Thursday, October 19, 2006

Book Review: The End


I finally finished The End, book 13 of the Series of Unfortunate events, and I have to say that I don't know what the Washington Post was talking about. In her review, Tracy Grant says that the author " answers precious few of the questions readers have" and doesn't bring the story to a satisfying conclusion.

I couldn't disagree more. I found the ending to be extremely satisfying, in a Snicketish sort of way. I think it is the best ending that one could hope for from a series that has promised dire consequences from the beginning. The author didn't sell out and give us a happy ending, but neither did he give us an ending so dire that we would all go and hide away from the world forever. In fact, he gave us an ending that seems, well, real. Some things are wrapped up, some things work out, some things are sad, and some things don't have answers. But life goes on. If there is a message in this book, this is it: life goes on, and we just have to live it as best we can. Sometimes we make bad decisions. Sometimes right and wrong aren't always clear. Sometimes our questions aren't answered. Sometimes bad things happen. And sometimes we can find a moment of happiness even in the midst of pain.

In this book, Violet, Klaus and Sunny are shipwrecked on an island with Count Olaf. They find out more about their parents, but not the whole story, because no one can ever know the whole story. They encounter peer pressure and facilitators and bitter apples, and yes, the medusoid mycellium. They meet up with some old friends from previous books, but not all the old friends that they'd like to meet. They even find out the importance of the sugar bowl. (Yes, it's there, if you read carefully)

Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler has refined his subversive humor to a fine edge in this book, and there were so many symbols and cultural references that I couldn't keep up with even a small fraction of them. I'm going to have to go back through the book with Google as my friend to try to figure out all of Sunny's utterances. All in all, it was a satisfying ending to a thoroughly enjoyable series.

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