Imprudence (The Custard Protocol #2) by Gail Carriger
Published by Orbit Books on July 19, 2016
Genres: Steampunk / Pages: 352
Format: Book / Source: Library
Rating: 3 stars
Another witty YA entry in Carriger’s adventurous steampunk universe, the second in the Custard Protocol series following Prudence (Rue) Maccon.*
London is in chaos.
Rue and the crew of The Spotted Custard returned from India with revelations that shook the foundations of the scientific community. There is mass political upheaval, the vampires are tetchy, and something is seriously wrong with the local werewolf pack. To top it all off, Rue’s best friend Primrose keeps getting engaged to the most inappropriate military types.
Rue has got personal problems as well. Her vampire father is angry, her werewolf father is crazy, and her obstreperous mother is both. Worst of all, Rue’s beginning to suspect what they all really are… is frightened.
When the Custard is ordered to Egypt, transporting some highly unusual passengers, Rue’s problems go from personal to impossible. Can she get Percy to stop sulking? Will she find the true cause of Primrose’s lovesickness? And what is Quesnel hiding in the boiler room?
*Fans of Carriger’s adult series featuring Rue’s parents will be happy to note they appear more than once! Sadly, Sophronia from her other YA series (Etiquette & Espionage) lives prior to this part of the universe’s timeline.
The main characters
Rue is officially free!! Now 21, she’s no longer considered a dependent of Dama (her adopted father, epitome of vampire & non-vampire society, and one of the three most officially important supernaturals (aka the Shadow Council) in England) OR subject to her parent’s strict safety concerns (her parents are the other two Shadow Council members so lots of people want to a. kidnap Rue, b. study Rue as a scientific specimen, c. fill her with tea and scones as is socially acceptable). Rue is a metanatural – able to touch any supernatural creature and make them human – while turning into a werewolf or vampire herself. She’s also the only one in existence floating around the world in a ladybug-painted airship (called the Spotted Custard) with a hidden werelioness on board. She is quite spectacular as a character (but realistically, most of Gail Carriger characters are awesome), but dense à but THAT’S OK, because that drives a lot of the plot of the book.
Prim and Percy Tunstall are twins and Rue’s bestest of friends. Having grown up in their eccentric, vampire mother’s court (if you’ve read any other books dealing with the Maccons you will REMEMBER Ivy and her hats. Dear lord her hats >.<), Prim is obsessed with fitting societal expectations perfectly while Percy is crazily focused on his academic studies/navigation of the Spotted Custard. Both of these force the crew of the Spotted Custard into quite a pickle on one or two occasions throughout the book, but that also means we get to see some nice character growth out of these two. Well, Percy is still basically a petulant child with mad navigational skills, but he has started to AT LEAST show a BIT of empathy for the rest of the world – even for Quesnel! #IspotPROGRESS
Quesnel Lefoux is the incredibly handsome head engineer of the Spotted Custard who promised (in the first book) to teach Rue “French”(aka not French AT ALL) and then randomly disappeared off to Egypt with nary an explanation. NOT COOL. Luckily, Rue agrees and is not pleased to see the return of her erstwhile lover who also happens to have scooped an academic publication out from under Percy’s nose. Quesnel has a LOT of trust to make up to Rue and the crew, especially since he won’t tell them what the mysterious tank is that he installs inside the Spotted Custard. He also happens to be quite charming and puppy-ish and wears a super attractive engineering apron….
*clears throat *
Tasherit Sekhmet is a werelioness that the Spotted Custard and her crew met in the first book of the series. Very little of her history is shared, but there are hints that she may go back to Ancient Egypt?? Anywho, she is insanely gorgeous and acts EXACTLY like you would expect from a cat – including setting her sights on the skittish Prim. Yes, there is definitely romance in the air although Prim refuses to acknowledge it. I NEED ANOTHER BOOK SO THIS CAN HAPPEN!!! Tasherit has basically become Rue’s second in command on board their ladybug of an airship and is a very fun addition to their crew.
There are more awesome characters, but I have to stop somewhere! ❤ Lord and Lady Maccon!
The good stuff
- Ummm, the characters? The crew of the Spotted Custard would be SO MUCH FUN to hang out with – seriously, if they need volunteers… * raises both hands and feet *
- The variety of supernaturals throughout this steampunk world system – first there’s Alexia Maccon (aka Rue’s mom) who is a preternatural and can touch any supernatural creature and turn them COMPLETELY human. Basically supernaturals have excess soul, Rue’s mom has NO soul, so she “steals” it from them when they touch. She does give it back though (she’s practical like that). Rue’s dad is the Alpha werewolf of the London pack. Her adopted father is a vampire (as noted above). Then there is Rue herself. Add on top of that weremonkeys, werelionesses, and the hints of MORE supernaturals – it can be topping fun to follow all their antics.
- Gail Carriger’s writing is always witty and filled with regency-esque, whimsy, sometimes ridiculous descriptions. The ladybug airship may have tipped you off to that, but imagine an engine room designed to look like tea kettles… She also has fabulous chapter headings, such as p. 23 “Chapter Two: In Which Percy Proves Difficult and No One is Surprised” and p. 94 “Chapter Six: In Which Our Heroine Defeats a Picnic Hamper.”
The bad stuff
- While I greatly enjoyed the journey throughout this book, there are almost two separate plot lines that divide it in two and made it feel a bit bumpy. The first part is Rue’s parents. Lord Maccon is going mad with the Alpha Curse – and the only solution is to take him to Egypt (basically a big preternatural-influenced zone where he will remain mortal until he dies). As the second plot line requires them to flee further into/past Egypt à it reads as a bit too convenient.
- The romance – it is definitely steamy at times, but RUE IS SO DENSE! Yes, yes, she has her reasons to be skeptical of poor Quesnel (who I also keep wanting to call Quinton…. Pretty sure I did call him that in my head while reading >.<) after book 1, but Quesnel hints and skips around the issue when everyone on board the ship KNOWS RUE NEEDS STRAIGHT TALK. Yet he doesn’t do so. * face palm *
- The bad guys – throughout the book, the Spotted Custard gets attacked again and again – they even take prisoners at one point, but there are never any real clues as to a. who is attacking and b. WHY?!? While it is understandable to keep a certain amount of mystery as the plot unfolds, that is what foreshadowing is for. Foreshadowing that my voracious eyes did not spot. There is SOME references obliquely to Lady Maccon’s past, but really? Even as a fan of all Carriger’s series -> I had no clue what was going on. Therefore, when the identity of the bad guys gets revealed, I wasn’t really scared, because they are obviously horribly bad at being evil.
While I had a blast reading this book (and stayed up waaaayyy too late on a work night), I had to dock 2 stars based on the issues I had when I actually stopped my fangirling over Quesnel and thought.
p. 1 “Despite the acute sensation of being crushed under a hot fruitcake of embarrassment, Rue was impressed by Queen Victoria’s ability to eviscerate in so few words. The Empress of India was short in stature, wide in girth, and work a black silk dress positively drowning in ball fringe. She looked like an extraordinarily angry hassock. To the best of her knowledge, Rue had never before been scolded by a footstool.”
Do you enjoy steampunk? If you could be any supernatural animal/creature from any book series, what would it be??