Monday, February 16, 2015

Flunked

Author: Jen Calonita
Info: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, copyright 2015, 256 pages
Netgalley - Release Date March 3, 2015

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): Cinder-ella-ella-ella-a-a-a-a (sometimes being bad can be good).

Would you send a villain to do a hero's job?

Gilly wouldn't call herself wicked, exactly...but when you have five little brothers and sisters and live in a run-down boot, you have to get creative to make ends meet.  Gill's a pretty good the (if she does say so herself).

Until she gets caught.

Gilly's sentenced to three months at Fairy Tale Reform School where all of the teachers are former (super-scary) villains like the Big Bad Wolf, the Evil Queen, and Cinderella's Wicked Stepmother.  Harsh.  But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there's more to this school than its heroic mission.  There's a battle brewing and Gilly has to wonder: can a villain really change?

~Goodreads Description

This was a Netgalley find with an awesome cover and a pretty cool premise.  I've been shelving Jen Calonita books in the Teen Room at my library for years, so I thought Flunked was a great place to dive into her storytelling.

Imagine Ella Enchanted and Disney's Sky High getting smoothed together for a fun, surprisingly witty fairy tale reboot.  Gill lives in an overcrowded shoe .  Her father is a cobbler who is known for creating Cinderella's glass slipper, but ever since "Ella's" fairy godmother has started duplicating pumps with her magic, cobbler business hasn't been great.  With so many mouths to feed, Gilly turns to thievery to make ends meet.  A bag of rolls here.  A locket there.  And finally she's been caught by the Dwarf Patrol, Princess Snow's police squad.  Three infractions are enough to banish Gilly to the Fairy Tale Reform School (FTRS), where Ella's evil stepmother is attempting to transform the wicked into royal loving citizens.

But trouble is brewing at FTRS, and some villains just can't be reformed.

Calonita has created a fun world that turns the fairy tales of old on their nose.  All of the Princesses we've come too love are in one kingdom with Cinderella as the leader.  There are creatures of all shapes and sizes (including gnomes which is oh so awesome) inhabiting the land of Enchantasia, and if you love the royals, it's all a good time.  But not everyone loves the royals.  There's definitely a sense of haves and have nots which sets the scene for Gilly's illegal tendencies.

This is definitely a middle grade title.  Not that that's a bad thing.  In fact it was refreshing to have a story set in a school without a lot of regular teenage drama, just real drama with evil magical villains. Calonita is quick to bring in the action and keeps it going throughout for a fast paced story.  The story ends with the school under attack and the Royals attending an anniversary ball, but the "final battle" is rather abrupt for all the build up.

There's definitely a opening for sequels which I wouldn't mind at all.  If you're a fan of fairy tales and a lot of witty, clever fun, check out Jen Calonita's Flunked (Fairy Tale Refrom School).



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