Rating: 4/5 stars
Series: Finishing School, Book 4
Genres: Young Adult, SciFi, Steampunk, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Historical
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
Sophronia really considered what he was saying. And, shockingly, it seemed almost possible.
She stuck her tongue through her lips to lick his hand. With a start, he dropped it. (Ch. 17)
Before getting into anything particular about this series, I’d just like to say how good it was as a whole. While I’d already found a love of spy/assassin novels, with the Finishing School series Carriger has awaken within me a love of the Steampunk genre. I’ve previously tried other books in this genre and found things that I’d enjoyed, but Carriger’s writing has shown me a whole new side of the genre that I hadn’t previously known existed.
In simpler terms, Carriger has shown me what it’s like to truly exist in a Steampunk world. Never before have I found myself so immersed in a Steampunk series that I felt the need to devour a whole series within a week. (I must admit, I read these books much quicker than it took me to get these reviews out!) It’s rare for me to devour any series this quickly, let alone one from a genre I don’t typically read.
Right until the very end, I was drawn to Sophronia and her friends. I needed to see what happened next, if relationships were mended or broken beyond repair. Did everyone manage to make it out in the end? Did people survive with their sanity intact? I didn’t know I was so invested in this series until I didn’t have the answers. Carriger did a fantastic job at getting me invested in the characters to the point where I could think of little else.
On top of that, I found myself increasingly invested in the world she created. The lies thrown around continued to get more and more convoluted, alliances made and broken, promises made – and some were even kept. While it was hard at times to keep track of who did what (or was at least blamed for it), who was trusted, and who knew what, I loved making a mind map of the goings on and trying to piece everything together. Even still, Carriger manager to shock me with a couple of plot twists that I really hadn’t seen coming.
I’d highly recommend checking this series out. While the second book in the series, Curtsies & Conspiracies, remains my favourite out of the four, all of these novels were enjoyable reads. Whether you’ve already found a love of the Steampunk genre or are looking for a read outside of your comfort zone the way I was, this series is a fantastic place to live for a while. Check out the series, starting with Etiquette & Espionage.
As much as I can’t help but gush over this series, I have to admit that I felt as though Felix got shafted at the end. Of course I’m glad that Sophronia ended up with Soap as they were quite obviously made for each other. And of course I didn’t want Sophronia to end up with someone who betrayed her as badly as Felix had. But I still wished that he’d found a little more happiness in his life. He was so very clearly heartbroken over the thought of Sophronia being dead. He might have been an ass at times, but it was still clear that he cared – possibly even truly loved – her.
Felix really had grown on me throughout this series. It was clear that there was more to him than the front he presented to the world and I loved the fact that Sophronia was able to see through his bs to the young man beneath it all. Sure he managed to keep some secrets from her until the very end, but his intentions were more misguided than simply malicious. I hope he enjoys eternity as a vampire, finding someone to actually care about him in a way that he seems to so desperately need.
Then again, Sophronia wasn’t the right girl for him. She tried her darnedest to get him to change his views on certain things, but she wasn’t able to stop him from betraying her and the people she loved. Heck, if it wasn’t for Felix, Soap wouldn’t have been shot and she wouldn’t have indentured herself to the dewan in order for him to turn Soap into a werewolf.
Speaking of Soap, it’s rare to see someone as dedicated as he was to protecting Sophronia. Sure she was trying to convince both him and herself that there could never be anything between them. And, of course, she was willing to (try to) do the dewan’s bidding by flirting with Felix. But neither of them could really escape their feelings – not that they tried too hard to get around them. It’s sweet that in the end they’re both content to live in the shadows together, doing what needs to be done.
I can’t go any further without acknowledging what happen to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. Holy heck I did not expect the series to end with the entire school being blown up. Ahem. It’s insanely hard for me to imagine this world without Mademoiselle Geraldine’s school cranking out exceptional young spies. Who wouldn’t want their daughter to be able to do the things Geraldine’s teaches its students!? No, just me? Cool….
And Geraldine herself! I should have known better than to take her naivete at face value. There’s no way that she survived all those years on a spy school without catching on to the goings on of the school itself. The treats being miniature bombs was also an adorable surprise. I have to admit, Geraldine is a pretty kickass lady.
Even Monique managed to (at least somewhat) change my perceptions of herself. The young lady is still scum, but she proved that she could care about others – even if it was only because it benefited her own desires. She managed to help Sophronia – who was too beaten and bruised to finish the mission alone, even if she wasn’t willing to admit it, even to herself – without killing the girl. Heck, Monique didn’t have to give Sophronia the other parachute to save her life. (Though part of me will forever hope that Felix talked her into bringing the second parachute for Sophronia, proving that he really did love her the whole time. Have I mentioned that he grew on me?) Even though she got off the ship before making sure Sophronia did the same, without Monique there’s no way that Sophronia would’ve survived her suicide mission. And she got to finish!
Of course, I’m always going to imagine Pillover and Agatha happily together. They really do make a cute pairing.
While there’s still a world of stuff I could gush about in this world, I find my thoughts still swimming around. Flying through a series often leaves me with questions flying through my head, thoughts partially formed and opinions still zinging between extremes. Since this is the case, I’m content to sit here with my thoughts, piecing together the hidden clues that I hadn’t parsed before the reveals.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on everything that went down. Are you a fan of the Steampunk genre, or was this your first real taste, the way it was mine? How did Sophronia and her friends come across to you – capable or just darn lucky? And, most fun, how do you think you would’ve handled these situations if you’d found yourself in Sophronia’s position?
Other reviews for the series: