Saturday, February 23, 2013

Review: Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)


Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Finishing School, #1
Release date: February 5th 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown BfYR
Hardcover, 307 pages
Buy: The Book Depository



Before any of you start plotting my painful and untimely death, I should point out that I’m a big fan of Ms. Carriger’s previous work. The Parasol Protectorate series is a favorite of mine, despite losing some steam in the later installments. However, I don’t think Etiquette and Espionage was up to her usual standards, and it makes me very sad that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped I would. It took me a while to put my thoughts in order and figure out exactly what went wrong, at least for me, and even now I can only explain a part of it. In Parasol Protectorate, Carriger’s trademark sense of humor was what made the series stand out, but there was also some substance underneath, and the plots kept me engaged and interested. Etiquette and Espionage had neither, I’m afraid.

“But I have advanced eyelash fluttering to practice, and a mathematics problem concerning how to order strychnine and a lamb dinner on a limited budget, and three chapters on court etiquette to read, and my handkerchief to starch, and the quadrille to memorize!” “No one said learning etiquette and espionage would be easy, my dear.”

And it wasn’t easy, my dears. Not for our main character, Miss Sophronia Angelina Temminnick, and certainly not for me. What started out as entertaining, promising read, ended up almost suffocating me with repetitiveness and lack of an actual plot. A good sense of humor is not a band aid you can just slap over a pile of problems and hope your readers forget they’re there. It has been tried before, and as far as I’m concerned, it never, ever worked.

As a fan, I loved revisiting Alexia’s universe, but at the same time, seeing it reused left me with the impression that Gail Carriger took the lazy way out. This is the part I’m most conflicted about, but it’s also one I would have been glad to overlook had the rest been interesting enough. But in the end, the most interesting parts were those links to the Parasol Protectorate series.

It wasn’t just the world that was the same, some of the characters showed up too, albeit as much younger versions of themselves. Of all the crossover characters, I enjoyed meeting a nine-year-old Genevieve Lefoux the most and was delighted to learn that she preferred boys’ clothes even as a little girl.

There is no romance in Etiquette & Espionage, just hints of one that could develop uite beautifully in the future. While I adored the no-romance part itself, in combination with a very weak plot, it gave a pretty empty book.

It’s obvious by now that I’m the odd one out in this case, so please take my opinion with a grain of salt and make sure to read at least a few more reviews before making a decision. It’s all a matter of personal taste, after all. I’m prepared to give this series another chance because I adore Carriger’s sense of humor. Hopefully the next book will have a more exciting plot.



20 comments:

  1. Oh how very sad. Really sad. I loved The Parasol Protectorate and I hoped against the hope that the next series would be actually even better.

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  2. While I'm on the opposite side of the fence with this one (I adored it -- a bit over-the-top but so very proper and British and silly), I completely understand your issues. (See! This is why I love books and bloggers! So many different opinions!!) It seemed like this was a bit more of a set-up book, with a smaller plot and larger characters/worldbuilding. We'll see how it plays out in book 2, I guess!

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  3. I find myself in the minority quite a lot, so I can understand how you feel here. I haven't read anything of Gail Carriger's as yet, but I have heard good things. This one sounds sadly lacking. I'm sorry this was so disappointing for you, Maja, especially as you loved her Parasol Protectorate series. Thanks for the wonderful, honest review. :)

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  4. Very upsetting. I had not read The Parasol Protectorate, but I feel like I would very much more enjoy that book rather than her upcoming novel. Thank you for the review.

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  5. I love the honesty of this review, Maja! As you know, I am more often than not in the minority, so from what you've said, I doubt I'd like this. Actually, I seem to be shying away from novels with young teenage protagonists lately and a lackluster plot line is always trouble. I only read Soulless by Carriger, although I loved it, but never continued the series for fear it would lose steam - which it apparently did. I've won this book in a giveaway, so maybe I'll read it because of that, but probably not. I'll think about it again after I read your thoughts on the sequel. Fantastic review as always, dearest! :)

    P.S. - I can't wait to see what you think of Cinder and I started Moon Called today morning. SO FREAKING GOOD! :D

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  6. I hate when you love one book or series by an author and then the rest just aren't as good and leave you feeling flat. I haven't read any of these books yet but I would like to try the Parasol Protectorate books.

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  7. Uh-oh! To be honest, Maja, I was kind of afraid this would happen. The plotlessness of the last couple Parasol Protectorate novels left me wary of anything else this author published, and from reader reviews written by readers who WEREN'T familiar with Carriger's previous novels, it seemed like this author was being rather lazy with this. Hmm.

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  8. I'm sorry to hear you didn't enjoy this one so much. I am going to check out the Parasol series though since I have the first book on my kindle.

    I hope you find more of what you are looking for in the second book of this series. It seems that this one doesn't sound as good as her other series for you. Especially since humour is an attempted band aid. Never sounds good.

    Great review, Maja! :)

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  9. I don't think you are the odd one out with this book actually, Maja. Most of the reviews I've read for this have been 3 star reviews, which has dampened my enthusiasm for it a little. I appreciate good entertainment and humour most of the time, but not when there is a lack of decent plot. Sorry this didn't quite live up to your expectations. I'm ready to skip it altogether now. Lovely review!

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  10. You know, I am in the minority because I was not overly impressed with the first book of her other series, It was just okay for me, so I wasn't overly excited to pick this one up, then I read a bunch of good reviews and I was reconsidering but now I may not after your review, oh who am I kidding I am booked out for four months so it won't happen anytime soon.

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  11. I'm sorry to hear that! I recently read Soulless and I absolutely loved it, so I am looking forward to continue that series :) I've heard some good things about this book too and I still want to read it, but I will keep this in mind. The fact that there isn't a real plot sounds a bit disappointing.

    Mel@thedailyprophecy.

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  12. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one more Maja. I've just added the Parasol Protectorate now that you brought it to my attention, I wasn't too familiar with it before. But from your review, I won't be picking this up. Lovely honest review :)

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  13. I haven't read the previous series by this author, so I didn't know this was some sort of prequel. Is that right? I have this one, so it's a disappointment to find out it didn't meet expectations. I do love humor, but you know me Maja, I love my romance so another disappointment to find there's not much to be found in this. This is the 1st book, so maybe the next book will be better. Lovely and informative review. I now know what to prepare for. :)

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  14. Aw, I'm sorry you didn't love this one as much as everyone else (including me) did, Maja! I really loved the silliness of the plot personally, but I'm not sure if that would have always been the case had I been in a different mood when reading it. It's actually pretty exciting to hear you say you thought her previous series was funnier and had more substance because Etiquette & Espionage is my first exposure to Gail Carriger's work. So if I loved E&E then I will probably go crazy for her Parasol Protectorate series! Thanks for showcasing your point of review, Maja!

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  15. I've never read any of Carriger's books so I might like this one a little more than you despite the lack of plot, Maja. The worldbuilding seems solid and I like that there's plenty of humour.

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  16. Oh no! Sorry this one didn't work out for you. I can't really disagree about the lack of plot, but I guess I enjoyed the atmosphere and the humor so much, I sort of glossed over that. It felt like Lemony Snicket to me; clever and sort of darkly whimsical. But I can absolutely understand not enjoying it, especially if you're used to a higher quality of story set in the same fictional universe. This makes me all the more excited to get into Soulless! And I'm very glad to hear that I'll be seeing Vieve again. :-) Wonderful review, and thanks for your honesty!

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  17. Oh it's a shame Etiquette and Espionage didn't work out for you Maja, in the premise it comes across as though it has a very promising plot which will deliver! But a lack of humour and plot or engaging characters would probably result in a disappointing read for me too! I think I will still give this book a try, but maybe after picking up Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series. Lovely review hun! :)

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  18. Awwww I'm so sorry this was disappointing! I've never read any of Gail's previous work, though I've heard really good things about them. I'm still really looking forward to this, and I'll be sure to keep your review in mind when I read it :) Thank you for the honest & constructive review, hun :)

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  19. I only read Soulless and that was a long time ago so I missed any similarities. I mentioned in my review that it almost fell into whimsy overload for me at some points but I enjoyed it for the most part.

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  20. I'm reading this right now. I am a HUGE Carriger fan. I feel like this book started out strong, but now it's kind of leveled off. I'm about halfway through it, so we'll see what I think at the end. Thank you for your honest review!

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