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Book Review: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Title: Etiquette and Espionage

Author: Gail Carriger

Series: Finishing School #1

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Overview: 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. Temminnick 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. -Goodreads

The Review:

I’m glad I knew before diving in that this is a prequel series to an adult urban fantasy world because otherwise I would’ve described my experience Etiquette and Espionage as totally disjointed and under-realized.

Actually, I’m still describing it that way, but at least I have context and know the why’s of the situation. I’m sure it’s hard to approach a new series with fresh eyes when you’ve already been writing in the world for years. You forget that some readers have never been here before and may brush over details and neglect building connections from scratch. As it happens, I’m quite interested in this world, and while I found the combination of werewolves and airships quite confusing, it definitely piqued my interest. While I didn’t like the brushed-over presentation here, I’m planning to stick around for a while to get the full experience.

I also didn’t care for the plot. The main character had a weird objective that felt to me a bit forced. Would someone really get involved with that even though it had absolutely nothing to do with them? Another thing that struck me odd is how unphased the character seemed after learning the purpose of this finishing school. Again, here I’m still interested to see where things go, but have a few objections to the execution of the story.

Since these are the youthful days of characters from an established series, I’m intrigued to see what sort of backgrounds are cemented here and who will eventually make it to the main series. If given my way I usually choose chronologic order when reading, even if the first books aren’t stellar. I seem to have more patience that way.

Recommendations: pick this one up for a proper finishing school atmosphere and teen shenanigans. Because this is a prequel series to the adult urban fantasy Parasol Protectorate, it reads a bit under-developed. So if you’ve already read that other series, you might have a better go if it here by bringing all of the depth established in PP over. Otherwise it’s just a basic, average YA.

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