A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Etiquette & Espionage is the the first book in the Finishing School series by popular adult author Gail Carriger. Like her other novels, this one -- her first for the YA audience -- features strong female and male role models and a puzzling mystery set in a steampunk Victorian world. Fourteen-year-old Sophronia attends a finishing school for assassins, where she learns to pick locks and use high-tech weaponry (dangerous knives, scissors) -- as well as how to be a lady. While there's murder or death in the novel, guns, bows and arrows, and cannons are used by adults, and there's mild hand-to-hand combat, gambling, and knife fighting. A budding interracial friendship/romance is one plot thread. Because Etiquette & Espionage is set in Victorian times, terms such as "colored" are used to describe Soap, the male love interest, who's black. Werewolves and vampires give the story a supernatural twist.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Tomboy Sophronia Temminnick is sent to Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality to learn how to become a proper lady ... or so she and her mother are led to believe. Much to Sophronia's delight, she discovers that the school isn't what it appears to be -- it's actually an academic institution for training young women to be spies and assassins. (Finishing school is for \"finishing\" someone off.) At Mademoiselle's, Sophronia quickly makes both good friends and bitter rivals. But she also learns how to become the lady her mother always wanted her to be, as well as a dangerous assassin ... who always knows how to get out of a jam. Along with Sophonia's adventures at the academy, she solves a mystery, falls in love, and saves the day, time and time again.
Is it any good?
ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE is a delightful first book in a promising new YA series by Gail Carriger, author of the fantastic Parasol Protectorate series for adults. Here, Carriger does everything right. Just like her other steampunk novels, Etiquette & Espionage is a fabulous story filled with wit, uproarious dialogue, and a heroine who's cool, intelligent, and extremely clever.
Unique names, such as Sophronia Angelina Temminnick, Dimity Ann Plumleigh-Teignmott, Monique de Pelouse, and Phineas B. Crow (aka Soap), will leave readers tongue-twisted. And original gadgets, weapons, and air transportation, as well as powerful robots and mechanical animals, will spark readers' imagination. Bravo!
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how interracial dating has been viewed in different eras. Do you think Sophronia and Soap will be able to find love in Victorian times?
What do you think of the steampunk genre? Do you like the mix of history, science fiction, and the paranormal?
Are the characters admirable, despite their training? Should that be the case?
- Author: Gail Carriger
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, History, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Trains
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: February 5, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 17
- Number of pages: 307
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
- Last updated: June 20, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love sci-fi and history
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.