With a deep sigh that only comes with finishing a good series, I swiped to the last page of Manners and Mutiny by Ms. Gail Carriger on Sunday. In reflection, of course there are many things I enjoyed about the books. If you’re not acquainted with her work, Ms. Carriger tells a story like no one else – such that her writing is half the fun. One of the first things that drew me to this series, was of course, the delightful Parasol Protectorate set (which remains my favorite). Naturally, I compared the two. And like my love of Tamora Pierce, I find that I much prefer the original series.
There is nothing wrong with Sophronia and her world, but in a critical look at the series (which I’m doing only because these books will be one of the closest set when my Queen trilogy is complete), I find a few things lacking. While perhaps my own concern (and no one else’s), I found the ‘big bad’ in each book and overall difficult to identify and therefore at the end of four books, not as much of a payoff as I would’ve liked. Again, my preference would be for a strong antagonist such that the resolve *feels* like a big ending (Cassandra Clare does this very well in her Infernal Devices series). Sophronia is wonderfully independent, but the love interest and entire romantic storyline also felt a bit forced. Like watching two actors on television who have no chemistry, that is how I felt with Soap and Sophronia (although MAJOR props to the author for creating a realistic and fitting end to this biracial couple).
However, there are a number of things Ms. Carriger does seamlessly – including her continuation of strong and developed supporting characters and fully realized world building.
Do I recommend the books? Of course!
Am I still insanely jealous of Ms. Carriger’s writing style? I am!
I’m enjoying the final adventure in Ms. Carriger’s YA Finishing School series (full review after I finish – hopefully tonight) and while there are many quotable lines, this is my favorite so far. As an author Ms. Carriger has such a wonderfully distinct writing style, I’m truly sad this series is coming to an end!
There are few books I look forward to as much as a new novel by Gail Carriger. And let’s get a few something cleared up immediately: I will buy anything Ms. Carriger writes, even if it is a treatise on the mating habits of grasshoppers (as I’m sure it would be nothing short of fascinating). Being a huge fan of the Soulless series and a new fan of the Finishing School series, I eagerly settled in to read Prudence (The Custard Protocol) (released on my birthday!). The hallmarks of a Carriger novel are all there – wonderfully diverse cast, laugh out loud lines, intricate details, unique steampunk touches and fabulous female characters. However, I think there can sometimes be too much of a good thing. While I did enjoy seeing my favorite characters from the previous series, I perhaps wanted a bit more of a break (which is why, at the moment the gals from the Finishing School are more a favorite than Prudence and her crew). Furthermore, as any editor or reader will tell you – begin where the action starts. In the case of Prudence, there is A LOT of, in my opinion, unnecessary action before the inciting event takes place. Once the story does take off, it’s still difficult to know exactly what the plot (if any!) there is. Without a true antagonist someone correct me if I’m wrong and the protagonist more or less stumbling into resolving the incidents in her life without real measure (except the constant use of her ability to change form), I was left feeling a bit ‘meh’ about the whole thing. While I still love be transported away to worlds unknown, I didn’t fall immediately latch onto Prudence as I did Alexia (Prudence’s mother). Nor, did I enjoy the (what felt like) extended terminology and discussion on air travel. As I am currently working on a steampunk novel of my own, I was hoping to be inspired, but honestly, was not. I would still recommend this book, but it fell a bit flat for me. I’m hoping the final book of the Finishing School series (already pre-ordered!) later this year will get me back on track!
Have you heard of these books by Gail Carriger? No. Well, you should. It’s one of the rare times I would say, ‘Do you like reading?’ If yes, then stop right there – this series is for you!
As I usually crap on other books I read, I thought I would be positive and put some words forward for a series I just devoured finished. First of all, I think the books had been somewhere on my radar over the past year. While I like Victorian / Regency romances, I hadn’t really looked into steampunk as a genre I would enjoy (and especially not one with paranormal elements). While I’m sure there are some other great books out there, I was very impressed with Ms. Carriger’s nearly seamless ability to:
1. Develop not only a great protagonist, but also a very well rounded ensemble cast.
2. Be a romance novel without being a romance novel. The lead characters get together and stay together. In this sort of period, many novels will not be able to hold the tension of lead characters much past their first ‘interaction.’ Ms. Carriger’s lead pair (among others) have healthy, interesting relationships that go the distance of the five novels.
3. World building / creativity within paranormal aspects. As audiences, we know werewolves and vampires. And yet, she makes them completely her own.
All of these points got another writer friend and I talking about why on earth these books had not yet been optioned as a television/film project. We both were in complete agreement that any of the characters would be great parts to add to any actors CV. If I was an actress of a certain age, I wouldn’t even wait – I would actively be searching out these properties and doing whatever was necessary to get them into production.