Author: Gail Carriger
Goodreads: Curtsies & Conspiracies
Release Date: November 5, 2012
I practically wrestled Liz at Assorted Leafs to get first chance at this sequel to Etiquette & Espionage - and even after I won, I'm STILL behind her in posting my review.
Carriger's adult series, Parasol Protectorate, ranks in my Top 10 for all-time best series. She has a wonderful way with characters and a humor that's top notch. Parasol Protectorate has wonderful, strong female characters, but it's definitely an A-D-U-L-T series. Finishing School keeps the same strong, amazing female characters, and brings in themes that YA readers will have a easier time identifying with - friends, grades, cliques, and dangerous floral arrangements.
The first book in the series was high on adventure and character building and low on romance and C&C keeps that pace beautifully. There are romances budding but they don't overtake the characters or the story itself. Sophronia knows her mind and applies logic liberally to any romantic situation that she comes across. On the one hand, this keeps her from falling into a ridiculous, dramatic relationship with a Bunson boy who has set his sights on her; on the other hand, if she's not careful, keeping her distance could cost her a great friend and ally in future books.
The web of plots in the second book is much wider and much messier than in the first - not only is there another Mysterious Device to contend figure out, now the girls are set to go to London to participate in a Mysterious experiment that has caught the eye of the vampires, the werewolves, the Picklemen, and the Queen herself. Almost everything wraps up in the end, but there is no pretty little bow. Sophronia experiences first hand that even her most well laid plans can have terrible consequences.
I have yet to read a book by Gail Carriger that isn't a solid, fantastic piece of writing, so it goes without saying that this book rocks and should be read by anyone with an interest in, well, books.