Sophronia doesn't either-she is a headstrong main character and that was definitely a huge plus. In the beginning I kept reading because I was interested in what the finishing school would be like. You know going into it that there is something unusual about Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality and the idea that someone impersonates Mademoiselle Geraldine when they come for Sophronia makes for an exciting idea until the impostor, Monique, doesn't know how to get them back to school. Sophronia steps in a saves the day when the flywaymen attack their coach and figures out a way to get them back to school. This after Sophronia's already spent her morning falling out of the dumbwaiter back home.
The professors and Mademoiselle Geraldine are not your usual finishing school teachers but the most fun is to be had below deck-the whole school travels around in a blimp-like airship. Sophronia adopts a mechanical dog and needs coal to feed him so she climbs down to the coal room where she meets Soap. A young coal shoveler and a flirt, Soap leads the pack of sooties and finds time to help Sophronia out on several adventures. Their coy relationship probably would be reason enough to read the second book as Soap definetely piqued my interest.
Monique also plays a worthy adversary to Sophronia, her friends Dimity, Sidheag, and the cross dressing Genevieve. There is a fair amount of girl drama throughout the story as the all-girl student body pull together and apart as they try to solve the prototype mystery aboard the airship. Now that I've rehashed it I think I may have liked it after all. I did do a little research on steampunk which helped yet the one thing I didn't get are all the odd names. Carriger's names do not roll off your tongue; they are unique and creative. Mrs. Barnaclegoose, Sophronia Temminnick, Lady Kingair, Captain Niall (the werewolf), and Professor Braithwope are all examples of the comical names Carrigan chooses.
"Sidheag slapped Sophronia on the back, hard enough to cause her to lurch forward and cough. "Good on you! If you had to make an enemy of anyone, Monique is certainly a high-end choice. Top-quality bit on that one. And many thanks-now we're all stuck with her." (90)
Thank you to Little, Brown, and Co. for this review copy but that in no way influenced my thoughts on Etiquette & Espionage; Finishing School, Book the first. Now that I'm of the mind to read the second I wonder how soon Ms. Carriger will have it done and what comical new names will she invent for me to wonder about? Steampunk fan or not this is an easy book to enjoy (except for the names of course).