Monday, April 21, 2014

What we're reading: Steampunk

The best way I can describe Etiquette and Espionage, by Gail Carriger (to give you a frame of reference) is that it's like Ally Carter's book, I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You, only it takes place on a dirigible with steampunk trappings. So, boarding school for girls: check. Secret agenda at said boarding school (training girls to be spies): check. Intrepid protagonist who flouts the rules to achieve her objective: check.

And was cute. It was quirky. Some of it was ingenious. It was also overly self-conscious, and if I'm going to be absolutely truthful, I became a little bored with it. The action just wasn't there (like it is in Carter's series). I felt like it took forever to get to any kind of a plot. I mean, something happens in the first chapter, and it takes until halfway through the book before you find out definitively what it is and what it's for (sort of), and then it takes until the LAST chapter for anything to resolve? Not worth the wait.

I felt like a lot of the adult characters were unnecessary and just cluttered up the scenery, while the subsidiary teen characters (like Monique) were kind of one-dimensional, verging on stereotypical. I did like Sophronia (the protagonist), and Genevieve Lefoux, and also the character of Soap, just for the contrast of the coal stoker to the society girls, and I loved the "mechanimal" dog.

I see from some of the reviews on Goodreads that this is a YA prequel of sorts to the author's adult series, the Parasol Protectorate. Maybe, if I had read those books first, I would be more charmed by this?

I give it a 3/5: readable and entertaining, but not one of my faves. That said, if you are a steampunk devotee (which I am not), you might like this a lot better than I did. The sequel, Curtsies and Conspiracies, is also in our library.

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