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Review: Etiquette & Espionage

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Title:Etiquette & Espionage

Author:Gail Carriger

Series:Book 1

Rating★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 

Synopsis

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 they 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.

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Sophronia was great, she was resourceful, energetic, and adventurous. I liked that she was always true to herself as well.

Dimity was a great best friend. And it made me laugh that she was always fainting during the important parts. She was very loyal and kind.

Monique was honestly so annoying, haha. She was overdramatic and thought she was better than everyone. She seemed very entitled.

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Lady Linette says style is everything; one’s shoes are as important as one’s thoughts, and possibly more powerful in the correct context,” said Preshea, sounding as though she were reciting from a broadsheet.

I had fun reading this one. It made me laugh because it just had this really formal, kinda serious tone and then there would be these ridiculous lessons about how to pretend to faint and how to look proper while holding a weapon. It just had this interesting combination that made it kind of badass.

The lessons were definitely one of my favorite parts. The book didn’t focus on them so much that it was overwhelming, but it was enough to get a feel for how the school worked. The staff were also pretty interesting characters. We had werewolves, vampires, all these robots/machines running around, a teacher that actually had no idea what was going on at the school. Haha, it was just an overall crazy environment and collection of characters.

As I said, I liked the main character, Sophronia because of how resourceful and observant she was. She didn’t quite fit in with her normal life, but she flourished at the school (although even among the girls she was always a little different). Sophronia was willing to take chances, didn’t mind getting dirty, and was constantly looking for another adventure.

The rest of the girls/students (besides Monique and Dimity) felt kind of bland. They weren’t very memorable to me. I think that was one downside to Sophronia being so adventurous and independent. There wasn’t too much room for the other characters to make memorable impressions and be a part of her plans besides being mentioned in passing.

“I visited the land of soot and fire.” 

“Sophronia, really. Do you mean to traumatize me with riddles first thing in the morning? If so, I should warn you, I’d consider that grounds for rescinding all offers of friendship.”

Now, while I thought the writing/tone of the story made for an interesting combination with the setting… it also made it feel slow in parts. Whenever the characters weren’t actually sneaking around to find out something or get something done my attention tended to slip. Just something about the writing would make it seem overly flowery and so when there wasn’t action it felt too descriptive, casual? It’s hard to really explain in words.

As for the plot, it felt pretty straightforward. There weren’t any really big surprises since Sophronia’s first “mission” (let’s call it that) in this book wasn’t that complex. She just had to find out where something was being hidden. I think I would’ve liked something more involved, but I think with this being her first year its kind of understandable why the author didn’t jump into something bigger.

I think it wasn’t one of my top favorite reads this year, but it was still fun and entertaining enough to continue. I’m looking forward to seeing where Sophronia’s school career takes her and what adventures she’ll go on next. 

 

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