Thursday, January 9, 2014

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger [Review]

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)3.5 out of 5 Robots!

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
Series: Finishing School #1
Genre: YA (MG?) Historical Fiction/Steampunk
Release: February 5, 2013
Hardcover: 307 Pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon
Buy the Book: Amazon

Book Summary:
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.
(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Shannon's Thoughts:
On paper this book looks like it would be a lot of fun.  Who wouldn't like the idea of a spy academy disguising as finishing school with a dash of paranormal and a dollop of steampunk on top?  But, unfortunately, this book didn't really do much for me.  I really felt like it was trying too hard.  It was just too...cutesy for me.  And I think that distracted me away from the actual story.  I also thought it was a bit uneven.  Everything is shrouded in secrets: the school, the teachers, the "prototype", the other girls.  So much time is spent on how the school floats in the air, but very little time on who the teachers are and why they are there.  Why does this school exist?  Where did these teachers come from?  Why are they teaching girls to spy?  Who are the spying for?  None of that is explained.  I know it is part of a series, so I don't expect all the answers upfront but I feel like the basic premise should at least be laid out.  I also felt that very little time was devoted to the teaching.  Sophronia does not seem to spend much time in classes.  This was a little disappointing to me because I really wanted to learn how the girls were being taught.  I did like the characters.  They were fun and interesting.  But I would say this book is more middle grade than YA due to the age and maturity of the main character.  I think all the elements were there to make it a fun story, but ultimately it was missing forward motion and a cohesive plot. 

Other books in this series in the order that they should be read:
1. Etiquette and Espionage
2. Curtsies and Conspiracies
3. Waistcoats and Weaponry (expected publication 2014)


  1. I have this on audiobook, and it might be taking me months to wade through it (audiobooks and I...are trying to reconcile our differences), but it does seem very cute. I was surprised because I thought the protagonist was older or that these were prequels or something, but I'm enjoying it so far. It's always an adjustment to read middle grade (and like middle grade).

    1. This book would probably be better on audiobook I think. That kind of humor works better when read out loud. I also have a low threshold for this kind of humor. When it is too cutesy or it feels forced. Like humor for humor sake.



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