Apologies for the late arrival of this week’s BotW post – I’d somehow convinced myself that I’d already written this piece because all I seem to have done this week is think about the end of the Finishing School series. But no, clearly I dreamt it. Anyhow, it’ll be no surprise to anyone who’s been following my social media in the last week that the BotW is Manners and Mutiny – the last book in the Gail Carriger’s Young Adult Finishing School series.
In book four, we find Sophronia back at school on board Madame Geraldine’s floating dirigible, but with a somewhat denuded gang. No-one’s listening to her warnings about the Picklemen and she’s still not really sure where her future lies. When danger threatens the ship and life as she knows it, she has to put all her training to the test as we what happened to make Sophronia’s world of mechanicals turn into the society we know from the Parasol Protectorate.
And that’s about all that I can say, without giving away big old spoilers. And even that last sentence is a bit of a spoiler, but I think Carriger readers have all been waiting since Etiquette and Espionage to see what on earth happened to turn one world into the other! Or if you’re like me and E&E was your first Gail Carriger book and the gateway to the rest, to explain the moment at the start of Soulless where you were all “Huh? Where did the mechanical servants go?”
So, it’s no secret that I’m a big Carriger convert, having basically read everything she’s written over the past year (see 2014 Discoveries post, my BotW posts on Timeless and Prudence and E&E’s mention in my YA Roundup) – and I was worried that this wouldn’t live up to the hype that I had set up in my head. So many questions needed answering and it seemed like a bit of a mammoth task for one book to deal with. I went so far as to re-read all three of the previous books at the start of last week so that I had everything fresh in my mind for the last book – and I can’t say that I spotted anything that wasn’t addressed or tied up (with a bow). And it’s still a good read. It doesn’t feel like a tying up the loose ends book. It feels like Ms Carriger had a plan at the start of the series, and has executed it masterfully – leaving a trail of breadcrumbs through the books for us to follow so that in this last one it all slots together and clicks into place. And as you do this, you smack your head and wonder how you missed the clues. So clever.
But I have to say that this is not the place to start your Carriger experience. Do yourself a favour and start with the first book in the series. Or if you’re not technically a Young Adult, start with Soulless and read them first and then come to Finishing School and see how clever it all is. I’m so sad Finishing School is over, but it was a deeply satisfying series and never felt like it was going on too long. If I hadn’t just finished listening to Soulless on audiobook, I’d be going straight on to read that again. As it is I’m halfway through the recording of Changeless, so I’m still in Carriger-land. And I can’t wait for Imprudence.
Get your copy of Manners and Mutiny (if you’ve already read the others) in paperback or on Kindle. Or start with Etiquette and Espionage – paperback or Kindle. The complete-ist in me really wants to buy myself the paperback copies of all of them so that I can put them on the shelf next to the others, but as I’ve already bought two Carriger audio-books and the e-books of Soulless and Changeless this week (so I can read whenever I want…) I’m valiantly resisting for now. Lets see how long that resolution lasts…