Friday, March 21, 2014

YA Book Review: Etiquette and Espionage (Finishing School Book The First)

Book Title: Etiquette and Espionage (Finish School 1)
Author: Gail Carriger |Website| TwitterFacebook|
Publisher: Little Brown for Young Readers
Genre: YA Paranormal/ YA Steampunk
Series/Standalone: Series
Format: Hardcover
Cost: $17.99
Pages: 307
How I got it: Library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Publisher
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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

I liked reading this steampunk version of one of my favorite romantic periods.  The ballgowns, the prepping for parties, the finishing school education is simply amusing, especially because the lead character hates doing most of it, so she thinks down about it all the time

Truly a good read especially because  it's about the character finding herself  and her place in the world and not through a man; much to her mother's disdain.  Although eventually she will have to marry but it'll be for practical reason or at least that's how it's presented now. We'll see how that goes later. The names throughout the book were a great source of amusement for me.  I'm trying to not spoil it for anyone, but the idea that the woman was completely clueless as to what was happening on her ship?? Makes me wonder about her. The teachers were also amusing, the idea of a werewolf who wore a hat so you could recognize him was very funny. I got quite a few chuckles from the teachers alone.

The other characters are written in a way that makes you form a opinion and very rarely did any of them give you a reason to change that initial idea. I can already tell she's going to have a few friends and quite a few enemies, especially the young woman being punished. The concept of teaching the young women to be Ladies while being spies, is great because clearly Sophronia wouldn't last anywhere else. Heck she hasn't even been at school all that long and already she's caught up in things best left to the experts (although she manages to become quite adept at many of her lessons.)

The world we were being introduced was very intricate and I'm intrigued to learn more about the world and the role her neighbor is going to play in her world.  I loved reading about the many mechanical alternatives to the things found in actual history.

I'm however not amused by the scene in page 115 that appears to equate a Black character with being dirty. I'm NOT amused at all and for that I dropped the rating from five solid stars to 31/2 stars, I'm not ignorant I'm aware that not many people would know how to describe a Black person when they first meet then, but to immediately equate his color with cleanliness is a questionable comment, even if it's only in her head. This maybe the Victorian era but by then, most if not all knew of Blacks even if they hadn't seen one. If that was to be within the role of the character it needed to be explained as naivete instead of appearing as a racial comment from the author.
I do look forward to the other books in the series, and hope there will be fewer incidents like in here. I still recommend the book.
Happy Reading

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