Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

February 12, 2015 Reviews 13

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail CarrigerEtiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Narrator: Moira Quirk
Series: Finishing School #1
Published by Brown Books for Young Readers, Hachette Audio on February 5, 2013
Genres: Steampunk, Young Adult
Pages: 307
Length: 8 hours 55 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased

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.

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.

Sometimes a book’s description and cover really fail in preparing you for the mood of the book. That’s what happened to me with Etiquette & Espionage. While the subject was exactly as described, it was far more ridiculous than I expected. Ultimately I enjoyed it, but it took me some time to adjust my expectations and embrace the ridiculous.

When Etiquette & Espionage first started I really enjoyed Safronia’s mishap with the dumb waiter that landed food all over a visitor and expedited her way off to finishing school. And it was a quality I continued to enjoy in Safronia the whole book. She is into mischief and struggles with being lady-like.

What threw me was both the adults and the scenarios. I can’t think of any better way to describe them than ridiculous. I expected a realm of believability, but you’ve got lessons in things like fainting and attack maneuvers involving fans and perfume to make a werewolf sneeze. Even more ridiculous was when the maneuvers worked. I think, though, that the ridiculous elements were well done and if you’re the sort of person that enjoys movies like Dumb and Dumber or something equally ridiculous, you would probably get a good laugh from Etiquette & Espionage. I, as a rule, am not – so I did lots of eye rolling.

But my eye rolling was tempered by some really great moments – Safronia’s friends are lovable, as is her mechanical dog, Bumbersnoot (the names fit with the ridiculous). If you like steam punk for its clothing and mechanical aspects, which I guess I do, Etiquette & Espionage has loads of that to enjoy. And there’s even vampires, werewolves and flyway men – although those all kind of ended up appealing more to fans of the ridiculous than the paranormal lovers, in my opinion.

I do highly recommend the audio version of Etiquette & Espionage if you decide this sounds like one for you, since Moira Quirk was quite good. I enjoyed her voices and she clearly understood the ridiculous, somehow making those bits more enjoyable.

I haven’t decided if I’ll continue with this series or not. I liked the mystery and characters, so I’m tempted to continue. I’d just have to get myself into the right mood before picking up another.

3 stars Just Okay

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About Gail Carriger

Ms. Carriger writes steampunk urbane fantasy comedies of manners to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning. She then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She now resides in the Colonies, surrounded by a harem of shoes, where she insists on tea imported directly from London and cats that pee into toilets. Her books are all New York Times Bestsellers.
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About Berls
Berls has been a book lover her whole life. She reads pretty much every genre and is currently working hard at making her childhood dream of becoming an author come true. She loves sharing her thoughts about books, blogging, and just random fun stuff. She's a challenge and read-a-thon junkie, so it's no wonder that she loves co-hosting the COYER reading challenge. Leave a comment, Berls is always happy to chat!

13 Responses to “Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger”

  1. Lola

    I always thought this book sounded interesting, but after reading some reviews I decided not to read it. I don’t think I could deal with the ridicilous very well. I have read one of this authors adult books and while it was okay, it just didn’t woo me and haven’t read any of her other book. It does sound like this book had some nice moment. I had the same thing with her adult book, it had some nice moments, but in the end it was just okay.
    Lola recently posted…My To-Be Read List #6: chosen bookMy Profile

  2. Jessica

    I’m sorry this was uber ridiculous. I read and liked the first book in Carriger’s adult steampunk series, but it was quite ridiculous too, so I can only imagine how much more so a YA version could be. I think I’ll still to the former if I ever feel compelled to dive back into her world 😉 Thanks for the honesty!
    Jessica recently posted…Review: Seraphina by Rachel HartmanMy Profile

    • Berls

      You’re welcome! It really surprised me too – not that it’s necessarily bad, but it is a type of humor that you have to be in the right mood for.

    • Berls

      Was it also on the ridiculous side? I don’t think I’ll go back either – I just have so much to read that I don’t feel like wasting time on a maybe.

  3. Stormi

    I really liked this one but I was use to the author because I read some of her adult novels which are just as least I think they are funny while you thought it ridiculous. :);)
    Stormi recently posted…Review of SeekerMy Profile

    • Berls

      Hehehe well it’s definitely a kind of humor that doesn’t tend to appeal to me – but a lot of people love this kind of humor. I think my brother would really enjoy it too.

    • Berls

      I know, I love steam punk too and I haven’t read a whole lot of YA steampunk so I was excited by that. But yeah, it really wasn’t my favorite kind of humor.

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