Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book 65: Etiquette and Espionage

This novel is the first in a YA series that takes place in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger.  I haven't actually read that series yet, so I'm not entirely sure why I chose to try out this spin off first, but it was a cute, fun novel.  It skews a bit younger than most of the YA I've read, which also means that while a few of the girls at boarding schools talk about how cute some guys are, there isn't actually a romance.  Instead, it's about friendships, and girls training to be assassins and spies in what advertises itself as a finishing school.  Also, I think a few things may have had more context if I had already read Carriger's adult series, but her use of Sophronia as the main character works very well for the uninitiated.  There may be things that the new reader and Sophronia don't get because of lack of background but since this whole world is new to Sophronia, the reader finds things out as she does.

Sophronia is the younger daughter in her family and a bit of a trouble maker.  Her older sister is interested in all the proper feminine things but Sophronia is too curious and constantly gets herself into trouble.  As a result, her mom decides to send her to boarding school but much to Sophronia's surprise, the school actually trains its students in espionage as well as traditional etiquette.  Even though Sophronia lives in this steam punk setting, she has been very sheltered and mostly only heard about many of the things she encounters at school, including werewolves and vampires.

While most of the novel focuses on the school and lessons, Sophronia and her new friends are also aware of a plot and a potential attack on the school for the prototype.  The girls don't exactly know what it is, and in many ways it's more of a MacGuffin, simply something to add focus and an action, though I would have been happy just reading about Sophronia's day to day adventures at school.  I expect I'll pick up the rest of Carriger's novel when I'm in the mood for something light and entertaining with some untraditional women.