Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Series of Unfortunate Events: Books 8-12

The Hostile Hospital
The Carnivorous Carnival
The Slippery Slope
The Grim Grotto
The Penultimate Peril

As I said, the honeymoon is over… While on this ultimate vacation, I read the final five books by Lemony Snicket. They were just as fun as the previous seven. They were the perfect poolside read. Unfortunate Events just kept happening to the Baudelaires. Mystery after mystery pilled upon themselves.

The Hostile Hospital certainly showed the resilience of the Baudelaire children. By the time they reach Heimlich Hospital, the three children are all alone. They are cold and starving. You feel sad for Violet, Klaus and Sunny. They’ve come so far and still have so far to go.

Sitting cold and alone, you see how resilient these children are. They discover what they need and begin their search for it. It is the first time you really see these children, who clearly age and mature, endure a moral dilemma. By the end of the book, the Baudelaires doubt their actions. Again, the story is full of adults who are just unable to help them.

The downward spiral continues with The Carnivorous Carnival. The Baudelaire children have their first experience with disguises. Throughout the stories, the children can’t believe that the adults were fooled by Count Olaf’s disguises. They don’t believe their own disguises will work, even with what happened at the hospital. They try anyway and discover that no one recognizes them. Somehow it speaks about how unobservant adults can be and how children notice everything.

The Carnivorous Carnival ends sadly. Near the end of the story, the children make a discovery. They feel so close to getting the answers that they’ve desperately been seeking. They find an adult, who appears villainous, but they believe that she can be noble again. They are so close to the truth. Again, the adult in their lives fail them. For this betrayal, they meet a wicked end. But the children do something wicked too. Something they thought they would never do. Did they have to? Violet and Klaus believe so, but doubt lingers.

In The Slippery Slope the children find themselves separated. They have never been apart before. It is very disconcerting for them. Since that first frightful day on Briny Beach, the children have not been apart for more than a few hours (while in some horrid school or performing some ghastly job). There is only one thing they can do. The children work to bring themselves together again.

The implausibility of the stories continues. The tasks Sunny performs defy reason. There is no way a baby or even a toddler could do the things she does… Well, maybe… But an adult would never ask for these things, even villainous adults. The situations are so incredible, it’s silly.

Watch out for a little warming of the heart from the eldest Baudelaire on this icy mountaintop…

In book the 11th, The Grim Grotto, the children mature even more. It is Klaus’s turn to meet someone who touches his heart. The children end up drifting away from what they thought would be the source of their answers. Now, they don’t know where they are going. Where they end up lands them with more questions.

Again, we find another adult who refuses to tell the children what they need to know. If only someone would stop all this madness and tell the children the truth about their parents, the past, present and future, then they might actually be all right. Instead, these things are pushed aside because they are too young to hear such things.

Violet, Klaus and Sunny find themselves betrayed yet again. Someone they trusted turns out villainous. This heinous act of betrayal nearly kills one of the children. Even when redemption presents itself, the children are again failed by the people they look too. By the end of the story, the children make a decision and no one is sure if it was the right one.

The Penultimate Peril leaves you wanting to continue on with the Baudelaires. No matter how angry you might be with them. Once more, you not only question the actions of the adults, but also of the children. The Baudelaires are told by yet another mysterious figure (clearly tied to Lemony Snicket) to trust their own judgment. Can they really? They stare repeatedly into the faces of Frank and Earnest and can’t figure out who is the villain or volunteer.

Adults try. Yet we see that trying is not enough. The adults fail them. Mr. Poe fails them. J. S. fails them. They have no one to turn to. No one to trust. Villains are everywhere. They do the only thing they think they can do. They try to save themselves. We may not agree with their actions, but it is clear what led them to the end of The Penultimate Peril

I really can’t wait for Book The 13th. The Baudelaires may or may not have a happy ending. We have to wait until October the 13th to find out.

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