Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Review: Etiquette and Espionage

Author: Gail Carriger
Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)Pages: 307
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2/5/2013
Standalone or Series: The Finishing School series #1
Source: Checked out from my local library
Rating: 3.5

Summary takes from Goodreads: Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

Review: I liked this book and I am glad that I checked it out. Will I be buying this book so that I can have it on hand for re-reading? Most likely not. Will I be continuing on with the series? Probably, but only if I can check it out from the library. I also want to check out Gail Carriger's other series The Parasol Protectorate.

What I liked:
  • The fact that this book was steampunk. I love this style from the clothes to the names of the characters I just love the worlds that are created in this genre.

  • The main character and the supporting characters. I thought that the main character Sophronia was a very good female protagonist. She had a very inquisitive mind and a great sense of adventure, much to her poor mother's dismay. She definitely took matters into her own hands and seemed to march to the beat of her own drum. The supporting characters were entertaining and seemed to add some (but not a whole lot of) variety to the book. Most of the girls at the school were much like Sophronia's sisters and cared about looks, fashion, etiquette, etc. and others (you could count them on one hand) were not as concerned with acting like a lady.

  • The names of the character. They were funny, witty, whimsical, and unique. This aspect of the book did remind me of Harry Potter so that was a fun little twist for me. I definitely enjoy books with unique and quirky names or names that have double innuendoes. Think the fact that the hunky quidditch captain in Harry Potter name is Oliver Wood. Hello? Cue the inappropriate jokes and remarks.   

  • The fashion that was described in this book was swoon worthy. I am pretty sure that I should have been born about 100 years earlier because I would love to wear some petticoats, hats, fashionable dresses, and the boots. Oh the boots! I own a few reproductions but I would love some authentic steampunk boots!!!!!!!!!!!! Give me, give me, give me.

  • The overall concept. Even though it was not executed quite the way that I had imagined the general idea was fun and whimsical. Kind of reminded me of Harry Potter in the whole boarding school for kids, adventure around every corner, people being deceived, and magical creatures living at the school.

What I did not like:
  • The cover. Even though the dress is very reminiscent of the current fashion for the setting of this book the girl on the cover is far to old to be 14. This sort of deceived me at first because I was expecting the girl to be older so I felt like that sort of threw me off for the entire book.

  • The characters. Even though I liked the characters for their whimsy they were all quite one-dimensional. This might change as the story progresses and they learn more about the school and mature. I just felt like there could have been some more diversity among the girls and that maybe we could have heard more from some supporting characters. I understand that at the time this book is set in being a lady was of upmost importance however I did sort of expect Sophronia to not buy into the idea as much as she did towards the end. I wanted more defiance, more anarchy, and overthrow of Victorian ideals. I did not get this... womp womp.

  • I need more action! While there was some in the form of minor outings and some shenanigans with a few low action moments thrown in for good measure. The majority of the book had nothing really. The moments in between were humorous with some wit and whimsy but nothing more than that. I want something major to happen... anything please!

  • The ending. Barely any action until the very end and even then it was minimal at best. Absolutely no one got hurt and everything was neatly tied up at the end. So no real cliffhanger to make me want to come back and read about the second year. Not really sure what the second book will be about because there were no clues to offer any inkling.

  • The writing. I understand that the main character is 14 when she begins this school and that many of the current students are around that age or even younger than that. However, even considering that the writing left something to be desired. It was not horrible and I have definitely read books that were a whole lot worse, but it was not outstanding either. Hopefully the writing will improve as the series continues.

Overall I though that the book was fun, whimsical, funny (at times) and was somewhere between good and great. Not the best thing that I have ever read but at the same time not the worst. I will be reading the rest of the series but this is one book I will probably never own.

* Disclaimer: I have been reading some really outstanding and in my opinion 4 and 5 star books lately. So bear that in mind when reading this review. I could be suffering from some book hangover and be slightly biased in my opinion regarding this book. *

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