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You might be asking, “Charlene, why haven’t you been posting many book reviews these days?” I’m afraid to tell you that that’s the wrong question. The correct question is “Why haven’t you found any new books to review?”
Well, the simple answer is that I had difficulty finding books that interested me enough for a review. A lot of the books in the teen section are either romance, supernatural romance or dystopian romance. And you know how I feel about romance. So for the first few days of December, I’ve been looking for new books to read. I didn’t have much luck in the teen section, but I did remember this one book series that my friend has been crazy about recently.
I tried searching for it in the bookstore, but I couldn’t find it. Luckily, my friend has been kind enough to lend the series to me so I can read it. I would like to thank him for his generosity, good taste in literature, and for introducing me to new material for book reviews. This is All The Wrong Questions.
A Little Bit Of Background
Lemony Snicket is an author famous for his unique writing style. When Lemony Snicket writes, the fourth wall will not go unscathed, side comments will be made, and weird comparisons may arise. His most famous book series is A Series of Unfortunate Events, which I will have to read sometime. The subject of this review, however, is the prequel to that book series.
All The Wrong Questions is based off of hard-boiled detective stories and has a film noir aesthetic to it, which I really like. (Story time: There was an activity at school where the students had to dress up as book characters, and my friend and his group came as characters from this book, wearing things such as suits, sweater vests and some cool hats. The fact that they reminded me of mafia stories may or may not be what drew me to this book series. Anyway, on with the review!)
For this edition, I’ll be reviewing the whole series of books, so this is going to be a little different.
The story focuses on 13-year-old Lemony Snicket, who is at a town called Stain’d-By-The-Sea investigating a series of cases for a secret organization. He meets and interacts with the citizens of the town and goes around looking for clues.
All his clues lead to the work of a mysterious villain called Hangfire who has sinister plans for Stain’d-By-The-Sea. Said plans involve honeydew melons. He also meets a girl named Ellington Feint, whose father is being held captive by Hangfire. Besides investigating the incidents around town, Snicket promises to help Ellington find her father. Most of the story is driven with these two goals in mind. Shenanigans happen, and things do not always go according to plan.
The first book practically begs you to read the rest of the series. The books follow a bit of a pattern (which is why I took away that .5), but the way that events happen and cases are resolved is never the same. The story offers up questions that will keep you reading and coming back for more, and all the important ones are answered satisfyingly well in the end. Of course, there’s the signature lemony narration, which makes it very entertaining. Snicket also drops a lot of references to other books without mentioning titles, so it’s a fun guessing game.
This is a mystery book, so every last little detail is important in later events. You really need to pay super-close attention when reading. What might seem like just extra information will be referenced again one way or another. Keep your eyes peeled. If there’s Chekhov’s Gun, this book has a Chekhov’s Arsenal.
I absolutely loved the characters in the series. Their personalities were very unique and engaging and they felt very real, like people you could be friends with. Snicket still has his signature writing style here, which makes his character very entertaining. The people of Stain’d-By-The-Sea, especially Moxie Mallahan the journalist and Pip and Squeak the taxi drivers, are also fun to read about.
Personally, Ellington Feint was my favorite character. Her personality coupled with her actions and motivations made for someone very unique and interesting. I would always look forward to the parts of the book where she would show up. She’s the kind of character that keeps you on your toes because you don’t know what she’ll do next. The highlights of her personality really show through in the later books and the ending, which I will not spoil here. Now I really want a sequel with her as the main character. (Story time 2: She reminds me of a classmate of mine, who is also a very smart girl who likes coffee. That’s cool.)
I really liked Stain’d-By-The-Sea, a former seaside town where all the sea is drained out and seaweed still grows on the ground for some reason. I liked the almost-abandoned-but-not-really feeling. It hits the perfect balance between fictional and real, between a stereotypical crime movie town and a town you might stop by during a road trip. The places, such as the lighthouse, the abandoned coffee shop, and the library, all play some role in the story or another, so they weave in perfectly.
This is a great mystery book to pass the time. It’s a series that I had a hard time putting down and would really like to read again. It’s perfect for older kids and younger teenagers, but really, anyone can read it and have fun. It’s also good for re-reading because of all the little blink-and-you’ll-miss-it details you might overlook on a first reading.
It’s a good book with excellent writing, engaging settings and characters, and a well-paced plot to lose yourself in. Go on, try it! Or not, whatever floats your boat.
You might also be asking “Why aren’t you sticking to your update schedule?” That’s also the wrong question. In this case, the right question is “How will you make up for the updates you missed?” and the answer is that I will be posting three reviews in December. The next one will be published next week. Stay tuned!