Book Review: Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger

Title: Manners and Mutiny

Author: Gail Carriger

Series: Finishing School #4

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Overview: Lessons in the art of espionage aboard Mademoiselle Geraldine’s floating dirigible have become tedious without Sophronia’s sweet sootie Soap nearby. She would much rather be using her skills to thwart the dastardly Picklemen, yet her concerns about their wicked intentions are ignored, and now she’s not sure whom to trust. What does the brusque werewolf dewan know? On whose side is the ever-stylish vampire Lord Akeldama? Only one thing is certain: a large-scale plot is under way, and when it comes to fruition, Sophronia must be ready to save her friends, her school, and all of London from disaster–in decidedly dramatic fashion, of course. What will become of our proper young heroine when she puts her years of training to the test? -Goodreads

The Review:

I finally figured out what has been missing in this series.

It wasn’t until I got to this final book and found out where the story has been culminating to this whole time that I realized what the previous books were lacking: a plot arc.

Instead of having every book be self-contained with a satisfying mini arc, each one only served to progress one overall arc of the four book series. In every aspect, from the love interest to the external conflict, and even down to the big reveals of the story, nothing showed significant progress until the finale. Everything that came before was just set up. It’s a small wonder I finished each book feeling slightly unsatisfied. I’m glad I broke tradition and actually read all of these books back to back.

Another thing that was missing was any sort of meaningful character growth. The main character ended up exactly where she started and had very little internal conflicts to work through in the series. This is probably one of the reasons I feel the characters and the series as a whole lacked depth. Heck, half the time I didn’t even understand her motive for the things she did, let alone a complex character exploration. While the culmination of the whole series was decent, the character development still left me wanting.

This is petty, but I found myself annoyed at the name choices for the characters. Sophronia just seems like a stupid name to me. Like something you’d name a posh little white dog. And for whatever reason, one of the love interests was called “Soap.” Stupid.

Overall the series was just meh – middle of the road for me. I loved the classroom stuff (espionage training!) even though there wasn’t much of it. I also really enjoyed the dynamics between Sophronia and her friends. This final book had some decent moments and kept my interest more than the previous books, but all the things I’ve detailed kept it from being memorable. That said, even with my issues, I find myself leaning slightly more positive than negative, so it’ll be a negotiable 3 stars for the series as a whole. Oddly I still have the same enthusiasm to continue with the next set of three books (Delightfully Deadly) and then onto the adult Parasol Protectorate series, as I’m eager to see how they compare and find out where everyone ends up now that I have all of this background story.

Recommendations; I’ll know more how to recommend this once I read the PP series, but for the moment, while this was a fun middle-of-the-road jaunt, it didn’t blow my skirt up. Had I read it without promise of the adult UF series, I probably would be dogging on it a little more, but right now it’s getting a pass until I can see if it amounts to anything. Stay tuned…

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by Niki Hawkes

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