A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
A World Without Princes explicitly plays with the conventions of familiar fairy tales and urges readers to challenge the assumptions they bring to the material, especially in regard to gender roles. Readers will recognize versions of favorite characters from folklore, but with a fresh twist.
The characters in A World Without Princes spend much of their time worrying about whether they're working for Good or Evil. But the story demonstrates that people are not simply good or evil; they are human and contain a little of each. The important thing is to strike a balance and be true to yourself and the ones you love, without obsessing about how your behavior might be rewarded.
Positive Role Models
Although she turned into a witch during her last visit to the School. Sophie struggles to be good throughout A World without Princes. Agatha remains loyal to her friend but feels attracted to Tedros at the same time. But telling the difference between Good and Evil is more difficult than anyone believes. Even in a world run by fairy tale magic, there are a lot of gray areas.
Violence & Scariness
As with traditional folktales and fairy tales, A World Without Princes contains its fair share of violence. For much of the book, the mayhem is implied rather than shown, and when there's a violent encounter, it tends be be cartoonish rather than realistic. Exceptions in this volume include some scenes in which Tedros is tortured and the climactic battle, in which a sympathetic supporting character is killed and Evil seems to triumph.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There's some flirting and kissing, but the girls and the boys find each other unappealing for most of the novel. Ultimately, a kiss will seal everyone's fate.
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"Hell" is used a handful of times.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A World Without Princes picks up the story begun in The School for Good and Evil. It offers a fresh take on fairy tale devices and cliches, upending the expectations most readers have about princesses and villains. The language is very mild, with nothing worse than "hell" used. Would-be princesses and princes flirt with each other, and there are some kisses. As in most fairy tales, violence and the threat of it are fairly constant, but most characters escape actual harm.
Is It Any Good?
A World Without Princes has its moments of fun and excitement, though the narrative often feels rushed and repetitive. This second book finds a new wrinkle on the premise presented in the trilogy's first volume: By switching up everything up so that the main conflict is now between the Boys and the Girls, author Soman Chainani finds more opportunities for epic confrontations, underhanded scheming, and some satirical observations about the nature of fairy tales.
Unfortunately, the plot sometimes seems as if it's merely marking time until the climactic battle. Complications arise in every chapter, but they can be only minor variations on a theme. And Chainani's prose is much sloppier this time around. He never misses an opportunity to use a synonym when "said" will suffice, and he frequently makes odd verb choices.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.