Lemony Snicket (i.e. Daniel Handler) is a very odd fellow. Which is probably why I love his books so much. He packs them full of references and wry, off-beat humor, while still maintaining a mostly light-hearted tone that helps his books appeal to children as well. I read through A Series of Unfortunate Events rather quickly, and appreciated that he didn’t end it on a “happily ever after” note, but still left it on one of hope.
His new series, “All The Wrong Questions”, has a similar approach. The series is meant to follow the fictional Snicket’s first cases in the VFD, that secret organization that seems to have been established because…reasons. The first book, “Who Could That Be At This Hour?”, jumps right into the oddness, and bizarrely imitates a noir mystery. The young Snicket, only 12, has just “graduated” from the VFD spy school/academy/whatever-it-is. He goes through a very convoluted process of meeting up with his new mentor, who is meant to show him the ropes of being a volunteer. However, a change of plans means he cannot carry out a scheme with a fellow volunteer, and is stuck in the middle of nowhere with an incompetent chaperone, solving a crime that may not have been committed, for a woman who may not exist. (Typical Snicket fare, if you couldn’t tell.)
The tone of this book was just a little more serious than the Unfortunate Events series. The incompetence of the adults is a little less humorous and seems to be a bit more realistic, if you can even use that word in conjunction with Snicket’s writings. It’s clear this new series is for somewhat older children, who are more likely to catch some of the subtleties. There were also some more amusing references to other books. I especially liked one line, which was something like “one of those books where elves and other people fight over a piece of jewelry that no one can wear, and there’s a very powerful wizard who doesn’t do anything”. I giggled over that one for a while. The book ends, in classic Snicket fashion, on a cliff-hanger hinting that there’s more to come. And I am ready for it.
And for extra lulz-"Scream and Run Away" by the Gothic Archies: