Since we last met here on this blog (a total of three days ago) I have completed the second of Lemony Snicket’s ‘wrong questions.’ Yes, my friends. I am quite definitely in love. And I know what I’m getting for Christmas. A nice new row of four shiny-dust-jacketed books by Lemony Snicket.
Or, due to a terrible inconvenience (a word which here means “unknown release dates for the rest of the series”), maybe only two books, and a promise of two more to come.
I just finished When Did You See Her Last? by Lemony Snicket this evening. I read this book in all sorts of unlikely places: sick in bed, under the stairs at work during my 15-minute break, in a living room filled with jolly, noisy family members. I was quite simply hooked, and couldn’t put it down. As I mentioned in my last post, I listened to the audio book of Book 1, Who Could That Be At This Hour?, read by Liam Aiken. I was so impressed by the brilliant Mr. Aiken that I tried to find an audio version of When Did You See Her Last?. Unfortunately, seeing as this Book #2 was just released a couple of weeks ago, my library doesn’t carry the audio book yet. So I got a hardback and went to town. (A phrase which here means reading the book in three days.)
I’m not sure if it’s due to the fact of not having Aiken gently drawing out all of the humor, or due simply to a slight shift in the focus of the story, but Book 2 seemed much more serious than Book 1. The story is still threaded through with wonderful bursts of humor and light-hearted moments, but the stakes are now higher in Snicket’s adventures. There are no longer vague threats and shadowy baddies. The villains are very real, complete with long knives, poisons and wicked plots. I have to admit that there were scenes that gave me shivers down my spine. Though I would still classify the intensity of the book as rather mild, I would definitely suggest parental guidance for young readers. Some parents might also be concerned about Book 2’s portrayal of adults. The adults are not (like so many modern YA books) all imbeciles. But there is a definite theme of everything being “up to the children” because the adults do not understand, or are not available, or simply don’t care. Snicket gives several words of wisdom about the “nature of adults” that – while adding greatly to the dramatic feeling of Snicket and his friends having to fight for justice on their own – are simply not true. That being said, for an adult reader, Book 2 is a delightfully engaging story – a masterful mix of humor, mystery, wit, and suspense.
Can I just say that Snicket is a story-telling genius? Almost every element in his story is extremely classic – borderline clichéd. A 12-year old boy separated from his parents, faced with a mystery only he can solve. A curious, spunky girl who helps him out in his adventures. A bad guy trying to take over a town. Bumbling, overweight policemen. But somehow, Snicket takes all of these elements and makes them feel completely fresh; as if his story was the original and every other bumbling policeman and spunky girl is a copy off of him. Whenever one of these classic elements were introduced, I’d always brace myself. “Now,” I’d say, “Now it’s going to get a bit cheesy.” But it never did. I was kept guessing, my nose was glued to the book, and was confronted with moments that caught me completely off-guard.
Now that’s genius, folks.
Suffice it to say, Book 2 was just as good as Book 1, if not better. They both were extremely fun, but in different ways. The first book kept me laughing, the second kept me guessing. Needless to say, I’ll be waiting eagerly for the third wrong question to be released! It would probably be fair to say that I’m obsessed.
A word which here means: Lemony Snicket.