Series: Finishing School #1
Format Read: Hardcover
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Buying Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble The Book Depository
Book Blurb from goodreads:
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. Temminick 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.
Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail Carriger's legions of fans have come to adore.
I very much enjoyed Carriger's Parasol and Protectorate series. I'm not a big YA reader so I wasn't sure if I'd read this series but the book trailer, the cover and the blurb sold me. I knew I had to give it a shot.
While I enjoyed this book, I didn't love it. It had moments of humor in the same vein as the Parasol Protectorate but it was missing something. The world building was adequate, I enjoyed seeing the younger Sidheag and Genevieve, but there were unlikely coincidences and a few too many predictable events. The resolution of the mystery was rushed, humorous, and a little too neat.
I did like the details Carriger used; if you haven't read the Parasol Protectorate series, you're not at a loss. Carriger fills in the details and fleshes out the world nicely. There are even more Steampunk elements (though the scene in the school's records room was over the top and unnecessary. A more typical filing system would have made more sense.) There's a definite British feel to the story and Carriger still has the knack for sending up customs and mores.
I enjoyed the character of Sophronia and seeing the changes in her though her type is nothing new - tomboy, free-spirited girl is thrust into social situation, ie finishing school, that she's not prepared for, makes enemy of popular girl, befriends the underdogs and people in low paces, etc. Still, she's interesting and enjoyable and so is the cast of characters. I liked that Carriger does us show more of what life is like for both the lower upper-class and the actual lower-class which we didn't really get in the Parasol Protectorate except for occasional glimpses of Ivy's life. I was also happy to see the inclusion of a person of color. Right now Soap (it's a nickname) is mostly cardboard but I have hopes he'll develop as the series goes on. I enjoyed this book enough that I'll definitely pick up the next book.
Some fun quotes:
"Mummy and Daddy want him to be an evil genius, but he has his heart set on Latin verse."..."Face it, Pill, you're disappointingly good." "Oh, I like that! And you're so evil? Why, you want to get married and be a lady." (Later we get references to levels of evil geniuses such as discourteous genius and spiteful genius.)
"We had lessons in knife-fighting from a werewolf." "Werewolf? Bully! We don't have any supernaturals here. It's quite a dearth in the deanship if you ask me. Any reputable school ought to have at least one vampire professor. Eton has three. You lot are only girls, you've a vampire and a werewolf. Jolly unfair, that's what I call it."
"Algebra was far more interesting when it was a matter of proportioning out mutton chops so as to poison only half of one's dinner guests and then determining the relative value of purchasing a more expensive, yet more effective, antidote over a home remedy."
I borrowed this from my local library.