Thursday, February 21, 2013

Etiquette & Espionage : a review

Check out today's The Librarian Way for a discussion on Teen Tech Week programming.

By Gail Carriger
Little, Brown and Company: Copyright 2013
307 pages

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. 

~Amazon Description~

The Breakdown

Sophronia Temminnick is a little rough around the edges.  She likes to climb; she's interested in books; and she always seems to find herself in the most compromising of situations.  So begins Sophronia's schooling at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality which is not all it appears to be.

When the school is attacked by flywayman (yeah, highwayman in the sky) looking for a mysterious prototype, Sophronia and friends take it upon themselves to save the school from the rogues and put their new "skills" to good use.

The Awesome

The. Cover. Is. Awesome.  It's pink and girly, but mysterious and steampunkish.

Chapter titles!  I know I've said this before, but I love fun chapter titles.  I like the bit of foreshadowing, especially if their witty (ex. "Lesson 5 - Never Hurl Garlic Mash At a Man With a Crossbow")

Sophronia is become the best of both worlds.  She understands the power of her feminine whiles, but still likes to put herself into the middle of the action.  She thinks quickly on her feet, and she isn't afraid to put herself in danger, especially if it's for the sake of friends and family.  Carriger mixes in just enough of the supernatural to make this a really fun read.

The Not So Awesome

World building.  I know it's important, because if you don't understand or like the world the book is set in, what's the point?  But the book moved slowly at points, and I couldn't help wanting to just jump into the action.  Now that the school, Sophronia's abilities, and some villains have been set in motion, the series will hopefully pick up steam.

Overall, a very fun read.   If you like adventure, smart heroines, and steampunk flare, this is definitely a good choice.

Related Titles: The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress, The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross, The Affinity Bridge by George Mann


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