Every now and then it is refreshing to take a ride along with a story that doesn’t have any great claims to sense or meaning, but only expects you to enjoy and appreciate the moments as they exist. Gail Garriger manages to create a cute and whimsical story that is laden with wordplay and outrageous adventures, JUST for the fun of it. I’ve seen some liken this to the early books in the Potter series, and while it is true that the sense of fun, unusual names, outrageous adventures and wonderment are similar in feel, this story stands alone and reasonably unique. Steampunk elements are solidly portrayed, and steampunk elements are perfect for spurring imagination of the younger readers: a book suitable for 11 and up, the wordplay and childish attitudes of the characters will suit that age group perfectly well.
Characters in this story are average: while none are particular stand-outs, their personalities and approaches start you on a ‘getting to know you’ path that is sure to follow along in subsequent installments. The friendship between Sophronia, Agatha, Dimity and Sighead isn’t particularly angst-ridden, this is a fun and often silly story that moves from one point to another as the girls are learning to use their ‘feminine wiles’ to best advantage (and many amusing gaffes), with a bit of practical defensive training given. There is, of course, a boy’s school that is all that one could expect from a school for evil geniuses, and Sighead’s rather gruff tomboyish manner contrasted well with the other more feminine girls and Sophronia’s outrageous behavior for no reason other than to BE outrageous somehow fit nicely into the mix.
Add to that top hat wearing werewolves, faintly Shakespearean insults, and dirigibles, flying classrooms, inept pirates and gifts (or potential gifts) from boys that are just completely outrageous. Yes, the bad guys are over-the-top and bordering stereotypical cartoon baddies, but they are so ridiculously bad that it is just giggle material, especially with the outrageous names and visual imagery.
Carriger has penned a fun, funny and lighthearted story that will entertain and amuse: not one of those devour in one sitting stories, a few chapters spread over a few days will keep you engaged and interested in what comes next (even if you have already guessed). More importantly, as the start of a series it does give you an entrée into a new world and series that will introduce you gently to steampunk, giving you a feel for the flair and fun in the genre.
Title: Etiquette & Espionage
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Finishing School #1
Also in this series: Curtsies & Conspiracies, Waistcoats & Weaponry, Manners & Mutiny
Genre: Children's Literature, Science Fiction / Steampunk, Teen Reads
Published by: Little Brown
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 8 Hours: 55 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ AllRomance ♦ iTunes ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦Audible
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.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.