Friday, April 5, 2013

Book in Review: Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013

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. Temminick 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 they 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 Carriger's legions of fans have come to adore.


When I first heard of this book I thought it would be excellent. The world sounded fantistic, the characters sounded fun, and I was hoping the writing would be good too. Then I realised this was the author of Soulless, which I haven't read yet but I've heard is very good. My hopes went even higher after that.

The book follows young Sophrania as she is shipped off to finishing school because of her behavoir, only to realise it is an undercover school for spies and assassins. On her way there, one of her co-students runs into the flywayman who are looking for a prototype. This becomes a mystery to Sophrania as the teachers believe this student hid it and though they don't want to give it to the flywayman, they are also afraid of her intentions of keeping it from them.

For this book, I found the writing style much too "young". Meaning, I felt the plot and adventure progressed much the same way it would in a children's book rather than a young adult book. There is a lot of emphasis on the people and too much telling about the world. I felt like the author didn't let me "discover" the world for myself. And then it was slow. Nothing much happens except this mystery about the prototype, and that wasn't really interesting enough to stand up on it's own for an entire book.

Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the book. The world was interesting, I liked the characters, and there is so much potential for interesting storylines in the future books. The action was fun as well, though I felt there really wasn't enough action in the book overall and they sort of stuck out like a sore thumb when something really cool happened. I just felt a bit let down by it. I feel like I will have to read Soulless to get a rather good taste of the world. So much happened at the school and the only scenes I *really* enjoyed were off-school. Maybe the future books in this series will be better but as of right now I'm not ready to give them a try.


Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher at an event. No review was "required" in exchange for the book.

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  1. I really wanna read some of her stuff! I've heard middle to good things about all of her work! This one sounds cute, but this isn't the first time that I've heard that it's written pretty young. Great review!

  2. I love the cover and the premise of the book certainly sounds intriguing. I'd definitely pick this one up, even if it is a little on the 'young' side.
    Suzy Turner, YA Author