Friday, October 13, 2006

13 reasons on the 13th for the 13th book

The book I am referring to of course is The End, Book the Thirteenth in Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events. I started the series with great trepidation since I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it. Well, once I started I was hooked! So, here I'll write up 13 of my reasons to read this series of books. They are not presented in any particular order, aside from the order in which I can conjure them from my sleep deprived and generally befuddled brain.

Reason #1: Vocabulary

The author really does a splendid job of using obscure or neglected words of the English language. Not only that, but the words are often defined for you right in the book! You can't help but learn a thing or two. My favourite part about the vocabulary is how levels of meaning are added as you read the books. Certain scenes often refer to words, allegories and examples are added on, etc. so you get more than a simple dictionary definition. Definitely a useful skill for learning vocabulary in the real world and a clever way of adding meaning to the plots of the books.

Reason #2: Improve Your Reading Ability

Another interesting feature of the writing style is that the author will sometimes purposely use a convoluted way of explaining things to further his point in the book or to get across the children's sense of confusion. Even as an adult, there are parts I have to read over again to understand. I'm sure I will also go through the books and read them all again to pick up on little things I missed before in order to understand the whole story a little bit better. Then there's the whole repetition thing in which sentences, or even whole paragraphs or pages are repeated (although sometimes there are subtle changes made, so you really need to pay attention!)

Reason #3: Go Back in Time

Recapture all those vivid childhood emotions of fear, frustration, confusion, and helplessness through the wonderful prose descriptions of how the children feel.

Reason #4: Tickle Your Funny Bone

There are some incredibly funny moments in the book. Plus, if you appreciate irony at all, these books are rife with appreciable moments for you!

Reason #5: Sad Appeal

Sometimes we need to indulge ourselves in something that is sad. These books will definitely fit the bill.

Reason #6: The Car Crash Syndrome

This reason is a little bit morbid, but it's hard for us not to be drawn toward human suffering and tragedy. We do turn to look at a car wreck even though what we see may be disturbing and terrible. It's instinct.

Reason #7: Learn Something New

Similar to the vocabulary reason, the books are full of interesting factual information. Although, I'm not certain how much of it might be fiction for the purpose of the story. This is definitely a book in which all the benefits of knowledge are clearly spelled out and the children in the book value the knowledge that they do have.

Reason #8: Promote the Love of Books

Throughout the series the children encounter all kinds of libraries. Each library is a source of comfort for them - a reminder of home. Whenever they are without a library to refer to, they lament this fact. They are definitely book lovers, along with the mysterious narrator/author, as am I.

Reason #9: Good vs. Evil

One thing that has really kept me intrigued and wanting to get to the end of the series is to see just how this author will sound in on the classic good vs. evil debate. In the beginning (the bad one) the good characters seemed to be always on the losing end of things. However, as the plot thickened, the distinction between good and evil became less and less clear. Now I am quite curious how the ending will play out. Will he keep it sort of fuzzy about good action and evil action? Will there be a warm and fuzzy happy moral (a la the happy elf) at the end of a decidedly dark series? This is one of those things that could drastically reduce my esteem for the series if I think it's mishandled.

Reason #10: Humility

In reading this series as an adult, I think you will definitely further develop your sense of humility, which can be a good thing sometimes. You see, most of the really clever people in the series are children and the adults are often portrayed as clueless, self-involved, un-questioning dolts who can never see the plain truth even when it's right in front of them. Even the few adults who are kind of clever often have some strange habits. This must be how children often view adults. We just don't get it, do we!

Reason #11: Writing Style

The writing style is very unique. At times, the narrator's voice is extremely obvious. At times, he is silent. All sorts of literary conventions are used quite well. Then there is also the excellent use of image and page layout, something which I think is sometimes overlooked in non-picture type books.

Reason #12: I'm Committed

I liked the series enough to start wanting to own the whole thing. It's a pride thing for me to finish what I start once I've committed to it.

Reason #13: It's a Mystery

Another reason why is a reason that no one knows the answer to. It's a mystery and everyone loves those, right?

So, now I'll ask my readers . . . if you've read this series, what were your reasons? Of, if you disagree/agree with mine, leave me a comment.


Jenn said...

Another fabulous blogger made mention of the Lemony Snicket series recently. Go check out her post @ educating alice.

Kim said...

I've read a few of the Lemony Snicket books at the suggestion of a librarian friend. They are good, but I'm one of those "have to own the books" people and buying all those books is costly! I think that's why I stopped, actually. One day when I'm rich and have a lot of time one my hands, I'll buy and read all 13 books!
I agree with all your points, but particularly the vocabulary.

Anonymous said...

I've read the entire series - got the first one for Christmas last year and then my sister was into them. Just finished reading "The End" - I agree with Jenn for all of the points. I thoguht the definitions of the words were not only funny but clever. A pretty quick read for a series - I would say good and humerous but not the best series I have read as far as adventure goes. I also suspect there might be more books coming from this author.