother, Flora, has founded the Fairy Tale Reform School with the mission of turning the wicked and criminally mischievous into upstanding members of Enchantasia.

Impish, sassy 12-year-old Gilly has a history of petty theft and she's not too sorry about it. When she lifts a hair clip, she gets tossed in reform school-for at least three months. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there's more to this school than its sweet mission. There's a battle brewing and she starts to wonder: can a villain really change?

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Fact one: The title is misleading, just saying.

It's no secret I am not a big fan of Middle-grade fiction. But the premise of this novel (and that I could read it on my phone for free) drew me in. It's a pretty imaginative simply read with a bunch of throw backs to fairy tales, which I am always a fan of. However I didn't care for the MC, Gilly. She was pretty whiny and full of herself. She steals to help her family eat, is cocky and gets caught. SHe also talks back to EVERYONE and when she gets sent to the fairy tale school she gets in a ton of trouble right from the start.

One of my biggest issues with this book came from a very socially conscious part of me. I didn't like that when the headmistress found out WHY she stole, it didn't make a difference. This wasn't a girl who was becoming a villains, this was a girl who didn't want her four younger brothers and sisters to starve. Not just that but EVERYONE in their little town knew how poor they were and NO ONE helped. So it kind of fell apart for me there. I get there is poverty and some people don't have what others do. However, in a land with magic being ruled by girls that had their own hard knocks, you would think someone would go, "oh hey that family who is starving and living in a boot? Let's give them some help." Gilly's second oldest sister was always a pain in the butt, she gets angry at Gilly for stealing and then when she realizes that was the only way they were eating (and getting her pretty things like hair clips) she gets pissed when Gilly won't come home from school at the end and help out. The end of the book also had a moral feel that I didn't like. a very: "Doing things the easy way isn't the right way" feel. Says who? just because something is easy doesn't make it wrong either. Oh well, I digress.

The plot was pretty basic, evil brewing in a villain reform school, high jinx ensues...."Which of the reformed villains isn't quite so...reformed?" It was pretty obvious which one was the true baddie, though I did enjoy how the author reimagined the Sea Witch...pretty funny.

Then Gilly, with the help of three other students, stops a really bad (not just faking it at reform school) from killing all the royalty and taking over the kingdom. When I say she had help, what I really mean was she had a boy she kind of liked and two female friends kind of just following her around while she was awesome and did everything. Which for me was hard to get behind. I have an eleven year old daughter, so the idea that this 12 year old girl fought evil, defeated evil and saved a whole school was kind of far fetched. Then I thought to myself, "but you believed it in Harry Potter, why is this different?" Well as I pondered this I came to the conclusion that while Harry was likeable and interesting, Gilly wasn't and in the end it all came down to the writing. Harry Potter is written beautifully, this is only so so.

While this book wasn't the worst, it wasn't the best either. I enjoyed it, rolled my eyes a few dozen times, and finished it in a day. Maybe my daughter would have liked it more.

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