After one unladylike incident too many, fourteen-year-old Sophronia Angelina Temminnick gets packed off to Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. But the phrase "Finishing School" has more than one meaning, and while Sophronia's family assumes that she'll be off learning the Art of the Perfect Curtsy, Sophronia is delighted to discover that in addition to the expected lessons in How to Pour the Perfect Cup of Tea, Mademoiselle Geraldine's storied institution offers training in combat, espionage, poisons, and assassination.
Pros: Clever and funny and fast-paced, with chapter headings like The Teaching Habits of Werewolves and How Not to Flirt, and character names like Mrs. Barnaclegoose and Pillover Plumleigh-Teignmott. In addition to the General Air of Fun, there are threads that deal with social and economic class. While it deals with issues surrounding differences of all sorts, Sophronia herself has a nicely blase attitude of inclusiveness in re: characters who are different from her in terms of ethnicity, social class, species, etc.
Cons: There's so much going on that A) there's not much depth of character and B) the storyline occasionally feels like a confused snarl. A consistantly entertaining confused snarl, to be sure, but it DOES get quite muddy at times.
Recommended to: Fans of Carriger's Parasol Protectorate books (obviously), as well as fans of Y.S. Lee's The Agency books (though it should be noted that this book is far less serious than the Lee books).
I actually really like both covers, though I suspect that the one on the left will be more attractive to teen readers.
Incoming college freshman Daniel adores his Da:
Because he is a cool grandfather, always was. Retired early from some government job that was something like systems analyst for the Department of Agriculture. Never, ever talked about his work. Might have been because who in his right mind would ever have bothered to ask about a job as boring as that? Might have been.
The thing is, though, as Da slips further and further into dementia, he starts talking more and more about his career... and it quickly becomes clear to Daniel that Da's former profession wasn't boring AT ALL. Soon, men come looking for Da, wanting to shut him up by any means necessary. So Daniel takes him on the run... and it's a decision that will change his life forever.
Pros: Crackling, believable dialogue, and a storyline that features moments of such tension that my skin is crawling just thinking about them. Despite the brevity of Daniel's voice, the complexity of the familial relationships is top-notch.
Cons: None for me, though this is very much going to be one of those Love-It-Or-Hate-It books. If watching a seemingly-well-adjusted kid morph into a sociopath is an unattractive prospect, I'd give it a miss.
Recommended to: Did you like the movie Drive? Then this book might really work for you.
Author page: Carriger.
Author page: Lynch.
Book source (both): ILLed through my library.