Title: Etiquette & Espionage
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Finishing School
Book #: 1
Reading Level: YA
Goodreads Rating: 3.77
Published: February 5th, 2013, 2014
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.Taschima's POV:
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 the 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.
"It came as a relief to pack her youngest daughter and associated compatriots back to what she could only surmise was a respectable finishing school that would hopefully rid Sophronia of her many manifest flaws.Etiquette and Espionage is a very cute read. It carries Gail Carriger's Victorian signature and humor, if not the sexy parts of her adult series Soulless (which really I wasn't missing because I was having too much fun). Sophronia is a must meet character, fourteen years old she is a little nosy child with a little too much intelligence for a lady of her breed which turns out great if you are aspiring to be an intelligencer (a.k.a. a victorian spy).
Little did she know."
Sophronia is an all around very superior type of leading lady. She is pretty much a prodigy at spying- she is daring, imaginative, she likes to strategize, she asks all the right questions, she is perceptive, and she is very good at manipulating people. Pretty much she is good at everything she does without even trying, which can be a little too good to be true. I would like to see some flaws because she is human after all (or is she? This IS a victorian/steampunk/supernatural series after all). I am pretty sure she is human anyways. But while Sophnoria being the golden star spy can get on your nerves she is also a good friend. I don't know if I would call her extremely caring, but she does help what she considers her friends. You don't want to make an enemy of her however, she will slowly but surely destroy you.
"The thing about a finishing school that trains intelligencers, thought Sophronia, is that everyone knows your business, sometimes before you do. And occasionally they'll make it up simply for entertainment."The side characters were enjoyable if not a little forgettable. There are so many of them, and only but a few really stand out. Dimity is the legacy who wishes not to be a spy but a lady of worth (she is after fashion and gossip, but not to use it for ill intent). She is a lively character and a good counter part to Sophnoria's more quiet but deadly way to be. There is also Agatha, who is a mossy little thing with little to no advantages), Sidheag (a lady who was literally raised by wolves), Vieve (mechanical genius--because every heroine needs one of these), and Soap (Sophronia's guy friend who works in the boiler room of the academy shoveling coal). Soap while trying to be one of the most distinct characters sadly also falls short of Sophronia's wit and presence. He is a nice guy, who is quite handy when trying to break into a room, who Sophronia might like a bit too much (though she is still fourteen and hasn't been given permission to be courted).
I still have some questions, like for example who is sponsoring this finishing school? The vampires, the werewolves, the government, or another party? Why are they training these ladies? What is their purpose? Who are they supposed to be spying on? Who is Monique's accomplice? I guess I just want more history regarding the foundation of the school, how it came to be, etc. These are questions that I hope to find an answer to by reading the next books in the series (so far there are 4). The main drive behind the story is figuring out the puzzle, and watching Sophronia kick ass, but I am ready to see how this finishing school relates to the "real world".
A fun, quick, and engaging read. I recommend it to fans of The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett, and of course fans of Gail Carriger's adult series Soulless.