Gail Carriger: PRUDENCE

Prudence by Gail Carriger
The Custard Protocol #1
Orbit 2015
343 pages
5/5 stars

Having finished Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, it felt natural to continue on to Prudence. It took some waiting until my library finally got it, but I was on the top of the reservation list and managed to get it relatively soon!

For those who are familiar with Carriger: you’re in for a treat!

While I enjoyed the Parasol Protectorate books, I think Carriger does much better wit Prudence. Where I feel the PP books are hilarious and I love Alexia, I’ve found their ratio of humour, relationships, and action unbalanced. This book does much better in that respect – and I love the characters again! So that’s a huge plus.

On that regard, let me tell you how much I love the dynamics between the main characters. They are all young adults, and therefore despite their occasional squabbling they behave in a mature way. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, and I feel this bodes well for the rest of the series – I’m certain all the characters will become more rounded in each book as more is revealed.

For those familiar with Parasol Protectorate, there are a lot of little things that enhance the reading experience; for those unfamiliar with the previous series, these details will hold very little meaning, but this will not hinder you. The only thing you’ll be missing out is nodding knowingly and squeeing over some characters. The book will still make sense; Carriger takes good care of the reader while also catering to the older readership.

I’m finding it a little hard to put my thoughts in review form. Prudence is simply excellent fun from a very capable author. I don’t usually care for action in my historical setting – I’m perfectly content with simply social stuff – but I really enjoyed it in this one. The pace is fast, which helps, and I enjoy the feeling of safety, if that word makes sense here.

What is also very refreshing is that this is the first steampunk book I’ve read (and that is not to say I read a lot in the genre) that discusses colonialism. As Rue and her friends travel to India in what I think is late Victorian period, they find out more about life in the colony and come to question the practices of the British abroad. Although these issues are not stressed overly, it is refreshing to see them acknowledged, and as the series is aimed at perhaps slightly younger audience than me it hopefully serves to help bring their attention to the things we are taught and believe as opposed to the realities.

Prudence, I think, is the first book to receive the full five stars from me this year. It’s a very solid and reliable novel without feeling clinical and soulless (pun intended). It simply works perfectly, and I’m very much looking forward to the next Custard Protocol book, Imprudence!



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