Thursday, July 4, 2013

[Novel Review] Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket

Title: Who Could That Be at This Hour?
Series: All The Wrong Questions
Writer: Lemony Snicket
Illustrator: Seth
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Date: October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-316-12308-2

The adventure began in a fading town. Far from anyone he knew or trusted, a young Lemony Snicket started an apprenticeship for a secret organization shrouded in mystery and secrecy. He asked questions that shouldn't have been on his mind. 

Now he has written an account that should not be published that shouldn't be read. Not even by you. Seriously, we recommend that you do NOT ask your parents for this, the first book in his new ALL THE WRONG QUESTIONS series.

Lemony Snicket, in case you don't already know, grew up to be the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events series.



Maybe I put too high of an expectation for this new series by Lemony Snicket. I am, as you may have already known, a big fan of the Series of Unfortunate Events

In that series, Lemony Snicket acted as a narrator, as that one character that helped the plot, but not the main character altogether. It's different in All The Wrong Questions. Dated years back from A Series of Unfortunate Event's occurrence, it tells a story about Lemony's perplexing childhood after he graduated from his unusual education. Maybe that is why this series do not work as well as its predecessor. Having a narrator helped the overall quirky ambiance, which I did not quite grasp in this one.

Nonetheless, Snicket is still Snicket. If you are a fan of the previous series, you will know that he has a knack of putting clever children with annoying adults together. Here, Lemony Snicket is stuck with an unreliable chaperone, S. Theodora Markson. There were a lot of times when I wanted to slap S. Theodora in the face because she was that annoying (even Count Olaf didn't make me feel that way). 

The story itself is about how Snicket was brought to this faraway place called Stain'd by the Sea. It's an eerie and unpleasant deserted place with few people in it. Here, he was proposed to steal a statue that nobody wanted, and pursued by a villain that unfortunately interested in the same statue. The statue was  in a shape of Bombinating Beast, a mythical creature that was said had a shape of a question mark (which, ties back to the original A Series of Unfortunate Events).

The story got better as it went on. Along the ride I am constantly reminded on why I'd loved Snicket in the first place. See the quotes below:

"As a part of my education, I'd learned that one should never have a serious conversation in a position in which one has to look up at the other person. I'd thought this was a ridiculous thing to teach children, who tend to be shorter than anyone else, and said so."

There is this tendency in Snicket's writing where they put children in a position where they are much capable than the adults. It suggests that children actually know more than what adult think they do. On the other hand I don't really think that Snicket books are read by children. They meant to cater to adults who think that children would buy them... if that makes any sense at all.

"Children never tell adults anything either," I said. "The children of this world and the adults of this world are in entirely separate boats and only drift near each other when we need a ride from someone or when someone needs us to wash our hands."

And not to mention, if you don't enjoy the mystery that is offered in this book (which, by the way, goes unsolved. That is the way Snicket goes), you can still enjoy the twisted humour sprinkled here and there. 
"Get out!" she screamed, and like many actresses she practiced this line over and over again. "Get out! Get out! Get out!
"I meant to tell you," I said. "My deafness was cured by a treatment of root beer, so you don't have to shout at me."

Also, clever allegories. 
"There's not a single building left on Blotted Boulevard," Squeak agreed as I climbed into the backseat. 
"You know when someone tells you there's a monster under the bed?" I asked them. "And you know, of course, that there's no such thing, but you just have to check under the bed anyway? Well, that's what we're doing here." 

All in all, All The Wrong Questions is a treat for all Lemony Snicket fans. Beware, it is a series, so the mystery is not solved yet with the ending of this first book. However, there is a twist in the ending that is quite fulfilling. 

If you are a first-time reader for Snicket's work, I would recommend you to read all thirteen books of A Series of Unfortunate Events first before even venturing to this one. It will worth your time, I promise.

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