Review: Flunked by Jen Calonita

Middle Grade Madness

Flunked by 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?

Title: Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School #1)
Author: Jen Calonita
Publication date: March 3, 2015

I really liked the first half of this book. I ran out of renewals, so I had to return it to the library, wait for it to get back to its home library, then check it out again and wait for it to get back to my library so I could pick it up. It’s a good thing I had been the last person on the waiting list or I would have had a longer wait. Still, it took some time, and by the time I started reading it again, I had pretty much lost interest. I think it’s me and not the book, because I doubt the writing changed right at the point where I stopped. But it’s not necessarily because of the wait, either. I do that sometimes: start reading a book, get distracted by something else, and pick it up again weeks later. I usually don’t have any problem. So on one hand, I don’t think it’s right to give the book a lower rating than (I believe) I would have if I’d read it straight through in the first place, but on the other hand, the rating is a reflection of my actual experience with the book, not my ideal or expected experience. And I just didn’t love it all the way through.

Gilly is a pickpocket who steals from the thriving merchants and royals of Enchantasia because her family is so poor that they don’t have enough to eat. Her father is the shoemaker (they live in a shoe) who invented the glass slipper, but ever since the glass slipper orders started going to (Cinder)Ella’s fairy godmother instead of her father, business has been bad. It’s her latest theft — of a hair clip for her sister’s birthday — that gets her thrown into Fairy Tale Reform School.

The teachers at FTRS are the familiar villains, now reformed, from fairy tales. Although I am not a fan of fairy tales (which may have been part of my eventual problem with Flunked, even though it wasn’t an issue at first), I was familiar with most of the characters mentioned. Gilly’s fellow students range from pixies and trolls to merpeople, all with their own offenses that got them sent to FTRS.

FTRS is celebrating its fifth anniversary, and soon after Gilly’s arrival, preparations for Royal Day begin. Strange things start happening, and Gilly realizes that it’s up to her and her friends to figure out who’s behind them and ensure that Royal Day is safe and fun for everyone.

I’ll probably pick up the next book from the library, because I did enjoy this book up until that halfway point. The world of Enchantasia and the idea of a reform school for fairy tale characters interests me enough to give it another shot. The school reminded me a lot of Hogwarts and the descriptions of it were probably my favorite parts of the book.

3 1/2 stars



  1. It’s true our rates depend a lot on the circumstances. Ah well, don’t stop reading the next, lol 😉
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  2. it sounds like a really fun read. Some books I can stop and go back to some I can’t I do believe its a mixture of the time in the middle of the book lost and the book itself. Some books are better read all at one time. Some it just doesn’t matter, it be read and enjoyed at anytime.
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