Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Book Review: Prudence by Gail Carriger
As regular listeners are aware, we had a chance to interview Gail a few months back. Not long after, she did a promotional book tour for Prudence, and one of her stops was in Denver. Granted, that was a while ago, but I've been eager to read and review this book ever since it was announced.
This book starts out with a different voice and tone. Far different from The Parasol Protectorate and Finishing School series. In fact, it caught me so off guard that I didn't initially enjoy what I was reading. The writing is still very strong, perhaps even stronger than her other works. This issue was all in my own head simply because I went in with pre-conceived notions.
Then I remembered how different Finishing School is from The Parasol Protectorate. I reordered my thoughts, set aside any expectations, and dove in. It was not in ANY way disappointing. Except when it ended. Because I didn't want it to end.
Carriger crafted a shining world, once again, in the pages of her book, more fully-formed thanks to the work she put into her other books. In Prudence, the narration follows the adventures of Rue, the daughter of Carriger's first protagonist, Alexia. But rather than sticking with a single character who orchestrates a brilliant solution to the world's problems, Carriger gave Rue a team of experts, equally capable as herself, on whom she relies throughout the story.
While the POV (third-person close with occasional omniscient glimpses) follows Rue through the whole story, it's clearer than ever that Carriger can create an ensemble cast who are each fully-formed and capable of handling an entire plot on their own.
The story itself doesn't conform to a traditional "formula," and whenever the characters arrive at a new location, especially one that's made up specifically for this world rather than something we're all familiar with because of the history books, she takes the time to describe it with color and empathy, rather than just telling the reader what everything looks like. As a result, the images in the pages come alive, complete with the noise of busy marketplaces, the stifling heat of the jungle at midday, and the noisy engine room of a dirigible.
The only lines I chose to skim rather than reading as in-depth as the rest of the book were the descriptions of clothing. But I understand that those brief images are there for Carriger's more fashion-curious readers, and even they (while more than I personally needed) add color and life to the story. More detail than I look for, but I know many of her fans love it.
All in all, Gail Carriger delivered once again. A roaring success that makes me wish her next two books were out.