Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Saturday, May 3, 2014

Plot Summary:
Sophronia Temminick is not the average girl. Unlike most her age, and time, Sophronia loves taking things a part to see how they work and she craves adventure. However, her mother decided to send her of to Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality because there is no way that Sophronia could ever make a suitable bride when she traipsing about the house and hiding in the dumbwaiter. After being spirited away in a coach, Sophronia meet Dimity and her brother, Pillover. Now why would a boy be off to a school that was meant for young ladies? Secondly, why is the carriage being attacked by Flyaway Men? After wrangling the reins of the carriage from the stunned coachmen, Sophronia manages to save everyone, including Mademoiselle Geraldine, from danger. However, why would a coach filled with young women, and one young man, be attacked by Flyaway Men who are demanding the prototype from Mademoiselle Geraldine? Well, here's the problem:  Mademoiselle Geraldine is really a young lady named Monique (incognito) who is on a secret mission to deliver, and protect, an item (aka. The Prototype) of utmost importance. In fact, this journey takes an even stranger turn when Sophronia and company meet a real-live werewolf who helps them aboard a flying apparatus called a dirigible. When Sophronia finally meets the headmistresses, she learns that Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is really a finishing school, but also trains young women to be intelligencers or assassins; hence, why Dimity refers to Sophronia as a convert recruit. Although this excites Sophronia, these lessons prove even more difficult when she has to learn to curtsy and combat all at the same time. Moreover, she must figure out what the prototype is and why the Flyaway Men want it.

Critical Evaluation:
Etiquette & Espionage is incredibly fun! I absolutely love Sophronia because her quirks and her intelligence just make the story awesome. I will say that this is definitely an original steampunk adventure where young ladies are actually trained to be more that well-mannered ladies. The best part about this story is that Mademoiselle Geraldine has absolutely no idea what's going on her own school, which goes to show that manners and beauty does not replace common sense. As I said earlier, Sophronia is like many of the young ladies that I work with who are not only brilliant, but have a quick whit and the drive, which will help them do great things. Sophronia is criticized and often ridiculed because she likes to take things apart, master the art of dumbwaiters, and takes very little interest in the finer things such as: dancing, curtsying, and manners. With most steampunk stories, the time period is very similar to that of the Victorian era, which is obvious because this is all about a finishing school that teaches girls to be ladies who can wield knives. With that said, upper and middle class girls had no say in their futures and were expected obey and conform to the roles they were born into; hence, why finishing schools were popular. Well, for Sophronia, she is definitely in for a treat since she happens to be the covert recruit where her daily lessons require her to move more than her pinky. Although Sophronia has very little in common with the rest of the girls, she learns that they all possess certain attributes that she grows to admire. In fact, through her lessons, Sophronia can finally be herself where the only ridicule she receives is that of jealousy, especially when it comes to Monique. This is definitely a book for the spirited reader who is looking for the next great adventure.

Information about the Author:
According to her website:
New York Times Bestselling author Gail Carriger writes 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. Ms. Carriger then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She resides in the Colonies, surrounded by fantastic shoes, where she insists on tea imported from London. Gail's books are published in over a dozen different languages and she recieved the Prix Julia Verlanger from French readers.
The Parasol Protectorate books are:Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, and Timeless. Soulless won the ALA's Alex Award and has been turned into a graphic novel. Her young adult Finishing School series begins with Etiquette & Espionage and follows the exploits of Sophronia, a young lady who soon discovers her dreaded lady's seminary is a great deal more than anyone realizes. In the Custard Protocol series, beginning with Prudence, Rue and her crack (or possibly cracked) dirigible crew get into trouble around the Empire on behalf of queen, country, and tea.

Genre:
Teen Steampunk, Teen Adventure


Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

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Awards & Recognition:
From Amazon.com:

"Carriger's YA debut brings her mix of Victorian paranormal steampunk and winning heroines to a whole new audience...with cleverly Victorian methods of espionage, witty banter, lighthearted silliness, and a ship full of intriguingly quirky people."—Booklist (starred review)

* "[A] delightfully madcap espionage adventure..."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

* "Carriger deploys laugh-out-loud bon mots on nearly every page...Amid all the fun, the author works in commentary on race and class in a sparkling start to the Finishing School series."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

* "Carriger's leading lady is a strong, independent role model for female readers... Ladies and gentlemen of propriety are combined with dirigibles, robots, werewolves, and vampires, making this story a steampunkmystery and an adventure mash-up that is sure to intrigue readers..."
School Library Journal (starred review)

"Blending intrigue and elements of the school story, Carriger introduces teen readers to a supernatural-meets-steampunk world full of action and wit."—Horn Book

"If spunky Lady Sybil from Downton Abbey happened onto a steampunk set, she might look a lot like Sophronia Angelina Temminnick."
ShelfAwareness

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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