My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Publication Date: February 5th 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
POV: 3rd person
Genres & Themes: YA-MG, Steampunk, Friendship.
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother’s existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea–and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right–but it’s a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine’s certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.
Really, I did not expect this to feel so young. It has such a middle grade vibe. And contains some immature characters.
The flywayman with the gun struck the headmistress across the face with his free hand.
‘‘Oh dear,’’ said Sophronia. ‘‘Violence.’’ She suppressed panic and a strange urge to giggle. She’d never before seen a grown man actually hit a woman.
Whaaat? And that would make you, Sophronia, giggle? *shakes head*
I didn’t like her as a character until maybe 75% of the story, when she seemed to have a little of a character development. The author seemed to want to make her seem strong and intelligent but there was always something she said or did that made me see her otherwise.
The story didn’t have a very interesting plot. It mostly felt simple, predictable. Also, some dialogs really felt absurd or unnatural in the story. It seemed. to me, that the author only included them for some effect.
‘‘Excellent. Ignorance is most undervalued in a student. And have you killed someone recently?’’
Sophronia blinked. ‘‘Pardon?’’
‘‘Oh, you know, a knife to the neck, or perhaps a cleverly noosed cravat?’’
She is fourteen years old, for God’s sake!
I can understand that they’re learning etiquette at school when not espionage skills, but learning to flutter their eyelashes? Is that really efficient?
Sophronia decided to practice a bit her eyelash-fluttering lesson.
The tall one didn’t seem overly impressed by her eyelashes. ‘‘How-d’ye-do, miss? I’m Phineas B. Crow.’’
‘‘Though everyone calls me Soap,’’ added Phineas B. Crow. ‘‘Because I needs it more than most.’’
Sophronia continued batting her eyelashes at him.
‘‘You got some soot in your eye, there, miss?’’
Ha ha ha. Mission unaccomplished.
Soap was a nice character and the fact that he has his own ”way of speaking” did not bother me at all.
My favorite character though was Pillover since he was one of the only ones making Sophronia
shut her mouth stop talking. And, when he spoke, I listened with interest.
She looked around. ‘‘Anyone know how to pick a look?’’
‘‘Some intelligencer you are,’’ complained Pillover.
‘‘I’ve only been there a month! I can curtsy now, and my eyelash fluttering is practically unparalleled.’’
‘‘Well, why not flutter your way into the locked room, then?’’
The writing is the same as in her Parasol Protectorate series. She has her own style, though I must admit that it is not my favorite for it is kind of simple and, in my opinion, this would have been better with a 1st person POV.
I said once that I could read any genre if only it contains some romance and, in this one, there isn’t really any of it. Too bad because there would have been plenty of couple possibilities.
It wasn’t a bad story but the plot could have been seriously more intriguing for it barely captured my attention from time to time. The only reason I’m not giving it a one star rating is because I did quite enjoy reading about two characters and there are some little elements here and there that are unique. As for example, there are, in this world-building, what they call ‘‘mechanimals.’’ They’re steampunk animals. How awesome is that?
My review on Goodreads.