16 October 2006

The End

Well, I wasn’t waiting eagerly, but when I learned that The End of the Series of Unfortunate Events was being released on Friday, I had to finish up the series.

I’d had some reservations regarding where Handler seemed to be headed in The Penultimate Peril. I wasn’t comfortable regarding the differences between Volunteers and Villains he chose to underline; namely that Volunteers and noble people are blind, weak, and ineffectual while Villains and evil people are the only ones with the strength and brains to get anything done. He was blurring the lines too much. I felt, if he continued in the direction he seemed to be going in PP, that these books could be more dangerous than some people think Harry Potter is.

The good news is that he doesn’t really clarify this blurred image in the way I thought he would, pursuing it to its logical end. The bad news is that he doesn’t clarify much of anything else, either, and there is no logical end. I got to the last page with no sense of closure or resolution. The story doesn’t really conclude; rather it just stops being told.

At first, I thought the books were interestingly written, but the cleverness got old after awhile. I started skimming when I got to the fourth volume. There seemed to be no forethought in the plotting of these books, just where ever Handler’s imagination decided to go that day. He’s an authorial nomad.

I think Handler could be counted among the plethora of clever modern writers, who, while they may have talent, they don’t use their talent in a skillful manner or display much craftsmanship. He doesn’t really seem to know how to plot one book, much less a series of thirteen, at least from what I read in these; his grown-up novels don’t tempt me at all. He drops all kinds of clues along the way, but they don’t point to anything particular and we’re never really let in on the secret.

I wish now that I’d listened to Lemony Snicket, put these books down, and snuggled up with a quilt, a cup of tea, and The Littlest Elf.

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