Sunday, 17 November 2013

Review: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger (Finishing School #1)

Publisher - Atom
Publication Date - 5th February 2013
Paperback - 312 pages
Genre - Young Adult/Steampunk

Source - Received from publisher for review

Rating - 4 out of 5: I really liked it.

Reviewed by - Maddie

Book Info - It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners—and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage—in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

My Thoughts - So, normally I hate it when books are compared to Harry Potter -or Twilight, or The Hunger Games, or The Fault in our Stars- but this time I understand.  Remember when you were reading The Philosopher's Stone and it just felt.... fun?  Well, Gail Carriger has recreated this but at 'Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality' and without the terrifying ending with Voldemort.

This book was clearly intended for the younger reader, preferably nine years or older, but as a fifteen year old girl, who normally wouldn't be seen dead with a cover like that (seriously?  Sophronia is meant to be a Victorian girl of fourteen!  Not a twenty year old model with a bad cosplay dress), this book would be enjoyed by any girl of any age who just wants some fun.

I didn't have to wait till Sophronia was sent to school to get interested.  I was really quickly involved in the steam-punk Britain she lives in.  Unlike Harry Potter, there is no moment where she moves from our world to the steam-punk world.  I have to admit I missed that moment of revelation.  However Carriger did successfully describe an alternative steam powered place, full of robotic service maids and flying carriages. 

When she arrives at the finishing school I couldn't quite tell if anyone would be surprised by the lessons.  In a world of mechanical butlers and vampires who be surprised by a teacher with werewolf tendencies?  It works though, because instead of being surprised by lessons on flirtations devices you just accept it and hop on the floating school of wonders.  Despite a mystery involving a brand new communication invention and Sophronia's new found enemy possibly concealing it, my focus was on the girls of the boarding school.  

A little gossipy and a little bitchy, all the girls have their own character and there not the cut out stereotypes we're used too.  There is a supposed love interest but he has a personality and it's not too gut wrenching.  It also peaked my interest for the sequel 'Curtsies & Conspiracies' which I will read when I need a little fun delight.

Other books in the series:
1. Etiquette and Espionage
2. Curtsies and Conspiracies


Jenny said...

I'll definitely have to try these one day when I'm in the mood for something just plain fun!

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