Yesterday morning’s gym book was a Series of Unfortunate Events 07: the Vile Village (Young Adult 256 pages) by Lemony Snicket.
“Dear Reader, You have undoubtedly picked up this book by mistake, so please put it down. Nobody in their right mind would read this particular book about the lives of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire on purpose, because each dismal moment of their stay in the village of V.F.D. has been faithfully and dreadfully recorded in these pages. I can think of no single reason why anyone would want to open a book containing such unpleasant matters as migrating crows, an angry mob, a newspaper headline, the arrest of innocent people, the Deluxe Cell, and some very strange hats. It is my solemn and sacred occupation to research each detail of the Baudelaire children’s lives and write them all down, but you may prefer to do some other solemn and sacred thing, such as reading another book instead. With all due respect, Lemony Snicket.”
One of the funniest things to me throughout this entire book was the continuous reference to the Littlest Elf, which was the deeply traumatic elf cartoon at the beginning of the movie Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events. That was the animated short at the beginning of the movie I watched several days ago that made me seriously wonder if I’d actually gotten the right movie. And the animated short was very, very traumatic. According to page 2, the Littlest Elf “tells the story of a teensy-weensy little man who scurries around Fairyland having all sorts of adorable adventures.” Of course, you’re encouraged to read that story often throughout this book, which I am now remarkably curious about, to see if it really exists. (Apparently, there is a book with that title, but it came out in 2012 and it’s by Brandi Dougherty and Kristen Richards, but I don’t think it was the one Lemony Snicket mentions repeatedly).
One of the points I have commented on for my previous reviews of this series is how much I enjoy the writing style. I like how the structure works and how the sentences flow. I think this is a great book for anyone, not just younger people because of how words are defined not just by the context but by a similar definition. The story, and the series, continues to subtly and not-so-subtly introduce new vocabulary to people who may want new words and to those who may not have a very extensive vocabulary to start with. There are many examples of words being used and also described in context and defined, which I think is a great way to improve a reader’s vocabulary. And it’s written in such a way as to not be condescending, but to also demonstrate the full meaning of the intent of the word when used in very specific context.
This novel’s kind and supportive character, Hector the handyman, actually does help the Baudelaire orphans and even the Quagmire triplets. It seems at first that he won’t be much use, since he doesn’t speak up for Violet, Klaus, and Sunny when they are attempting to tell the Village of Fowl Devotees (V.F.D.) that Jacques Snicket is not actually Count Olaf and that they shouldn’t burn him at the stake. There are several times when Hector might have had the chance to speak up the Baudelaire orphans, but doesn’t because the Council of Elders makes him feel skittish, and for good reason. With so many rules, especially rules against things Hector enjoys such as reading and inventing, it makes sense that the Council of Elders would make him uncomfortable. It’s also nice that he actually does something useful. He knows that the Council of Elders makes him skittish, but he’s still willing to use the hot air mobile home to help the Baudelaires and Quagmires escape from Count Olaf.
I really liked the way the Quagmires used rhyming couplets to give clues to the Baudelaires and how it’s a very neat puzzle. The puzzles in these books are some of the reasons that I enjoy this series so much. I know that there is a puzzle and that the solution is usually quite plain, but I constantly find myself having that “Ah-ha!” moment where I figure out the puzzle and how clever that puzzle was.
There’s a lot going on in this book and the books get more complicated the deeper into the series I get. I’m enjoying it greatly and overall, I’d probably rate this book as a solid three on my rating scale because I really like the writing style, the characters are unique, and the message is mostly a positive one (for all that the book is not a happy story). I’m glad that I own this book and will continue with the rest of the books in the series.
Works cited: Snicket, Lemony. A Series of Unfortunate Events: the Vile Village. New York: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2001.