The last book in Lemony Snicket’s popular children’s series A Series of Unfortunate Events will be released on October 13th 2006. This book is appropriately titled, The End. Fans of the series will be able to catch the inside jokes of the date of release (Friday the thirteenth) as well as the fact that the last book is the thirteenth book. The number 13 symbolizes bad luck, and this series has bad luck and misery as one of its prime gimmicks.
A cursory look at the books may lead one to think that the books are nothing but a bunch of literary tricks. Aside from the misery, there’s the narrator’s habit of speaking directly to the reader. The asides are either to warn us not to continue reading, or to define words used in the book. There is also the mystery of Beatrice. However, the books have gradually taken on a more sophisticated tone.
A Series of Unfortunate Events chronicles the sad tale of the Baudelaire siblings, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, who were orphaned when their parents died in a terrible fire, and are now on the run from the evil Count Olaf, who wants to steal their fortune. Early in the series, the characters were stock types. Violet could rig up inventions at crucial moments, and always tied her hair back with a ribbon so she could think.
Klaus was a book worm, whose encyclopedic knowledge helped get him and his sisters out of many jams. Sunny, the baby, had incredibly strong teeth, which she used on various difficult occasions. These were the pertinent facts about the characters, which carried over to each book.
Each book also had inept guardians and dastardly villains, working for Count Olaf. But, readers can see changes and see the books take on more serious tones later in the series. The biggest change comes from Sunny, who grows from a baby into a toddler. Her change isn’t just chronological, but also shows itself in her maturity. She gained a new skill, cooking. Her vocabulary started off being a mixture of complex words instead of common ones and words that are plays on other words or concepts, but as each book progressed, her talking became easier to understand. She also began to walk, and that represented the need for all the Baudelaires to take care of themselves, instead of relying on well meaning, but ineffectual adults.
The second to last book, The Penultimate Peril, posed a very hard question. How far can good people go in order to survive before they can no longer be considered good? In this book, the Baudelaires inadvertently cause a death, help villains, and deliberately burn down a hotel for a good reason, but with bad consequences. The book also raised the question of whether the Baudelaire parents were good people. Count Olaf was fleshed out as well. At one point, he seemed to want to do the right thing, but was unsure of how to. At the end of the book, the Baudelaires found themselves in an unusual situation -escaping along with Count Olaf.
The last book in A Series of Unfortunate Events is sure to contain its fair share of misery. Here’s hoping it will also provide a somewhat happy ending, give more detailed glimpses into the characters, and pose more interesting questions (and perhaps a few answers) before we say goodbye to the Baudelaires.