For What It's Worth

Thursday, February 21, 2013

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


10874177It'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.

Sophronia Temminnick at 14 is a great trial more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners -- and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Her poor mother, desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady, enrolls the lively tomboy in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But 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. ~ Goodreads

Review:
Steampunk is very much a hit or miss genre for me, but the idea of a young girl engaged in covert espionage peaked my curiosity to the point that I just couldn't resist giving this book a try.

I'm glad that I did because for the most part Etiquette & Espionage was so much fun to read. As you would imagine with Victorian era steampunk, there is no end to the whimsical descriptions of mechanical maids, mechanimals, airship schools and a fun touch of the paranormal with vampires and werewolves. The descriptions did at times veer towards whimsy overload but I could truly visualize living in this world and would have loved to attend Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing School for Girls.

I loved how Carriger created a world that while it's important to have good posture and flutter ones eyelashes prettily, it is also important for a girl to be intelligent and think on her feet. Our heroine, a very wise for her 14 years Sophronia Angelina Temminnick, gets to put her natural spy skills to work right away when a fellow student acts suspiciously and the school comes under attack.

There is just the tiniest hint of romance with the focus staying more on the girls Sophronia meets at this special girls only etiquette/espionage school. It was nice to read the different dynamic she had with each girl. Female friendships are usually overlooked these days.

I felt the end was wrapped up a bit too quickly and would have loved to have read in greater detail about Sophronia's espionage lessons. Maybe the next book will delve into that further. I like the idea of the series starting with a girl who is 14 and watching her develop into a young woman. It gives a wonderful opportunity for character growth over the span of the series.

Final thoughts: Not every character is developed as much as I would have liked and the whimsical descriptions occasionally overpowered the plot but Etiquette & Espionage is a wonderful introduction to a clever world where brains are valued just as much as proper etiquette.

Author: Website | Twitter
Source: Provided by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers via Netgalley for my honest review
Buy the book! Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School)

26 comments:

  1. This is on my tbr pile on my ereader! I can't wait to read it!!! Thanks for your honest review! :)

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    1. I hope you enjoy it! It was a lot of fun.

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  2. I'm glad you liked it! It's in my TBR pile too and I was wondering how Carriger was going to pull off YA (and a 14 year old, at that). I've been looking forward to this one for so long, I was worried. Great review!

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    1. It feels young but it's still a lot of fun because of all the steampunk elements. I usually; don't like reading about 14 year old (& younger in this case) characters but it worked for me with E&E.

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  3. I am getting it for my bday :D YAAAAY

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    1. Can't wait to hear what you think!

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  4. I will be asking our library to get this as well as her PP books. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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    1. I read Soulless but haven't gotten around to the others int hat series yet. I thought this one was a little more fun but the same writing style.

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  5. I like HF, and I like Steampunk (sometimes) but I haven't even considered reading this one. Maybe I'll give it atry sometime. Glad you liked it!

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    1. It's cute. Definitely more light and fun than heavy. If that's what you're in the mood for it's a good choice.

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  6. I'm with you. I enjoyed this one as well. I would have also loved more with the secondary characters, but I do think she has it planned out with the next books (at least I hope so!). I loved the tongue in cheek humor and I can't wait for the next book. :)

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    1. Sometimes I get impatient and what EVERYTHING in one book lol I have to keep in mind that it takes time to develop everyone throughout the series. There is a lot of potential for several characters.

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  7. Melissa has convinced me (and now you as well) that should I ever give steampunk another whirl I will try this one. I don't know what it is about me and this genre *sigh*

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    1. Like I said in my review - this is a hit or miss genre for me. This book is more fun and fanciful with the steampunk elements.

      Another fun steampunk series that I like is the Blud series by Delilah Dawson.

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  8. This sounds great! I have heard that this is kind of a continuation of her other books, would it be confusing for me to jump in with this one?

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  9. Glad that you liked it even if some of the characters weren't as well developed as you wanted.
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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    1. I would say it was more with the secondary characters so that's not really a problem for me. hopefully they get more time in the next two books.

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  10. Ah, I've been looking for a good steampunk to read, especially in the YA category. Normally a fourteen-year-old would put me off, but I've gotta say the concept is too neat sounding to pass up. Not to mention a book without romance being the main story arc; romance is wonderful and all, but I'm definitely in an espionage mood. ;) Even if a lack of character growth does put me off a bit, definitely gonna pick this up. Thank you for the review!

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    1. I'm not usually a fan of younger protagonists either but the espionage backdrop was fun. I also think that Sophronia has an almost adult voice so it doesn't come off childish.

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    2. Definitely good to know! A good young non-bratty MC is so hard to come by.

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  11. I have this right now from my library! I haven't really read much steampunk but I'm excited for this one. I like what you said about the qualities a lady must have. It sounds like a really fun book!

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    1. It's not really a genre I enjoy but I thought this one was fun. Not perfect - but still fun.

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  12. I think this book sounds ridiculously fun. The opening lines of the synopsis are enough to grab my interest. :)

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  13. I bought this one and am very excited to read it! I hadn't realized the main character was so young - I guess they are trying to span the tween/YA market. Great review.

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    1. She is young and the plot leans younger but she's smart so I didn't feel like I was reading about a 14 year old.

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  14. I was just thinking about reading Soulless this week since I haven't read any of Gail's books yet.!
    Pabkins @ My Shelf Confessions

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