REVIEW: A Series of Unfortunate Events: PART II

So I know I’m a day late on this but with the Easter Long Weekend upon us, I’m a little behind on a few things (but catching up soon). Yesterday season 2 of A Series of Unfortunate Events was finally released on Netflix! The season covers books 5 through 9 so that’s what we’ll be talking about in Part II of this review!

The Austere Academy

book-cover-unfortunate-events-austere-academyWhen I was a kid The Austere Academy was my favourite of the series. I have always loved anything to do with boarding schools and despite the terrible events of this book, it’s still my favourite.

For once, we actually have three very different bad guys, the principal, Carmelita, and Count Olaf who all torment the Baudelaires in their own cruel ways. From making the siblings live in a tin shack full of fungus and crabs, to constant bullying over their status as orphans, to having them run laps from dusk until dawn. However, the bright side of this one is the introduction of my favourite characters: the Quagmire triplets, Duncan and Isadora!

Not to mention that this is the first book in the series to really kick off the “arc” of the books to come, which is truly starting to figure out just who Olaf is and what is going on with the events surrounding the death of not only the Baudelaire parents, but the Quagmires as well. Even after all this time, I love this book.

The Ersatz Elevator

19792507Here’s where things start to be new to me. Almost 15 years ago, I couldn’t get through this one. I found it incredibly boring compared to the previous books and I just hated to the point where I don’t even think I got passed the second chapter. But this time, I pushed myself through it and spent the majority of the book yelling at it.

Finally we got the twists I was looking for, we got new characters, we got more of the Quagmires, and even hints about what this V.F.D. that is constantly surrounding them could mean. I can’t believe I thought this one was boring when I was a kid.

The Vile Village

150037There was not as much screaming from me in this one, because it started to drive me a little crazy with the incompetence of the adults in this universe. The children are abandoned once again by Mr. Poe to be “raised” by an entire village of people who don’t even seem to know what a child does let alone how to care for one.

However, we finally get to know more about Lemony Snicket, and why he is the one who is so determined to chronicle this sad story. The best part of this book, is that all the little details and little things that don’t quite have any meaning finally have meaning. Not only that, but we know that the Quagmires are going to be okay. Of all the books so far, this is the first one I’m genuinely wondering how they’ll pull it off in the television series on Netflix.

The Hostile Hospital

254596The siblings are free of Mr. Poe, but unfortunately that is not a good thing… On the run from the law due to false accusations that they are murders. Their fleeing leads them to another group called the V.F.D. that takes them to a hospital containing records on just about everything (for some illogical reason), meaning that somewhere is the file for what happened to their family. Of course, their luck is as terrible as one would think and they don’t find the file but stumble onto something far more interesting: The Snicket File.

 

 

The Carnivorous Carnival

324277If I was wondering how in the world they were going to accomplish The Vile Village, I’m very curious to know how they manage to do The Carnivorous Carnival. There was more yelling as I read this one but we officially have hit cliffhanger endings and I for sure won’t be holding off reading the last four books until next year.

First off, this book makes a Dead Ringers reference, and after the previous book taking place in a hospital, it made me laugh so hard I almost dropped my Kobo. Next off, I love that we’re really getting more about V.F.D. and what that will mean for the ending. I know it’s book 9, and with any other series, I’d think it was taking too long, but Snicket is truly a master of pacing with these books and I am thrilled to finally be reading them to the ending.

Conclusion

I know this hasn’t been much of a review as it is a reaction post, but at the end of the day, I am definitely enjoying this middle section of A Series of Unfortunate Events. The actual mystery is really taking hold and it’s so enjoyable even after all these years. I haven’t been able to start watching the new season yet, but I am definitely looking forward to it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

REVIEW: Why We Broke Up

Min has broken up with boyfriend, Ed. He’s a popular boy and she’s not so many may wonder why on earth she would break his fragile, masculine heart. Here is why.

The Story

Daniel Hander (better known as Lemony Snicket) tells the story of Min Green as she falls in what she calls love with Ed Slaterton, co-captain of the basketball team and pretty much the popular playboy of their school. Her friends disprove as do Ed’s and the story becomes one of subtle high school gaslighting and the fragility of toxic masculinity. It was an interesting look at high school romances and how intense the feelings can be for a relationship that only lasts a few weeks at the most. I, personally, feel that the absolute subtlety of the gaslighting is something to do with it’s hard to pick up on unless you have experienced a relationship where it happened (of course opinions in that regard will obviously vary).

The Characters

I love Min and relate to her so much. She’s obsessed with classic cinema, she’s reasonably intelligent, and she is also naive as hell. The moment Ed is nice to her, she finds herself falling, a side effect of her lack of self-confidence that comes out later in the book. She doubts herself and allows herself to be “in love” with someone who is completely wrong for her despite what her friends say. It’s a difficult position to be in and one I know well which made Min so incredibly relatable.

Ed, on the other hand, is almost every ex-boyfriend I had in my youth. He thinks that buying presents and simply saying “Sorry” every time he does something offensive and/or stupid will fix his problems. He throws out words like “gay”, “faggy”, and the likes when he doesn’t like things. But despite these problems that become more and more evident as the story goes on, he is written in a way that makes the reader understand why Min is so certain she is in love with him, and that he loves her back.

The side characters (of which there are several who are important to the story), are rounded and real, only helping to further flesh out a story told in a letter to a douchey boyfriend.

The Issues [spoilers]

The issues with the book aren’t even really issues, as they are addressed as the plot furthers, but are still enough that it might put people off. As I mentioned above, Ed is the image of toxic masculinity. He thinks anything “artistic” or not macho is “gay” or “faggy” and is constantly accusing Min’s friend Al of being gay for liking the same things she does. Not only that, but at the end of the novel when Min discovers that Ed has been cheating on her, he compares it the friendship Min and Al share (which, in case you couldn’t tell, makes Ed jealous).

This book is a serious look at the excuses men (note: anyone who says “No all men” in the comments of this is a part of the problem) make for their crappy behaviour. It’s a look at toxic people who have us push away those we care about because their hold over us is threatened by the ones telling us the truth that we are too blind to see.

Conclusion ★★★★

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I seriously enjoyed it and Handler is unparallelled in his ability to make an atmosphere so intense that it is just as threatening in your head as it is out of it (if that makes sense). He is able to spin the story to make you feel paranoid about why the atmosphere makes you uncomfortable or if that’s truly the feeling you have in the pit of your stomach. There were times where it came off as a bit pretentious, and I found myself slightly distracted, but it was a wonderfully written novel that introduces some interesting insight into toxic relationships without making it entirely obvious that that is the point of the story.

Definitely worth picking up if you’re curious about how Handler writes when he’s not donning the persona of Lemony Snicket.


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Author: Daniel Handler (with illustrations by Maira Kalman)
Published: 
December 27th 2011
Pages: 
354
Publisher:
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN:
9780316127257

Summary: Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.