“Tea should be as bitter as wormwood, and as sharp as a two-edged sword.”
WARNING: SOME SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD
‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ is a thirteen book middle grade series which chronicles the adventures and misfortunes of three young children after their parents die in a sudden, and seemingly-accidental house fire.
Within the series, the children are sent to countless guardians in the hopes of finding safety and a permanent home, but everywhere they go they are relentlessly followed by a villain named Count Olaf, and his slew of henchmen after the family fortune left behind by the dead parents.
Throughout their unfortunate happenings, the three children come to learn and discover many secrets; it appears their parents were part of a mysterious secret society, and their sudden deaths were purposeful assassinations in a battle between the members of this secret organization.
The series contains a vast amount of highly-creative elements and plot points; the ‘author’ of this series, Lemony Snicket, is actually a character within the books who is chronicling the adventures and misfortunes of the children, and the series bounces between everything from steampunk and science fiction elements, to philosophical questioning of the complexities of human nature.
But unless you enjoy reading thirteen whole books in which mysteries are revealed painfully slowly, all for it to lead up to an ending in which nothing is explained, finished or wrapped up, prepare to be bitterly disappointed.
I hate to write a book (or rather, a book series) review with such a bitter attitude, but I can honestly say I have never been more disappointed, or flat-out upset with the way a book, let alone entire series has ended.
I legitimately stumbled into my sister’s bedroom last night at nearly one in the morning after finally finishing the final book, in a complete haze of anger and stuttering in frustration over the idiocy and laziness of the author; my poor sister just stared at me with a sympathetic look which suggested that I may be a crazed, wild animal who had just been repeatedly poked and taunted with a sharp stick, but that’s how it felt!
A BRIEF GUIDE TO THE SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS:
*Between the first and fifth book, you’ll find yourself basically reading the exact same story again and again; the children go to a guardian and are momentarily safe, Count Olaf shows up in a disguise to ruin all the fun and all the adults are too stupid to realize it’s him, and then the guardian is killed or otherwise is unable to take care of the children any longer, and they are sent to another guardian after Olaf escapes the authorities.*
*Between the sixth and ninth book, things begin to get a little more interesting; the children no longer have a guardian, are constantly on the run from Olaf, meet a some secret agents on the way, and finally begin to learn a few of the mysteries surrounding their parents, and this organization.*
*When we come to the tenth through thirteenth books, it seems that with each story, the author is dangling the manuscript for the next book saying, ‘all the answers are finally here!’ only to have the rug pulled out from under our feet each and every time. So we keep carrying on knowing the last book HAS to have all the answers.*
*Then we get to the last book, in which the author shrugs his shoulders and says; “well life sucks sometimes and we don’t always get the answers to all the questions, the end!”*
The series ends very suddenly, with none of the questions answered, mysteries solved, and the whereabouts of recently-introduced characters left completely unknown for no real reason. While the series matures slightly with each book, just as its audience would have as the books were first released, the final book takes a complete left turn from the rest of the series.
We are given book upon book of Gothic, yet slightly whimsical adventures, only for the last book to thrust a slew of metaphors about life and human nature at the reader. It’s not what we signed up for twelve books ago; it’s lazy writing, a complete cop-out, and completely unfair to the readers who have stuck with all the ups and down from The Bad Beginning.