Check the Shelf Book Review: Flunked

Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School, #1)

Flunked  by Jen Calonita website | twitter

Read by Kristin Condon

Publisher/Year: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky | March 1, 2015

Time: 5 Hours 17 minutes

Pages: 256

Series: Fairy Tale Reform School Book 1

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

Format: Audiobook

Source: Audiobook Jukebox

Amazon | Goodreads


I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  That did not sway my opinion in the least.

Summary (From Goodreads)

Would you send a villain to do a hero’s job? An exciting new twisted fairy tale series from award-winning author 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?

Shannan’s Summary

Gilly is a thief. Although, she would say she’s a good thief, only stealing from people who can afford it so she can feed her family.  The authorities, however, do not see it that way and after a third strike, she’s sent to Fairy Tale Reform School, where Cinderella’s Wicked Step-Mother is in charge, and other reformed villains are teachers.  But is everyone as reformed as they appear to be?  When things start going wrong, Gilly starts to question who everyone really is, even herself.

First Off…

I originally saw this on NetGalley, but wasn’t approved.  So I was super excited that I got it through Audiobook Jukebox.  I thought it was a great story concept and didn’t have anything similar on my TBR.


I liked this book.  It wasn’t a runout and rave about it kind of book, but good.  I would probably read the next book if I happened upon it, but not necessary seek it out to add to my shelves.  Some of this may be the simplicity of a middle-grade book.  The character development wasn’t super complicated.  I did like that there was growth in the characters, I just don’t know if it was always clear why they were growing as an individual.  The villains in the story were thought through as far as their back story goes and who that makes them now.  I found myself more worried on if some of the villains were really good or not because I liked the edginess they brought to the story.

The world was familiar without being predictable, and several of the twists in the story I didn’t see coming, so that was enjoyable.  I also was a little worried that the ending was going to be a major cliffhanger, but it ties up well enough that you’re satisfied, but still leaves an obvious opening for a second book.

One thing that I didn’t care for, and I think it may have been that it just didn’t fit with the audiobook, was the newspaper articles that were interspersed.  It was a moment that someone tried to interview one of the fairytale characters.  I found myself wanting to move on with the story and feeling like we just heard everything they were telling us in the newspaper.  It was extra complicated in the beginning because the book opened with one of these articles, so I was really confused at first trying to understand what was going on.

I thought one of the strengths of the books was dealing with friendship without it going to the relationship piece.  Middle-grade readers need to be thinking friendships and what that means, especially before they start trying to figure out what a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship means.

The Voice

This wasn’t one of my favorite readers.  It was a little hard to connect to her voice for me, not that it was annoying, I just think it was more the way she dramatized the characters that made it more difficult for me.  There were a couple of characters I didn’t like the voices for at all.  I think if I continue the series, I’ll be the one reading it.

In the End

It’s worth a read (or listen).  Especially if you like twisted fairy tales.  I think it would go over well with tomboy girls who like the princess stuff, but maybe don’t want to admit it.

10 Second Summary:

  1. Clever premise: I thought the idea of a fairy tale reform school for the evil villains we all knew was a great idea.  It kept my interest as you were introduced through the story.
  2. Good character development:  Especially the villains.  I thought everyone was well developed, there were only a couple minor moments that I questioned the motivations of some of them.
  3. Read don’t listen:  It can be difficult to follow at points and I wasn’t a fan of all the character voices.

Check the Shelf2

I would say $5 or less for me, but if you know a middle-grade reader that loves fairytales, I would go paperback.  


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