Reviews for Etiquette & Espionage
Booklist Reviews 2012 November #2
*Starred Review* Set 25 years before her Parasol Protectorate series, Carriger's YA debut brings her mix of Victorian paranormal steampunk and winning heroines to a whole new audience. After an incident involving a plummeting dumbwaiter and an airborne trifle, Sophronia is sent to Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy to learn how to be a proper lady. Their carriage is immediately waylaid by flywaymen looking for a mysterious prototype--the first of many clues that this academy will not be the dreadful bore Sophronia expected. Once established at Mademoiselle Geraldine's (set on a chain of dirigibles!), Sophronia learns that she is a covert recruit into a school that trains girls to be part assassins, part spies, and also always fashionable ladies of quality. It's this last bit she has trouble with; in her self-assigned search for the prototype, she acquires an illegal mechanimal pet, befriends the boiler room sooties, and avoids both teachers and mechanicals to explore restricted areas, yet she can't master curtsying or eyelash fluttering. While the prototype plot isn't fully developed, Carriger's series starter more than makes up for it with cleverly Victorian methods of espionage, witty banter, lighthearted silliness, and a ship full of intriguingly quirky people. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Carriger has made major waves as a best-selling steampunker, and the promotion and outreach planned for this YA offshoot should continue that streak. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
In a parallel Victorian England, Sophronia is recruited by Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. Students aboard the academy dirigible learn "the fine arts of death, diversion, and the modern weaponries" from a faculty boasting a werewolf and a vampire. Blending intrigue and school story, Carriger introduces readers to a supernatural-meets-steampunk world full of action and wit.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #1
In a parallel Victorian England (the same steampunk setting of Carriger's adult series the Parasol Protectorate, but several years earlier) rambunctious, curious fourteen-year-old Sophronia Temminnick is recruited by Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. As Sophronia discovers en route when a band of airborne bandits known as flywaymen attacks her carriage and demands a "prototype," Mademoiselle Geraldine's is no ordinary finishing school. In addition to the requisite lessons in "dancing, drawing, music, dress, and the modern languages," students aboard the academy dirigible learn "the fine arts of death, diversion, and the modern weaponries" from a faculty boasting a werewolf and a vampire. Sophronia proves her derring-do by befriending the "sooties" who work in the boiler room (including charming Soap and girl inventor Vieve), acquiring a forbidden pet "mechanimal," and investigating the conspiracy to steal the as-yet-unidentified prototype -- in short, she's quite a promising student. Blending intrigue and elements of the school story, Carriger introduces teen readers to a supernatural-meets-steampunk world full of action and wit. katie bircher
Kirkus Reviews 2013 January #1
Finishing school is ever so interesting when you're learning how to poison your dinner guests with the mutton chops. Sophronia, infamous in her family for disassembling dumbwaiters and falling into custard, is horrified when she is sent to Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. But school isn't the dreadfully boring disaster Sophronia anticipates. In the academy--a collection of interlaced dirigibles--the girls learn music and intelligence gathering, cooking and defense against vampires, dance and rudimentary seduction. Along with her new chum Dimity, Sophronia learns the principles of fundamental espionage, discovering the academy's own secrets along the way. She assembles a lovable gang of misfits (an engine-room "sootie" and urchin mechanical whiz, a student from the nearby evil-genius academy and a steam-powered dog named Bumbersnoot) to assist her on a delightfully madcap espionage adventure. This genre-blender will introduce fans of Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls and Jennifer Lynn Barnes' The Squad to a world of mechanical maids and flying machines, while bringing a spy-school romp to readers of the weightier worlds of Cassandra Clare and Scott Westerfeld. It's higher on silliness and lower on romance than we have come to expect for this age range, but that just leaves more room for exploding wicker chickens. As Dimity says, "Who doesn't want an exploding wicker chicken?" (Steampunk. 11-15) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 January #2
When troublesome 14-year-old Sophronia is sent off to attend Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, she is none too happy about it. Her despair evaporates, however, when she learns that, at Mademoiselle Geraldine's, "finishing" means learning the finer points of deceit, espionage, and assassination. Far from a stodgy old castle, the school is a giant dirigible that floats above the moors. Effortlessly blending Victorian, paranormal, and steampunk elements, Carriger offers a feast of words (flywayman, mechanimals) and names (Dimity Ann Plumleigh-Teignmott, Phineas B. Crow) to lunch on in her YA debut, which is set in the world of her Parasol Protectorate books for adults, but several decades earlier. Carriger deploys laugh-out-loud bon mots on nearly every page ("But I don't want to be a vampire drone," Sophronia whines to her sister early on. "They'll suck my blood and make me wear only the very latest fashions"), and Sophronia is a capable and clever heroine. Amid all the fun, the author works in commentary on race and class in a sparkling start to the Finishing School series. Ages 12-up. Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary Agency. (Feb.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2013 March
Gr 6-9--Sophronia is far from the proper Victorian young lady she is expected to be. She would rather climb, take apart machinery, and cause a general ruckus than sit for tea and crumpets, making her a blight on her mother's reputation. She is enrolled in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality to learn proper decorum. But she soon discovers that its students are learning more than a proper curtsy. The school is a floating airship charged with teaching the skills of espionage. Sophronia is an early savant of sorts and quickly learns to use her skills to help thwart a fellow student in an attempt to steal a prototype essential to communications. The author touches on themes of gender identity and racial and social equality, though they are not developed thoroughly enough to either add to or distract from the story. Carriger's leading lady is a strong, independent role model for female readers. There is still more to be learned about the relationships of other characters who are integral to the story, perhaps in a sequel. Ladies and gentlemen of propriety are combined with dirigibles, robots, werewolves, and vampires, making this story a steampunk mystery and an adventure mash-up that is sure to intrigue readers who can get past the language of the time period.--Betsy Davidson, Cortland Free Library, NY [Page 150]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
VOYA Reviews 2013 February
Carriger enters the foray of young adult literature with this debut steampunk novel set in Victorian London. Steampunk is a reference to a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy that includes steam-powered machinery, and we learn early on that our main character, Sophronia, is a curious young lady and likes to tinker with machinery. Her very proper mother is vexed and at her wits' end dealing with Sophronia's antics. She has other children to prepare for the world of marriage and accepts a proposal for Sophronia to attend finishing school. From the very beginning, things are not what they seem, and finishing school is not what Sophronia expected. Besides learning how to curtsy, bat her eyelashes, and use a handkerchief properly, she learns how to distract enemies, use various weapons, and be deceitful. During her first semester at school, she befriends interesting characters, including a young girl masquerading as a lad, a "sootie" that works in the boiler room, and a peer that faints whenever she sees blood. Together, they must figure out what mysterious prototype is being sought by disreputable fellows before their school is attacked or her family harmed The richly detailed world of Etiquette and Espionage will appeal mostly to readers who like historical settings with elements of science fiction and fantasy blended in, as well as some paranormal. While the language is not difficult to read, readers will rely heavily on context to fully understand the terminology throughout the story. This is book one of a trilogy.--Valerie Burleigh 3Q 2P J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.