Bingo 11 (Travel)
I waited until almost the next book in the series release to read Imprudence, the prequel to Competence. I waited until almost the next book in the series release to read Competence because I hadn’t enjoyed Imprudence as much as previous novels by Gail Carriger. In my review of Imprudence I remember stating that I wished that the next novel wouldn’t focus on Rue because she’d started to annoy me. Ms. Carriger seems to have heard my plea (because of course she listens to/reads my personal thoughts on her novels (:p) ) .
Competence again follows the crew of the Spotted Custard on their adventures, but this time it takes the perspective of Primrose Tunstell (and occasionally her twin brother Percy). Prim has always been the responsible best friend of Rue who goes along with the adventure but prefers social propriety. She’s been engaged more than once, and begins this story engaged as well. There are really two journeys here: Prim’s journey of self-discovery (especially as concerns her many failed engagements and her interactions with Tasherit the were-lioness who confounds her with romantic attention (they’re both ladies, and Prim struggle with figuring out how she feels about Tash and her intentions). Every around her seems to understand what’s going on, but Prim takes 2/3 of the novel to recognize and start to accept things about herself.
The other journey is the Spotted Custard’s trip from Singapore to Cusco (South America). Prim nearly gets left behind in Singapore and has to navigate finding herself a way back to the Custard and helping the Custard with what she suspects might be a lack of helium (it’s a dirigible). She had left the airship to pick up mail for the crew, and among the letters are ones to herself and Rue, giving them a mission to go to South America and save a local vampire population. Much of the novel not focused on Prim figuring out herself as well as Anitra the crew translator (details on this might be spoiler-y) involves trying to get to South America (the air currents are not well-charted and neither are some of the atmospheric phenomena they encounter), communicate with the locals to figure out where to find the vampires, and gather the kinds of supplies they might need. Prim has a great time shopping for provisions and doesn’t have the vocabulary to name certain local fruits, which are described in ways that you can guess at with reasonable ease. Once the endangered South American vampires are located, the crew must then communicate with them (both language and culture are challenges) and figure out how to solve their dilemma.
I really enjoyed Prim, Percy, Anitra, Rodrigo, and Tasherit. They were the characters who got the most attention, and they all come out better for it. Rue and Quesnell are present but not much of a factor, which I much prefer. The other big differences are the lack of sex scenes (Carriger tends towards paranormal romance) and less sparkly wit. I actually appreciated the less sex scenes here because it actually really works with the story. Prim as the main character doesn’t know anything about what’s supposed to happen in the bedroom between two women, and when she and Tasherit finally do get together, much of what happens is left to the imagination.
I’m looking forward to the final installment in this series which is due out in about a month. It’s supposed to focus more on Percy, which should be interesting.