Sunday, November 26, 2006

The End, Lemony Snicket

Title: The End
Author: Lemony Snicket
Rating: OK

Here I sit, trying to analyze what I think of The End by Lemony Snicket. I guess, to use a phrase that appears regularly in the book itself, it depends on how you look at it.

On one hand, the story does end, and he (Daniel Handler, the author) does resolve - to some degree - the lives of the Baudelaire orphans. That's good, and it's handled reasonably well. On the other hand, and against that initial somewhat positive note, I have to set two things:

First, there is the constant background of mystery and the general feeling that if you read between the lines closely enough you'll learn something others will miss. That may not be true, but the whole series - particularly the supplemental books - have played things up to make it appear that way. I am lousy at puzzles of almost any kind, and I find the expectation (possibly self-inflicted) that I should be reading The End and all the others with a manic intensity, trying to figure out just how Beatrice fits into everything (for example) more than a bit annoying.

Second, it must be said that many of the things behind the events in the Baudelaire orphan's lives aren't explained. I won't give specific examples - that would be spoiling things - but there are all kinds of questions that could have been answered that simply aren't. Perhaps my expectations were created by the US movie making industry that wants to create a clean, concise story with a clear ending - wrapping up all the loose ends - in about 90 minutes. I don't know. What I do know is that The End would have been more satisfying if it contained a few of the answers that I'd come to expect. That it doesn't is a bit of a problem for me. In fact, in a review I wrote of the first 11 books in the series I said: "I hope the author resolves all the various loose ends well by book 13." I guess Handler didn't do that to my satisfaction, whatever the reason.

In addition to all of that, this book suffered because it has been too long since I read the previous book and the many books before it. Not enough of the story is fresh in my head to let me recall it easily. The author does remind the reader about past events where needed, but he's sparing in that area, and I needed more than I got.

That means that I really need to read the entire thing again, top to bottom, with all the books present so I can be fresh on things as I go into each volume. It will be interesting to do so and compare first opinions with later opinions when I get around to that exercise.