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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"The Unfairest of Them All: Ever After High 2" by Shannon Hale (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)




 Read FBC's Review of Storybook of Legends Here
 Visit Shannon Hale's Official Site Here

OVERVIEW: It's the aftermath of Legacy Day, the day when the students at Ever After High are supposed to pledge to follow in their fairytale parents' footsteps, and everyone is in a huff and a puff! Raven Queen, daughter of the Evil Queen, has refused to sign the Storybook of Legends, rejecting her story--and putting everyone else's in jeopardy.

The Royal Apple White doesn't want to think Raven is being a rebellious pain, but Raven's choice means Apple might never get the poisoned apple, Prince Charming, and a kingdom to rule. Behind Apple stands the Royals, those who want to play by the book and embrace their stories. The Rebels, supporters of Raven, believe in breaking free from destiny and writing their own stories.

But when the chaos and rivalry land wonderlandiful Madeline Hatter in trouble, Raven and Apple must bring the Royals and the Rebels together to shut the book on their feud before it threatens to end all of their Happily Ever Afters once and for all.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...Who'e the Unfairest of Them All?

FORMAT: The Unfairest of Them All is the second book in the Ever After High series. While based off of dolls/TV, the story in this novel is not connected and can be read without knowledge of the TV series/dolls. This series is a children's fantasy that contains adventure, magic and storybook characters.

The novel stands at 335 pages and was published March 25, 2014 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

ANALYSIS: The Storybook of Legends was a pleasant little surprise. It was fun, imaginative, and a bit quirky. I wasn't a huge fan of the whole doll/merchandise tie-in, but putting that aside, I realized it was a fun, light children's novel. So, I had high hopes for the second book when it was released. Luckily, I wasn't disappointed.

The Unfairest of Them All picks up right where Happily Ever After left off. All the students are in an uproar because Raven didn't sign the Storybook of Legends. This has caused the school to split into two groups – the Royals and the Rebels. Neither group wants to get along and refuses to back down – that is until a mutual friend is accused of committing a crime she didn't commit.

Madeline Hatter – daughter of the famous Mad Hatter from Wonderland – finds herself accused of committing a crime that could lead her to be exiled and expelled from Ever After High. It is up to Apple and Raven to work together and go through a series of tasks to uncover the truth and save Madeline from exile.

I absolutely loved and adored The Unfairest of Them All. It really took the characters that were introduced in Ever After High and developed them beyond imagination. Readers are shown that there is more to Apple – who appears shallow and superficial. Apple slowly starts to come around to the idea that change can – and sometimes is – a good thing. She still isn't ready to accept that Raven wants a different future, but she is slowly coming around to that idea.

In addition to Apple's character development, Raven develops further. Readers get to see a closer look into Raven's relationship with her mother, and even get a sneak peek into life in the mysterious jail cell that The Evil Queen has been living in.

One of the things that make this series so amazing is that every character, from the main characters of Apple and Raven to the smaller, secondary characters, has a unique personality that shines through the pages. Each character is distinctly their own person with unique likes/dislikes and interests, and Hale does an amazing job of developing them without drowning readers in boring blocks of text.

Another aspect that really makes this series stand out is that there isn't a huge focus on love triangles/dating. It is mentioned throughout the book, but the main focus is on the characters, main plot, and just having a fun book to read. All too often 'tween' books tend to stray into the relationship zone and that is all it focuses upon. Luckily, that has not happened to this series. 

I did appriciate that Hale seemed to cut back on the cutesy language in this book. There was less 'Storybook-isms' in this novel, which made it a lot easier to read. It was one of my quirks in the first book, but it obviously has been toned down in this novel. 

I will admit I am looking forward to the next book in the series. It promises to take readers into Wonderland and out of all the characters and storylines in Ever After High – Madeline is my favorite. I really cannot wait to see where Hale takes this series.

The truth is this – The Unfairest of Them All is not an epic fantasy. It isn't even a super involved children's novel. But, it is fun, light and has a solid enough plot that it will captivate most readers. It certainly is not a book for everyone. Many people will find it shallow, child-ish, and stereotypical, but if you love fairy tales or just want a fun, light read this is the book for you.

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