Gail Carriger's entertaining steampunk and paranormal series for young adults, is difficult for me to assess because I'm not coming to it fresh and new, the way most young readers will. I've also read the author's amusingly sexy steampunk and paranormal series for adults. Quite honestly, I read the adult series for the funny sex. The YA series, at least its first book, doesn't have that. And that's perfectly fine. It has plenty of other things. But an adult reader who is familiar with that aspect of some of Carriger's other work is left wondering, you know, what happened to it?
This new series takes place before the original series and some of The Parasol Protectorate's secondary characters appear in the new book as teenagers or children. That's a fun aspect of the book for an adult reader such as myself, though YA readers won't get it. If they move on to the adult books at some point, finding these characters as their much older selves should be entertaining. Or disappointing, if they don't like how they turned out.
The book involves a young girl leaving home to attend what she and her family believe is a finishing school. (A disturbance to her world!) What she's gotten into, though, is a training program for spies and assassins, one that involves learning how to get some dirty jobs done while maintaining proper social behavior. The premise is clever, as is the world in which vampires and werewolves are recognized parts of the social structure.
What's more, this truly is a YA book, not just a thriller that a writer for adults has retooled for young people by replacing an adult protagonist with a teenager. The young people in this book are dealing with separating themselves from their families and determining what kinds of lives they're going to live. That's YA all over.
Oh, look. Etiquette & Espionage is a Cybils nominee. Book Two in this series, Curtsies & Conspiracies, comes out in eight days.