Monday, April 1, 2013

Gail Carriger - Etiquette & Espionage

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. Temminnick 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 the 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's legions of fans have come to adore. 

Comment: I've purchased this book several months ago. I had just finished the last of the Protectorate series by the same author and the way it ended was an indication that the YA series to come (this one) might be about a new character from that other series, someone I was eager to know as a protagonist. I got the book and only later did I realize no, this new series wasn't about that character and would be, in fact, a new series about something different. My letdown wasn't that huge because I loved the other series and would love to have something else by the author, even when I don't have any more patience for YA's books,  still stick to this one and went for it.

This book is all about a Finishing School and Sophronia is invited to join, mostly because of her mother's hopes she might learn to be a lady there. However, the school proves to be quite different from what Sophronia expected. Still, she decides to take a rick and welcomes what she is learning, even to help people she barely met. 

I feel conflicted. Actually I'm not sure what to think about the book. I've finished it and spent some good time with it but some days later I'm still unsure of what I thought about it.
It's true that the writing is as thrilling as I remembered from the Protectorate series but this time the action took place years before the other one and despite having some fun seeing some characters when they were children, it wasn't as amazing as that.
Then there's the fact there's no real action in the book. We see Sophronia and her friends in their adventures at school and there's a sort of mystery to solve but it's all so wrapped up I didn't feel as expectant to see it end as I do in other books.
I really don't know what to say about this book. It was good in terms of writing and environment with all those elements of steampunk and paranormal that the author does so well, and for that alone the book is worth it, but the action isn't special and as it's YA there's no romance to flavor things up, so... I wasn't very impressed with what I think should be strongest point in the book, the story itself. I'm still curious to see what might happen in following books and if other characters we know will show up, but I'm not eager for it and will probably wait until later to get it.
Really unsure of what to say about it...sometimes you really have no clear words or thoughts about a book...I didn't hate it, I just liked it enough, that's all.

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