Thursday, October 16, 2014

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger

Sophronia would rather take things apart and climb than learn proper tea etiquette and act like a lady.  So when her mother sends her to Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, she's expecting the worst.  But this school isn't like other finishing schools.  True, they still learn how to curtsy and dance, but this school is nothing like Sophronia imagined.  The school is actually on a floating ship and will prepare the girls to become skilled in fighting and defending themselves and other espionage.  Sophronia fits right in with her fearlessness, resourcefulness, and rebellious nature.  The only person she doesn't fit with is is Monique, an older girl who takes an immediate dislike of Sophronia.  Monique is also hiding something... and Spohronia and her friends are determined to find out what.

This was my first experience with Steampunk!!  Okay, I'm lying... I did watch Wild Wild West (the movie with Will Smith) back in the day, does that count??  So THAT was my only exposure to Steampunk before this.  Anywho, I found this book entertaining and fun, but also slow and not very informative at the same time.

Sophronia comes to Miss Geraldine's not knowing that it's a school training her to be a spy.  It made me laugh how these girls learned how to kill people while still being "lady-like" about it.  And how they were supposed to run around risking their lives with these GIANT dresses on.  It was also kind of funny to see Sophronia start actually caring about proper things, while still keeping her unique edge to her.  She's not afraid to get dirty and she's super resouceful and I hope she never loses those qualities as this series progresses.  I definitely liked Sophronia and her BFF Dimity, and the way Sophronia was with all of her dorm-mates.

The thing that I didn't love about this book was that nothing that much happened.  There's a "prototype" that's missing and they do a few things to try and locate it, suspecting arch-nemesis Monique the whole time.  But there's not real intense action or heavy plot.  The school itself and it's grand purpose isn't explained that much at all... are they training to be spies for an organization??  A country??  Just in general??  Who exactly are they going to try to kill with all these handkerchief tricks??  Who are these Picklemen and Flywaymen and why do they want the prototype??  I just thought a lot more could have been explained about the school and the world they live in.

I did love the sooties though.  That was by far my favorite part.  And Bumbersnoot (a "mechanimal" dog, that becomes Sopronia's pet).  The world of Steampunk is super new to me and hard for me to take seriously... kinda.  I mean mechanical robots sliding around on tracks through the house??  In the late 1800's?  I get confused.  And the school itself is airborn, like a giant hot air balloon or something.  I know I'm supposed to just go with it, but I find it hard sometimes.

I thought the book was cute and fun and silly.  I probably will read the next book because I liked Sophronia so much, and I'm hoping there's a bigger adventure and more action to come.

PS- I did not read the Parasol Protectorate series and didn't know that this was related to that, so I actually have no idea if this hindered my ability to 100% understand everything or not.

OVERALL: My first Steampunk!!!  I really enjoyed Sophronia's spunky attitude and the cast of characters that surrounded her.  I wished there was more action and just more things happening, but I really enjoyed reading this.  Recommended for younger YA readers and anyone looking for something light and fun.

This Book Contains:

  • All sorts of mechanical stuff
  • Werewolves
  • Vampires (who say "Whot?" a lot)
  • A school that floats
  • Flywaymen
  • A boy named Soap
  • A girl that dresses like a boy
  • A coming out party or Ball, however you refer to it
  • 1800's European setting
  • 3rd Person POV
  • Petticoats... lots of them
  • English slang
  • Little to no romance

My Rating: 3/4

How I got this book: Library
Date Published: 2/5/2013

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