Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: "Who Could That Be at This Hour?" - Lemony Snicket

"Who Could That Be at This Hour?" by Lemony Snicket
Series: All the Wrong Questions #1
Genre: Middle Grade, mystery
Published on October 24, 2012
Published by Little Brown
Pages: 258
Read From: 11.25.13 - 11.25.13

Before you consider reading "Who Could That Be at This Hour?" ask yourself these questions: 
1) Are you curious about what is happened in a seaside town that is no longer by the sea? 
2) Do you want to know more about a stolen item that wasn't stolen at all? 
3) Do you really think that's any of your business? Why? What kind of person are you? Are you sure? 
4) Who is that standing behind you?


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I miss Brett Helquist's illustrations; I really do. A Series of Unfortunate Events is partly so charming because of his illustrations and cover art. That said, this particular artwork does fit All the Wrong Questions very well. I still miss Brett Helquist, but I can accept this cover art, too. I like how each picture references something significant in the story itself.

Characters: I had a lot of favorites in A Series of Unfortunate Events, and probably one of my absolute favorites was always the Author himself: Lemony Snicket. So how could I say no to a series that has twelve-year-old Snicket as the protagonist? (I assume he's twelve; the book doesn't actually say.) A very mysterious character in A Series of Unfortunate Events, it was a lot of fun to meet him as a kid and potentially learn more about some things that led up to his role in said 13-book series. And even at such a young age, Snicket has the wit we all know so well. He's a polite kid, always doing what he can, and always being ignored by adults, and yet he has such awesome sarcasm. I just cannot say how much I love Lemony Snicket - as an author and character. He's just awesome. And yay him - he doesn't like coffee! As for the other characters . . . Where to begin? S. Theodora Markson is hilariously maddening. A classic clueless and pushy adult, I'm having a lot of fun disliking and laughing at her. The two girl characters - Moxie and Ellington Feint - are just awesome. Both strong and intelligent girls, with just enough snark. I have to say, though, that so far the villain - Hangfire - is a bit of a disappointment after Count Olaf. Granted, it's hard to beat Count Olaf; he was one of a kind. And Hangfire could still deliver; we haven't seen much of him/her yet. But still . . . I miss Count Olaf.

The Romance: There isn't any! Perhaps there might be a bit between Ellington and Snicket, but I get the feeling that Ellington just has fun making Snicket blush, and Snicket is just prone to blushing really easily.

Plot: Before a certain collection of books known as A Series of Unfortunate Events, pertaining to the woeful lives of three charming and rich orphans, Lemony Snicket was a young boy on his way to a special assignment, in a town called Stain'd-by-the-Sea. His superior is a woman named S. Theodora Markson, whose job it is to investigate strange goings-on in Stain'd-by-the-Sea. The problem is S. Theodora Markson isn't as clever as she thinks, and she also isn't willing to listen to a kid who just might know a thing or two more. But Snicket has his own reasons for choosing her to be his "guardian." Almost as soon as Snicket and Markson arrive in Stain'd-by-the-Sea, they are called to investigate the theft of a peculiar statue of a legendary local sea monster. But has it really been stolen? Or are there darker games afoot? Two very good questions, but unfortunately, these aren't the questions Snicket asks. He, instead, asks - as the series title implies - all of the wrong questions. Classic Lemony Snicket. Stain'd-by-the-Sea is a bizarre little town; one that is brimming with hidden references pulled from literature and common sayings. Everything is impossible, yet the Reader gets totally drawn into a town that survives on the production of ink extracted by giant needles from poor, cowering octopus in caves. There's also an impossible forest made up of seaweed gone totally rampant. The era is entirely unplaceable. Maybe it's modern, but there's a distinct 30's/Victorian feel. This all makes for the bizarre, fascinating, and thoroughly engaging world of Lemony Snicket. Taking place several years before A Series of Unfortunate Events, returning fans will be delighted with recognizing future locations, such as the Fountain of Victorious Finance, and even meeting familiar characters. And yes, you will be constantly wondering if events in this series might possibly explain some of those bothersome questions in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Does it? I can't say. And knowing Snicket, he won't confirm either way, either. Even so, I really, really enjoyed this mystery. Easy enough to solve, it's still delightful, especially when - in classic Snicket style - the Author continually hints at a much bigger plot (which may or may not be connected to the Baudelaire story). I can tell you one thing right now, though: I do not want this to just be a four-book series. I want more!

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: First person, past tense. And Snicket is our narrator. Yay! I have always enjoyed his cynical, sarcastic, and sometimes random and bizarre humor. It's no different in this book. I loved it! While perhaps not the most poetic writing style in existence, it has a unique flair. And the humor certainly makes up for it.

Content: None.

Conclusion: Snicket's books are known for frustrating endings. Thank goodness I had Book #2 to pick up right afterward. I may be a bit biased towards Snicket's books. As a kid, I absolutely loved, loved, loved A Series of Unfortunate Events. I was one of his most dedicated fans, buying all of the stuff, scouring the books and the internet for clues, and spending a lot of time debating my theories with other fans. Not meaning to brag, but I was right over half the time, and for a while, I was even mistaken for Lemony Snicket on a fan forum. They didn't know I was a girl, and my username was simply "Q." And "Q" seemed to have a tendency of being right about theories. "Q" also strenuously denied being Snicket, which is something Snicket would do. "Q" also had a blurry black-and-white photograph of a fedora as "his" profile picture. So, yes, I was a dedicated Snicketeer. So it shocked me when someone else told me about his new series - a year after the first book was out! How did I not know about it?! I snatched it up as soon as I possibly could and gobbled it down. Snicket's books may never be called great literature - not like Charles Dickens or Jane Austen. But his books are pure fun, they're clever, they have great characters, they introduce kids to new words and classic literature, and - well, they're Lemony Snicket. I had forgotten how much I missed his books; I felt like a kid again.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-boy read, fans of Lemony Snicket!!!!!!

Others in the All the Wrong Questions Series:
1)"Who Could That Be at This Hour?"
2)"When Did You See Her Last?"
3)"Shouldn't You Be in School?"

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