Carriger, G. (2015). Prudence. New York, NY: Orbit.
This is the first book in the new Custard Protocol series by Gail Carriger who is also the author of the popular Finishing School series as well as the Parasol Protectorate which is also popular but a bit more mature. This book and the Finishing School series are listed as being for ages 12-18 while her other series is generally considered to be adult for a few sex scenes in the books. These scenes are not graphic however do there are some libraries that shelve them in the Young adult section of the library. This is important to mention as all three series take place in the same setting and there are a few characters that are featured in all three series though each focuses on a different generation and set of main characters. The reason why the series is able to have characters that span three generations of characters is that this is a supernatural book featuring vampires and werewolves. Chronologically the first series would be the Finishing School series which currently consists of 3 books with a fourth Manners and Mutiny coming out November 2015. The next series is the completed Parasol Protectorate series which is centered around Prudence’s mother.
This new series revolves around Prudence who is the worlds only metanatural which gives her the power to steal the power of vampires and werewolves temporarily turning them mortal either until sunrise or they are separated by enough space to sever the connection. She has been raised by her adopted father a vampire she calls Dama, who sends her on a mission to establish tea trade in India. Her biological parents live next door and are still involved in raising their daughter effectively giving her three parents. Her father is a werewolf and her mother has powers similar to her own she can make a werewolf or vampire mortal but does not gain their powers and it only lasts along as they maintain physical contact. All three of her parents are also diplomats which becomes very important when her tea mission gets off course. She is accompanied by three friends who help her pilot her airship and figure out what is going on in India. Ultimately she is able to create a peace treaty that placates the newly discovered were-monkeys preventing an all out war in India. There is a bit of romance in the story but it is still suitable for older tweens who are looking for books that are a bit more mature while still being appropriate.
I would also highly suggest the Finishing School series which has a bit less romance. This series revolves around a group of students who are being trained not only in typical finishing school studies but also in espionage so that they can be spies in the highest levels of London society. I chose to write about Prudence because it is the newest of Carriger’s series but I would say that the two series are equally good choices for older tweens. It is also worth noting that Carriger is very involved with her fans she has a very informative newsletter that keeps fans updated on what is happening with her books. I was able to ask her questions on Goodreads prior in an author Q&A event she had when Waistcoats and Weaponry from the Finishing School series came out and she also frequently does book signing and other appearances. Additionally she has information about steampunk and historical fashion on her website appealing to tweens who are interested in cosplay as well as other resources focused on her books including deleted scenes from her books.
This is a great book for steampunk, fantasy, and science fiction fans. I would include this book in book lists or displays of steampunk books as this is a popular genre for tweens and teens right now. I would also suggest this to fans of Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan. While this book is a bit more gender neutral than Carriger’s other books with two female and two male main characters it will still generally be more popular with female readers.