I've been making my way thru A Series of Unfortunate Events, listening on the drive back and forth to work. My most recent listen was to The Carnivorous Carnival. I followed Jill's advice to then read Lemony Snicket: An Unauthorized Autobiography before continuing on to the rest of the series.
Can I just say Wow? I am so blown away by these books. Daniel Handler is brilliant, on so many levels. First, of course, is the way he plays with language; next, is the wonderful plotting as the story unravels, book by book; and finally, by capturing the imagination of so many readers.
I'm making my way thru the series, expecting certain things to happen (children in peril; children thwart Count Olaf; children save themselves, Olaf runs away, Poe shows up.) And then I get to the Vile Village -- and it changes. And suddenly, the kids are on their own, and the series keeps sliding from its original black (evil Count Olaf) and white (poor innocent Baudelaires) to gray. And the illusion of safety is ripped away. And the ending of Book 9 -- well, the only reason I didn't plunge into the next book is Jill said I had to read the unauthorized autobiography first, and I trust Jill.
And now, I'm thinking, what the hell is Handler doing?
And then they took him,
They took him far away,
They took him in the dead of night,
Beneath a moon of gray.
They took him from the kitchen,
Like you'd take a midnight snack,
The VFD, they took him
And the never brought him back.
And that's from when the VFD were good guys. The Unauthorized Autobiography plunges deeper into gray areas, yet continues with the fun language and writing. This story is a puzzle, that keeps getting more complex; yet not in a way that turns off young readers. This is sophisticated storytelling, with some very mature themes being introduced. Plus, it's so smart, with little details that you may miss if you're in a hurry. Following the "see" in the index leads to the following: Quagmire triplets, see abductions; abductions, see last minute escapes; last minute escapes, see running for one's life; running for one's life, see Snicket, Lemony.
There's all the Internet chat about whether or not Harry will die. Cutting to the chase, I find it highly unlikely that Harry will die because frankly, it's not that type of series. However, as ASOUE proceeds, it appears to me that there will be some startling revelations that will be just as shocking, if not more so, than a dead Harry. What have the Baudelaire parents done, as members of VFD, an organization that uses disguises and takes children? Is their mother a Snicket? And I don't want to begin with some of my other questions, because I still have more books (10, 11, 12, not to mention the Beatrice book and 13) left to read.