Saturday, 12 July 2014

Etiquette & Espionage

Level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy> Steam Punk
Obtained: Barnes and Noble
Reviewed by: Maggie W.

I'm a bit so-so on the cover for this novel. One the one hand I really love the background color/pattern, and the font design of the title but I really dislike the model on the cover. I think my main irritation is that her one arm is in an extremely uncomfortable looking post while the other seems to have disappeared, and her head seems oddly proportioned to her body. 

About the Book:
After reading and really enjoying my last book, The Clockwork Scarab, I went seeking more Steam Punk novels. This book and it's sequel came up on a lot of lists of go to Steam Punk novel lists. From the summary for the book it seemed to be just the thing I was looking for, Victorian Period- check, Finishing School- check, Girls working as assassins- check. Just from the premise of it being a book all about girls attending a finishing school that's actually a secret training school for female assassins seemed like a brilliant idea for a book. Boy was I wrong. 

Rating: 3/10
Where do I even start with this book? The book begins like a lot YA books I've read, teenage female protagonist is misunderstood/unappreciated by her family, so her family decides to send her away somewhere. Sophronia(literally every time I read that name it made me stumble over it in my head and cringe) is the exact opposite of what her mother would like her to be. She's forever causing trouble, making messes and is all-in-all a bane and embarrassment to her mother. In order to make her less troublesome, her mother decides that she's going to send her off to finishing school so Sophronia can learn all the skills she needs to be a proper, polite, finished young lady of breeding.
What her mother doesn't realize is that instead of sending her to a school where she'll learn how to curtsy and needle point, she's leaning ways to use those types of skills for disguise her skills as a spy and possible assassin. 
So far so good. 
Early on in the book, after arriving at her new finishing school that's apparently located on a series of blimps that are all tied together(how this works, I don't know), Sophronia learns that an important, mysterious item has been stolen from the school and the instructors at the school are desperate to have it back before it gets into the hands of, well, they're never super clear as to who exactly they want to keep it from specifically. 

I absolutely loved the idea of taking the common concept of a Finishing School and turning it on its head. I've always loved the kind of books where girls get to be something besides just something pretty to look at and that have the skills to take care of themselves. 
Bumbersnoot! At one point in the book, Sophronia acquires a mechanimal dog which she names Bumbersnoot. I could have read a book all about Bumbersnoot doing adorable coal-powered robot puppy things. She has to feet him bits of coal every day to keep him powered and he hilariously leaves little piles of robot puppy poop that are piles of coal ash. 
I also enjoyed that the author took time to make the other characters that were in Sophronia's group of classmates all have personalities of their own. 

I wanted so badly to like this book and just couldn't. It had a great concept idea for the story and the writing was pretty good, but this book was just flat out boring! I couldn't count the number of times I set the book aside to do other things and nearly chucked it into the DNF pile. The only thing that kept me reading til the end was that I kept thinking, the next chapter we're going to get to the main plot, and it just never happened. The book sort of just plunked along for 17 chapters until I was left staring at the last page wondering if I'd somehow missed a large chunk of text with the action of the book happened. 

What I'm Reading Next: 

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