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Friday, June 6, 2014

"Curtsies & Conspiracies: Finishing School Book 2" by Gail Carriger (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)




Visit Gail Carriger's Official Website Here
 Read FBC's Review of Etiquette & Espionage Here

OVERVIEW: Sophronia, second year at Miss Geraldine's Finishing Academy, helps Dimity avoid London kidnappers and Vieve 10 attend Bunson boys' school. Someone kills for malfunctioning guidance valves that can control 'aether' atmosphere level. Again, she flirts with 'sootie' coal-worker Soap from the boiler room, and cuts Felix, son of Duke Golborne, at come-out ball. Teacher Captain Niall turns werewolf; vampire Prof Braithwope braves 'tether'; mechanimal Bumbersnoot plays essential role.

FORMAT: Curtsies & Conspiracies is the second book in the Finishing School series. It is a YA steampunk novel that has elements of romance, mystery, adventure, and humor. It stands at 310 pages and was published November 2013 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers. 

ANALYSIS: I have been following Gail Carriger's writing since her Parasol Protectorate series. Last year, when I came across her newest series Finishing School, I was delighted to see a 'spin off' of sorts.

The first novel in the Finishing School series had many of the same elements that Parasol Protectorate had. It had the bold, sarcastic main female character, the 'airy/spacy' sidekick, lots of humor, and the steampunk/vampire/werewolf mix. The only true difference was the target age group. Where Parasol Protectorate was more for a 'mature' audience, Finishing School was for a younger YA crowd.

Now, Gail Carriger has delighted readers with the second installment in the Finishing School series. While I enjoyed reading it and found it humorous, I struggled with pacing of the novel and the seemingly lack of a main plot.

I am sure that Curtsies & Conspiracies had a main plot. In fact, I remember bits and pieces of it, but sadly it was overshadowed by an overwhelming number of minor secondary plots and tid-bits.

For example, there was a love triangle between Sophronia, Soap, and Lord Mercer, there was a ball to debut one of the other sub-characters, and there was a 'test' of sorts where everyone ignored Sophronia. What I do not recall is the main 'mystery' adventure plot and even upon reading the description of the book, I still do not recall it. Obviously, it wasn’t able to shine.

Curtsies & Conspiracies does have all the same humor and wit that Gail Carriger brought to previous books, including the first of the series. However, this is certainly not her strongest nor her best novel. It dragged, it seemed skittish in plot flow, and really just seemed a bit out there with no real point to why it was written or a part of the series.

Gail Carriger did something similar with her first adult steampunk series too. The middle books didn't really seem to propel or move the plot of the series along and just seemed thrown out there like a silly after thought. They were fun to read – in the moment – but they didn't stick.

Overall, Curtsies & Conspiracies is a fast paced read that is delightful for the moment, but it didn't really leave a lasting impression on me due to the overwhelming secondary plots and lack of a main plot. Fans of Gail Carriger will certainly love this book, but it really does not represent her best work.

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