At around this time last year, I began what I termed the ‘Year of Unfortunate Events’ (unaware of how fitting a name that would be for 2016 in general) where I would re-read A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, one book a month and then two in December. As there are two extra books this month (as I also read the supplement The Beatrice Letters), it’s going to be a fairly long post, so I’m just going to get straight into it.
The Slippery Slope – 3.5/5
Sadly, the first book in this quarter did not impress me as much as I hoped it would. While there were some really good parts, such as the character of Quigley and his relationship with Violent, which I thought was unbelievably sweet, it just did not work for me. I enjoyed the mystery aspect, as the story was picked up and there was a lot of progression in what the children uncovered, but Olaf’s appearance felt very forced and there only to introduce other characters. The additions of Lemony Snicket in this book, while usually quite entertaining, actually let the book down a bit, especially with the addition of a rather peculiar letter in the middle. So, while there were good bits, it was just not as good as it could have been.
The Grim Grotto – 4/5
I found The Grim Grotto started to take the series in a new direction, it was very different to previous books, more so because things were starting to build towards the series coming to an end. It was darker, with a threat that sounded utterly terrifying, with further hints as to the mystery that surrounds the children. A few ‘grey’ characters were also introduced, ones which were neither solidly on the good or bad side, which I found to be quite interesting. I really enjoyed this book and on finishing, it was quite hard to believe there were only two actual books left in the series – there is so much to explore and uncover in this series, two books didn’t seem like enough.
The Penultimate Peril – 4.5/5
Of all the books this month, The Penultimate Peril probably surprised me the most. As the build up to the final outing, I was not expecting much, but I ended up thoroughly enjoying this book. This books sees the orphans arrive at the last Safe Place, where many figures of their past come together – some good, some evil and no-one really knowing who is who. I really enjoyed how morality took a centre stage in this book as the children struggled to determine who was one which side while also questioning whether they could still be considered ‘good’ themselves. A number of questions were answered, but in places it felt like more were asked in their place. I did enjoy seeing hints of the other characters’ perspectives, although would have enjoyed seeing more of them. This was my favourite of the five unfortunate books I read this month.
The Beatrice Letters (Supplement) – 2/5
This supplement was released between the 12th and 13th book, supposedly with clues as to what would happen within the final story, and so I decided to read it between those two books and see if I could find some clues. I did, although for the most part I did not know what they meant until reading The End. However, I did not enjoy this book. While it may have been because I was tired reading it, I found it a bit confusing and all over the place. It contains a series of letters between the author’s character (Lemony Snicket) and Beatrice Baudelaire, but despite the potential that premise has, it just did not work for me.
The End – 3.5/5
In all honesty, I found the final instalment of the Baudelaire’s story to be a bit of a mix. I got the sense that Snicket struggled to tie the ends up of all the various plot points in a neat bow and there were a lot of questions which went answered. While this may have been what he was going for – in real life you never get all the answers you want, it did leave me a bit deflated. After following the children for 13 books, for a year, I wanted some satisfying resolution, especially after all they have been through. The being said, I loved that the theme of morality was continued right until the end of the book, and he managed to, somehow, make Count Olaf a bit more human in this instalment as well. I also thought that the Baudelaire’s ended the book in a way that was fitting given all they went through (even if there was one bizarre addition). So, while I do think it could have been better in rounding off the various threads, it was still an enjoyable conclusion to the 13-book strong series.
And that brings a conclusion to the series re-read. It certainly had its ups and downs, with some books I flew through and some which did not quite do the trick for me, but given it is a 13-book series, I suppose it can be forgiven for not being perfect throughout. The Baudelaire’s story is still one that I do keep coming back to from time to time (I forget how many times I have read the first three books) and re-reading it again was a brilliant experience, particularly seeing it again through slightly more grown-up eyes.
You may be wondering why this is the penultimate post, as I have completed the re-read. Well, as luck would have it, I timed the event perfectly. Netflix will be releasing their T.V. adaption of the books on January 13th and to bring the Year of Unfortunate Events (give or take a few months) to its conclusion, I will be watching and reviewing the show. Stay tuned folks!