Sunday, March 2, 2014

Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Curtsies & Conspiracies
by Gail Carriger

Published:  Little Brown and Company, Hachette Book Group
Format: Hardback
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 310
Genre: Fiction - Steampunkish
Source: own book

 "Miss Temminnick. Miss Plumleigh-Teignmott. With me, ladies, please."

Sophronia glanced up from her household sums. She was glad of the distraction. She was convinced she was miscalculating the purchase of the three most deadly flower arrangements. Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests?"

Curtsies & Conspiracies is the sequel to Etiquette & Espionage, and the second book in the Finishing School series, which is set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate books. Sophronia is back at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality and the game is still afoot. The story opens with the debuts getting their six month review, but shortly that is the least of Sophorina's worries. Several plot lines from the previous book are picked up and there are more developments.

Once again, the story is quite fun, in the style of a comic romp. It took me basically a day to read. The world-building is on the whole, interesting and vivid. The plot is a bit deeper and darker than the previous one, as Sophronia is now confronted with the consequences of her actions. This is a good development as she starts to have greater depth as a character. In a somewhat odd twist, the details of the book are well-drawn, intricate, and quite fascinating, but the overarching plot is rather a mess though. The wrapup at the end of the book was a bit of a downer.

I still quite like Sophronia, but she develops into a fully-blown Mary Sue in this book and there were too many instances of other characters doing something or being somewhere just so Sophronia could get what she needed. That got really annoying. I really hope that in the next book we are less beaten over the head by exactly how amazing and perfect Sophronia is and that Dimity and the others get more of a chance to contribute something better. I find ensemble work much more interesting.

The major down side to in this book that made it significantly less fun for me is that the author has started constructing a "love" triangle. WHY???  Why is it so impossible for books to have girls and boys be friends?  WHY?  That was the thing I was enjoying the most in the first book.  Several friendships developed and grew.  It was a welcome thing. Now for some bizarre reason we have a completely unlikely love triangle involving 15 year-olds. ARGH!!!  Unnecessary, majorly awkward and just plain creepy in many, many ways.  Being friends with a boy does not automatically mean that you suddenly MUST have romance developing. ARGH!!! again.

I still liked the story and am looking forward to the next book Waistcoats & Weaponry which will hopefully be released towards the end of the year. I didn't like how what was a fairly original story dovetailed so suddenly into standard YA tropes but I remain hopeful. Three and a half claws this time.

Warning   -   Smallish SPOILER  AHEAD   -      -      -     -     -    -     -      -     -     -     

The vampire stuff in particular started to annoy me when I began thinking about it.

So -  According to the story, queens are stuck inside their hives/homes. New queens can only be made by an existing queen, so do they end up in the same hive? Logic says no, based both on the analogies being used and the way the hives are described.  Is there a swarm as the new queen suddenly moves across London with a pack of drones and start a new hive?  Turning is apparently difficult but there are roves around that had to be turned by a queen - they get turned in some hive but then have some kind of tether to somewhere.  How are the tether points decided ?  There are some other aspects to how vampire society works that also don't make sense if you think too much about them.

Yes, I know that Sophronia is asking the same kinds of questions, so theoretically the answers will be related to future developments in the plot, but I am already having trouble with how this could possibly make any sense. 

 END   -   SPOILER     -      -      -     -     -    -     -      -     -     -     

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