Saturday, February 08, 2014

Etiquette & Espionage, by Gail Carriger

Sophronia is the type of girl to drive a mother mad.  Unlike her older sisters who managed to become proper young ladies, Sophronia is always managing to get into some sort of trouble (and always of the most unladylike nature!).  She can't even curtsy correctly! So, Mumsy is only too happy to send her errant offspring off to finishing school.  Little does the woman or her daughter realize what is in store.  Mme Geraldine's school for young ladies teaches poise and etiquette, but also deceit, subterfuge, and diversion.  It is a school for girls to learn how to get what they want one way or another (through coquetry or espionage).  And, in this case, what almost everyone seems to want (and is willing to kill for) is the prototype (whatever that is!).

Apparently based on Carriger's popular steampunk universe The Parasol Protectorate, this new series of YA novels imagines the adolescents' view of a world of steam power, vampires, werewolves, Picklemen, and flywaymen.  Not being so well versed in steampunk, the concepts were a bit odd for me and seemed a bit too precious and pretentious.  The counterposing of traditional finishing school subjects with espionage is a cute joke the first couple of times, but after a couple hundred pages, the humor grows stale.  Much like steampunk fashion for me, the book is pretty to look at, but seems to paint itself in an artistic corner from which there is little room to move.

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