Book Review | Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger


Side note: the girl on this cover is WAY too old to be 14. When will cover designers start choosing models who actually match the characters they’re trying to present? *generic screeches* 

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. – from Goodreads

Etiquette & Espionage, despite being two words I consistently fail to spell correctly, was a very interesting book. At first, I thought it was too juvenile to even be considered MG* but I then began to see juvenile aspects as hilariously funny. I even laughed out loud whilst reading! The writing seemed to be a little tongue-in-cheek at times, as if Carriger was just having a whale of a time instead of writing a book (wait, aren’t they the same things?) but I don’t think the intended audience would pick up on the tongue-in-cheekness. I think that they would find it funny in the places I did, though. This book was light-hearted. It poked fun a lot of the time, and was series in the appropriate places.

I thought that some aspects of the novel, like the names, people, the names, were almost too ridiculous to be in the novel. I mean, our main character is called Sophronia, her best friend’s brother is called Pillover, and her pet is called Bumblesnoot. Whilst brilliant, these names seemed rather ridiculous. I began to skip over Sophronia’s name, otherwise it sparked an internal argument of how any parent could call their child Sophornia.

However, it was an interesting novel. I enjoyed reading it. I definitely thought it picked up when they arrived at the finishing school, but although the plot was simplistic, it was fun (and I won’t lie – I didn’t guess a lot of what happened). Do not pick this work up if you are looking for a great work of literature, my friends. Pick this book up if you want a bit of fun. That is what it delivered.

I did think the plot was a little too reliant on luck, which (of course), paid off, but as I said, I did like it. I liked having a dual plot – Sophronia (snort) learning about finishing school, and trying to stop the antagonist from doing their thang in the process.

I also loved Captain Niall. What can I say – I have a soft spot for werewolves. I sincerely hope he is a more prominent character in the next novel.

Overall? This book was fun, it was flirty with the genre and its intended audience (that, of course, is another thing to remember – I may have thought it simplistic and/or ridiculous, but I am 18 years old, not 10-14), it was a nice little middle grade steampunk novel. I’ve noticed more and more steampunk novels popping up, especially in the MG genre, so it’s been really brilliant to read one. I will be picking up book 2 in the series. (And 3, and 4.) 3.5/5 stars.

AND YES! I will definitely be picking up Parasol Protectorate series too. And not just because it has a supposedly handsome werewolf and mentions of food in it, no… hahah… haha… ha.

TITLE: Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1)
AUTHOR: Gail Carriger
GENRE: *Middle Grade (MG) steampunk
ISBN: 9781907411588
PERSONAL SOURCE: Borrowed from the library
RATING: 3.5/5


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