The Time I Had Airship Envy - Prudence (review)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Prudence (The Custard Protcol #1) by Gail Carriger
Title: Prudence (The Custard Protocol #1)
Author: Gail Carriger
Release Date: March 17th, 2015
Publisher: Orbit
“When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances - names it the Spotted Custard and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier's wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone's secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?”




RELATED: Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) | Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School #2) | Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School #3)


My Review

I feel I must confess something here reader, I rather enjoyed Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series. Steampunk, werewolves, vampires...oh my. They were fun books with the right blend of mayhem and great characters. 

So when the author came out with her young adult series, Finishing School, I dived right in. After all, a floating airship school teaching young ladies how to be spies, what's not to love? 

But I didn't love it the way I wanted to. I just wasn't as enthusiastic about the world anymore. I am going to read book four, because I just have to know certain things, but I'm not in a rush to read it. Therefore, I delayed reading Prudence because I wasn't ready to be disappoint by a book again. 

When I finally braved the book (really, I started working my way down my goodreads TBR series list) I was confused.

Confused? Yes. 

There were so many characters named in this book: those from PP/FS series who made appearances or were mentioned, as well as a whole assortment of new ones. If you are like me and the question "Why are you so familiar?" is not one you can leave unanswered, then you need to reread first or check the internet throughout the book because some of these "Easter eggs" are never fully explains. After all, that would defeat their purpose I suppose.

But once I finally made the necessary connections, namely the BFF is the daughter of the BFF who ended up where she was due to certain spoiler things from the Parasol Protectorate series. I was able to better invest myself in the story and forget about the technicalities of this world. It felt like coming home and checking in on some long lost friends to see how they made out in life.

Now if you haven't read The Parasol Protectorate series - more so than the Finishing School series, though they're spoilerish things from there too - than you really should be aware that you are going to spoiler yourself massively when you read this book. 

Don't care? Moving on then...

Prudence follows Prudence, Rue to all her friends, a one of a kind metanatural. Thank's to her special DNA, she can with a single touch steal an other's abilities/soul turning the vampire or werewolf temporary mortal while the connection lasts. Naturally, the otherworldly denizens have a problem with that. But a truce based on a technicality allows her to live in relative peace. After a few manipulations by her vampire father, Akeldama, Rue sets off for India on a quest for coveted new blend of tea. But abroad, her unique status only gets her into further trouble.

I really liked Rue. She was this nice blend of all three of her parents. She had her mother's ability to find trouble wherever she went, she had her father's alpha drive to protect what's her's, and she had Akeldama's tendency to steal the show.

Accompanying her on her adventures were an as different as can be set of twins Prim and Percy. Prim was the ultimate managing BFF. She cared deeply for her friend, was willing to set in and tell her when she was being reckless, yet always there at her side. At times it seemed like she was the dimwitted character, but then she'd say or do something that made you wonder if it wasn't an act. After all, her mother was an actress at one point in her life, who knew what her early childhood was like? 

Percy was the scholarly bookish type. He was the navigator of The Spotted Custard, because what is an airship without one of those? He was the guy they went to for knowledge, the one who knew all the languages and had all the theories memorized. He was the hot guy who drew all the ladies to him. But like his sister, watching him, you had to wonder if he wasn't playing a role as well. There were hints from another character, Quensal, of something not quite nice in his past.

Speaking of Quensal, he was the love interest in the book. He was also one of those characters that took a minute to place, but only a minute because there wasn't a lot of little half french boys running around the Parasol Protectorate series. On one hand I liked him. He reminded me a lot of his mother, and he was just a fun character. He was hiding something from Rue and I wanted to tear the secret out from him because curiosity all all. On the other hand, he was your typical hot know it all, whose conquest list was apparently longer than Santa's naughty or nice list. If rumors were to be believed that is. Quite frankly, I'm getting sick of this trope. 

I really loved all the cameos, they were lots of fun. Even if watching Alexia and Maccon interact made me feel a bit like the vampires in this book. They were getting older and changing, while I haven't aged much since we were first introduced. Akeldama - please, please can I call him Dama without getting killed too?? - is still my favorite character of this series. I just love his zany, but "you have no idea what I'm really am thinking" ways. And my close second, Lyall, also made an appearance and managed to make me smirk a time or two.

Plotwise, there was no epic plot in this book. That may or may not bother some people. Personally, I think it was in the same vein as her other series, so if you liked them, you'd probably like this one too. In Rue's mind, it's all about the tea. But there were several other plots and twists running in tandem with her search for Akeldama's secret tea contact.

We made friends, we made enemies. We flirted with boys, we got in trouble with out bestie. We lied, we stole, we tricked. We laughed, we - no we did not cry. Basically we had a whole lot of fun trying to figure out what other characters wanted, how it all tied to Dama's tea - if I disappear now, you'll know why - and we learned just how bad Rue could destroy things trying to do the right thing.

It took me a bit to figure out what age group this book fit in. At times if felt like it could have been a young adult novel, other times we were reminded of more adult topics. We don't exactly learn how old Prudence is, but she has a friendship of twenty something years, so the girl was definitely an adult. I cannot comment on the rest of the series yet, but there was nothing in this book that a YA reader could not read and not be negatively affected by.

Unless you don't like tea, then your on your own.


Words To Live By


"Ah, to be young and agile again,' said Primrose.
'We were never that young,' replied Rue.
'More to the point, we were never that agile,' said Prim with a soft smile."
"One could not blame a people for disliking vampires. Vampires were like brussels sprouts - not for everyone and impossible to improve upon with sauce."
"He wielded verbal italics as if they were capable of actual bodily harm."


Overall


Book one of The Custard Protocol series had elements I loved from the author's other two series set in this world blended together. In fact, I think I loved it a lot more than her YA one.

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