Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, book one)
By Gail Carriger
Published 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Sophronia Temminnick doesn't mean to be a bother - it just so happens that the things she enjoys tend to be a bit bothersome. So, she's not terribly surprised when she's packed off to a finishing school - a bit miffed, but not surprised. She IS surprised, though, when the finishing school turns out to be, well, not your typical finishing school - for starters, this one has a vampire on staff.
Despite my best intentions, I've not yet read Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series - it sounds like it would definitely be right up my alley, but I just haven't found the time. However, when I heard she was releasing a YA debut, I couldn't resist requesting an e-galley. I was delighted when I was approved and couldn't wait to dive in.
I can now definitely say that Carriger's book are my kind of fun. This book is SO MUCH FUN. I love, love, love Sophronia - oh, she is such a little firecracker! Carriger has done a great job with her, creating a heroine who I can get solidly behind in every way. I want to hang out with Sophronia, though I know it would only get me into trouble - it would be the best sort of trouble imaginable. I love that Sophronia is not afraid to try anything. She certainly doesn't adhere to the decorum of her time, but that makes her all the more lovable. She is witty and charming and I like that she doesn't necessarily know how delightful she is.
That being said, the weight of this book is carried on Sophronia's shoulders - without her, I'm not sure I would love it quite so much. I love the idea of Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality - the girls are not being "finished" in the traditional sense of the word. I think the melding of traditional finishing and espionage is wonderfully done - I just want to know more about it! I want to hear more of their lessons, and I want to know what exactly is up with Mademoiselle Geraldine - is she truly clueless or just the most expert at subterfuge? I found the plot with the prototype almost unnecessary - yes, it drove Sophronia throughout the book, but really, she could have been looking for anything as the mystery surrounding the prototype wasn't fully fleshed out either (at least, I didn't feel as if it was). I did enjoy the peek at class relations - Sophronia's relationship with Soap was very appealing, and I'd like to know more about the supernatural creatures as well.
Basically, what it boils down to is that I really enjoyed this book and am only complaining because I want more! I will definitely be eagerly awaiting book two and I foresee this book flying off the shelves at the library!
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.