A Series Of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket is one of my all time favourite book series. Yes, I know it’s targeted more towards children, but hey I read all thirteen of those books when I was 14 or 15 years old. But I still remember how reading them made me feel. The woeful fate of the Baudelaire children, their tryst with Count Olaf, the way these children jump from place to place to find out the truth about their parents, only to get thwarted each time by Olaf. Now Lemony Snicket is both the pen name of the author Daniel Handler and also the name of a character in the books. He is our narrator through all the books who secretly watches the lives of these three kids and also their family before. And actually, much of the book’s charm is derived from Lemony’s quirky voice – the writing voice, I mean – as he goes on to explain everything in his own depressing tone. But Lemony as a character does not really come across fully in those books.
But now, he’s back in a series that tells of adventures as a 13 year old in a weird town called Stain’d By The Sea. This series titled All the Wrong Questions is about four questions that Lemony Snicket asked at different times tied to four different but interconnected events. There are a total of four books, and I’ve read the first three till now with the fourth in pipeline. But I couldn’t contain my excitement after reading the third book so I’ve decided to do a review right away instead of waiting till the fourth book is also done away with!
For one, we finally know what V.F.D stands for!!!!!!!
If you have read ASOUE previously, you would know how big that is. In the initial series, all we see are questions raised one after the other with no answers in sight even by the end of the thirteenth book. I was slightly disappointed at that time, but had to be content that the journey had at least been wonderful. It was like LOST all over again. So you can imagine my delight to see him revealing information in this series. And what more, we also get a passing reference of Count Olaf as a school kid.
I won’t discuss the plot, but let’s just say there’s a nemesis with an evil scheme that’s not apparent yet and no one realizes it, but Lemony Snicket might be the key to solving the case. Much of his quirkiness is intact, as are the writing props. You know, the way he defines the meaning of words in context and also segueing into deeply psychological analysis in the midst of all the chaos. He is aided by other wonderful kids in the town. But they all answer to Lemony as they trust his genius. In the third book, Lemony introduces us to something called as a “fragmentary plot” where each player only knows his part and nothing makes sense until the final click. But the way these individual books are also treated as a fragmentary plot in the overarching scheme of things. I think you should be able to pick up these books in any order but sequentially is what works best. Otherwise, you’d miss a lot of character development. If you come out and think of the plot, there is nothing spectacular about it. But Lemony is such a great writer that it is difficult to not get addicted to his style of writing. You always want more, and that is exactly why I’m holding off reading the final book in the series as that gives me something to look forward to.
If you’re looking for some light reading, then look absolutely no further. In fact I’d suggest you read the original series if you haven’t already. It was also adapted into a movie starring Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep