Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

9:15 PM

Pages: 307
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Genre: Young Adult Steampunk

Review by Phil

Synopsis (from 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.

Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail Carriger's legions of fans have come to adore.

My Thoughts:

So for starters this book was pure cover lust for me, I mean come on! Look at it! The aesthetics are totally pleasing, the steampunk-like fleur de les (?? is that how you spell it?), and the black and white girl carrying the scissors (while irrelevant to the plot line of the book) looks totally awesome! So other then the cover, before buying this I really hadn't a clue as to what the story was about.

It turns out that Etiquette & Espionage is actually about a young girl named Sophronia, who is sent to a finishing school for delinquents, and lives in a steampunk 1850. It turns out though that the finishing school she has been sent to is actually a finishing school used to train female assassins. By studying the arts of poison, poise, and knife wielding, Sophronia begins to feel as if she is finally at home. But, with her new surroundings come dangerous threats like the evil flyaway men, werewolfs, vampires, and the mysterious prototype.

While normally something like this wouldn't normally appeal to me, I ended up liking it enough. Steampunk just isn't really my thing, and I had trouble envisioning some of the inventions that were described in the book, but other then that the writing was pretty good. The only thing I didn't like about the writing was that it seemed a little too easy. Carriger is known for her adult steampunk series the Parasol Protectorate, and though I've never read any of those books, I get the feeling like Carriger watered down her writing in order to make it a YA book, which made it also kind of dull.

There were long gaps in the storyline that were just unimportant and redundant, which made the story kind of boring at some points, but the ending is fun and unexpected. Overall I liked this book enough, but not enough for anything about 3/5 stars.

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