Monday, March 3, 2014

Etiquette & Espionage (review)

4/5 stars

As a long-time Gail Carriger fan, I've been anticipating Etiquette & Espionage (Goodreads | Amazon) for awhile.  One of my favorite adult authors ventures into my favorite type of books (young adult)? Yes please!  And while I can't say I enjoyed this book as much as her Soulless series, I enjoyed it and feel it's a good beginning for a new series.

To me, this book felt younger that a lot of the YA books I read.  Partially that's because of the time-frame that it's set and that it's a boarding school novel but it's still worth noting.  That in itself is not bad, actually this will probably be a good introduction to Steampunk for younger young adult readers.

The main character fourteen-year-old Sophronia is exactly what I'd want from a YA book set in the Soulless universe.  She's not very good at being proper, she's too curious and scientifically-minded, but at the beginning of the novel she's still a girl of her time in regards to dresses, parties and boys.  After one mistake too many, her mother decides to send her to finishing school to try to straighten out her behavior.

Only that's not the kind of finishing school where Sophronia ends up. Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality does teach girls how to curtsy, dance and all the womanly arts necessary for the time-period, but it also teaches them to spy, snoop and even kill if necessary.

As a Soulless reader, I kept trying to figure out the time-frame of this series.  For the record it takes place years before that book and you'll run into a few familiar characters as children.  It's a neat scavenger hunt to recognize them, but it's not necessary to have read Soulless to enjoy the book.

Overall this was a fun read.  I expect as Sophronia grows up we'll get more of the flirtyness that Carriger writes so well, but as for the first book it's focused on adventure and friendship, which is a nice change of pace for YA since it tends to be so romantically driven (not that there aren't first crushes in this book, but at fourteen that's just not the driving force of any of the characters lives).

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