Author: Jen Calonita
288 Pages–Ages 10-13
Published By: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky on March 2016
Sometimes it’s good to be bad…
It takes a (mostly) reformed thief to catch a spy. Which is why Gilly Cobbler, Enchantasia’s most notorious pickpocket, volunteers to stay locked up at Fairy Tale Reform School…indefinitely. Gilly and her friends may have defeated the Evil Queen and become reluctant heroes, but the battle for Enchantasia has just begun.
Alva, aka The Wicked One who cursed Sleeping Beauty, has declared war on the Princesses, and she wants the students of Fairy Tale Reform School to join her. As her criminal classmates give in to temptation, Gilly goes undercover as a Royal Lady in Waiting (don’t laugh) to unmask a spy…before the mole can hand Alva the keys to the kingdom.
Her parents think Gilly the Hero is completely reformed, but sometimes you have to get your hands dirty. Sometimes it’s good to be bad…
I initially picked up Flunked because it had an interesting premise. When I first started it I wasn’t even aware it was part of a series (it had recently come out) so for most of the book I expected everything to wrap up pretty cleanly. Eventually, I figured out the book was part of the series, and honestly I should have guessed from the summary. Regardless, I ended up wanting to read the second book, but at the time I finished the first book it wasn’t out.
When Charmed first came out my interest in the series had faded quite a bit. I knew I still wanted to read it, but I wasn’t as excited. To be honest when I first picked up this book I had a hard time getting into it. Once I started reading it I lost interest after starting the second chapter so I put it down for a while. I recently learned that the last book (from what I could find on the internet) in the series was published so when I was creating my summer reading list I decided to add these books and the other two so I could finally complete out the series.
I remember liking Flunked. I remember wanting to read it’s sequel. I remember I wasn’t a huge fan of Gilly, but the story made up for it. But I don’t remember much else. I remember the feelings I had when I was reading it, but I can’t say the book itself stuck with me particularly well. So jumping into Charmed was a little difficult. It took me a minute to remind myself who the characters were, but Jen Calotia does a great job of re-introducing the characters for new readers without too much repetition for established readers.
I didn’t like Gilly in the first book, and that hasn’t changed in the second book. It wasn’t that she was annoying or anything, I just found her to have less than desirable traits. She was self-centered, selfish, mean, and judgmental. She makes a bunch of stereotypical mistakes of young heroes. She forsakes her friends to try and fit in with another group, she snubs the help of anyone else because she’s a “hero,” and she’s dead sure she knows who the bad guy is without leaving any suspicion of doubt (naturally she’s wrong and it comes back to bite them).
Her reformation toward her friends in the middle/end of the book leaves a lot to be desired. She has a talk with her dad that consists of like 5 sentences, Jack tells her she’s being unreasonable, and then she has this epiphany and vows to change her ways. It all happens in the span of a conversation. Nothing drastic happens to trigger any change. She just up and decides that she’s been acting pig-headed and reforms her ways immediately. It wasn’t very exciting and it didn’t feel genuine at all.
On the opposite scale, one character I really liked was Jocelyn. I don’t remember her much from the first book (although I think she played a relatively big role), but as this story went on I liked her more and Gilly less. Jocelyn was one of the characters Gilly passed extreme judgement on and Gilly treats her incredibly poorly as such. The worse Gilly treats Jocelyn the more I liked Jocelyn, even before I found out Jocelyn wasn’t evil (relatively speaking). She was a lot more helpful in investigating than Gilly and she treated people a lot better than Gilly, even though everyone still thought she was evil.
The story was pretty standard for this genre. Basically there’s a mole and the heroes need to find who the mole is before the fall of their kingdom. Naturally they find the mole and a big battle ensues. The heroes win the battle and the story ends happily. The story actually wraps up pretty nicely and it feels like the end of the series. Of course, I already know two other books have been published so obviously this isn’t the end.
Overall, even though I didn’t like the main character, which usually ruins a book for me, I actually thought this book was reasonably good. I still intend to read Tricked and Switched, and, although I’m not crazy excited about it, I think I will enjoy the rest of the series.