Friday, 28 March 2014

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

A Series of Unfortunate Events

When I was considering a book to write a review of, the first one that came to my mind was the one mentioned in the title of this post. Well actually, that was lie. The first I thought of was Rivers of London because I wanted to write a review of the latest book I read because I wanted to be like a friend on Twitter. Then I thought of Bog Child, because that was a bit of homework I was given. Then I thought, why not do my favourite series of books ever written. So here we are, you reading, me writing, a review on a Series of Unfortunate Events.
The series follow Klaus, Violet and Sunny as they mourn the loss of their parents and get tossed from one guardian to another. Klaus, Violet and Sunny are superb characters, each with their individual traits- which we are unfortunately reminded of at the beginning of each book. Violet is an inventor, but only when she wraps her hair back with a special ribbon, Klaus is a reader who wears his trademark glasses and Sunny likes biting things, with her exceptionally  sharp teeth. With these three skills, which come in surprisingly handy, they avoid traps, defeat schemes and prove adults wrong, as they battle against the evil, fire starting villain that is 'Count Olaf.' During the series, our heroes make many interesting discoveries, and find that the world isn't always quiet, but there are people out there who want to make it that way.
So, the positives. The characters are superb. Klaus, Violet and Sunny are brought to life perfectly, showing that intellect and bravery are a winning combination. Throughout the series, our three main heroes change a lot, both physically and mentally. But none change more than Sunny. Sunny starts out in the series as a juvenile baby who doesn't understand the baffling world of treachery, danger and skulduggery around her and talks in a incomprehensible babble which is only understood by her brother and sister. But by the end of the series, she becomes an articulate young girl with a promising career in cooking. But the superb thing about that, is that it doesn't happen all at once. Slowly she starts to change, and seeing that it's written in the brilliant method of Mr Snicket, it seems real.
The villains in the novel are fantastic, all playing part to the stereotypical villain. The man with long nose, the hookhanded man, the two white faced women, the mysterious-women-from-book-6-who-I-shan't-name-because-of-spoilers, the man with a beard but no hair and the women with hair but no beard are all written superbly, displaying cruelty, evil and the most important quality of all villains: determination. But they don't have a patch on the true villain of the story. Oh no! Nobody can beat Count Olaf!
Olaf is an old school villain. The author takes great care in describing his qualities, such as his terrible hygiene, his monstrous greed and of course his nefarious scheming. He seems to be capable of disguising himself and fooling all adults! But what is driving him in his evil exploits  to steal the Baudelaire Fortune? A doomed romance maybe? The death of a loved one perhaps? The opportunity to wear lots of costumes? I really hope it's the third.
Besides are heroes and the villains, there are the guardians. These characters are very important; they give our heroes a sense of security in the darkest of times. A recurring theme amongst the guardians is that they think they are doing the best they can for the children, but in the end either end up dead or as useless as physically possible. Some are better than others, such as the brilliant Doctor Montgomery Montgomery, Aunt Josephine Lachrymose, Captain Widdershins, Justice Strauss, Jerome Squalor, Howard and so on in contrast to the others, whom were all really awful! The good thing about some of them is that they can help the children learn more about the mysteries around them. Apart from Mr Poe that is. He's just awful.
Our heroes don't make many friends during the series, apart from perhaps a set of triplets called Duncan and Isadora Quagmire. The Quagmires lost their parents and their brother- which is why there is only two triplets- in a terrible fire, like the Baudelaires and so know what our heroes are going through. During the series, the Quagmire triplets provide helpful hints to the Baudelaires about the many mysteries surrounding them. They are superb characters.
To be truthful, I could go on forever, so I'm going to just mention two more characters and move on. and those two characters are Lemony Snicket and Beatrice. Technically, they are the first charaters you meet each book, whether it's by the blurb, as written by Lemony, or the doom laden dedication regarding Beatrice. Both Beatrice and Lemony are fascinating characters, with an air of intrigue about them and a story of their own going on throughout the adventures of the orphans. Very interesting indeed. If you ever read the books, make sure you pay attention to their story, as it will get very, very interesting.
The best part of the whole series though, is the genius writing of Lemony Snicket- the pseudonym of Daniel Handler. Each book has a recurring theme, normally the adjective from the title, which Lemony will make you see from a range of different angles throughout the adventure. He has an amazing way of disrespecting his own writing. He'll constantly tell you to stop reading as it's too terrible to not read this section for some reason, then drop a very important piece of information in. In one book he talks about De Ja vu and then repeats the page three times. It's truly genius and truly breaks all traditional methods of writing. In my opinion, Lemony Snicket is the best writer of the twenty first century.

Now for the negatives. Book 4 and the fact the openings to each book are slightly annoying. Sorted.

The books are based around secrets, beautifully clever secrets that never seem to be related, but always are. Most of these secrets, you'll never find the answer to, but it's fun to work out. And that makes a series of unfortunate events unlike anything ever written before. Sure, we'll never know for certain the purpose of VFD, the contents of the sugar bowl, the identity of Beatrice or even who's idea it was to build horseradish factories so close to Doctor Montgomerys house, but the fact is, we don't need to; working out the mysteries and have your own theories is always more fun than knowing the bitter, bitter truth. A truth as bitter as wasabi- that's a reference by the way.
 But something occurred to me the other day. The book is told from the point of view of a child. As a child will tell you, all adults are either oblivious to what's going on around them or horrible. As are the adults in a series of unfortunate events. Children always feel as if the best things in life are held back from them. So are all the best things for the Baudelaires in a series of unfortunate events. But the most important thing, is that when you're young, before high school, everything is really simple, books 1,2,3 and 4. Then as you start to grow up, things become a bit more complicated, when you're in high school, books 5,6,7 and 8. And then you become an adult and everything is really, really difficult- or so I'm lectured- represent books 9,10,11,12 and 13. The books plot grow up like a child and the story helps the child to see that, using a quote from Casino Royale by Ian Flemming, all demon slayers are demons in someones eyes and that nothing is ever as it seems.

10 out of 10, and then some.

No comments:

Post a Comment