Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1)
published by Little Brown Books
genre: YA, Steampunk, Fantasy
Summary (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.
My Thoughts: We start with Sophronia trying to spy on company to find out what her mother is up to. This leads to all sorts of problems and ends up being a perfect example as to why she is being recruited for finishing school.
Sophronia is a great lead without being overdone. She's not perfect and doesn't always thinks first causing problems not only for herself but others as well. This makes her more likable and believable, she is not your typical "I'm perfect" lead (that's Monique). The other characters (some you'll recognize if you've read Carriger's adult series) add diversity and interest. Dimity and her brother Pill were my favorites after Sophronia.
Overall, this was a good start to a new series. I had some problems with the "mystery" surrounding the prototype. I didn't really feel like there were a lot of answers. We knew who had it but were never really told why they were doing it (was it just the money or was there more to it). It just felt slightly unfinished in that respect. Some of this may be cleared up when the next book comes out in November (2013).