Shouldn’t You Be in School?

By Lemony Snicket

ShouldntYouBeInSchoolIf you don’t like peas, it is probably because you have not had them fresh.  It is the difference between reading a great book and reading the summary on the back.

One thing I appreciate about Lemony Snicket’s work is that he never tries to sugar coat the world.  He does tend to exaggerate.  I mean, let’s be honest, I’m an adult now, and most adults are not that incompetent and most children are not that noble.  But he does put his characters in situations where the good don’t always win and the antics of adults can be scary and unnerving.  I’d say that’s pretty true to life.

In Shouldn’t You Be in School? Snicket and his chaperone, Theodora, are hired to investigate a suspicious fire, but while Theodora is off arresting one of Snicket’s friends, Snicket is convinced Hangfire is the culprit behind all of Stain’d-by-the-Sea’s recent crimes, including this one.  Snicket continues to untangle the many mysteries of Stain’d-by-the-Sea, but the closer he gets to Hangfire, the more dangerous his mission becomes.

This is the third installment of the four-part series All the Wrong Questions, and in this book Snicket’s mystery starts to get darker and much more complicated.  This type of plot development probably sounds familiar to anyone who has read A Series of Unfortunate Events, but there are some key differences between Unfortunate Events and Wrong Questions.  Unfortunate Events is gothic fiction and focuses on all of the world’s wrongs and unanswered questions, this story, however, falls into the mystery genre and is all about finding answers to the questions.  In Unfortunate Events, the narrator knows the whole story.  He remains secretive and suspicious for reasons we may never know.  However, the narrator of Wrong Questions is just as confused and lost as the readers, and he is intent on finding all the answers to his many questions.  While Snicket still leaves quite a few unsolved mysteries at the end of this book, the reader is left with at least one solved case and the sense that the larger mystery will soon be explained.

But while I have faith that Snicket will answer our questions this time around (or at least more than usual), I can’t promise anything.  And that’s just part of the lure of reading Lemony Snicket.  He doesn’t play by the rules, he likes asking questions more than answering them, he likes mystery and intrigue.  When you pick up a Snicket book, you risk leaving with unanswered questions, but I’ll never tire of reading his work, because he (apparently) never tires of writing quippy insights and tantalizing mysteries.  A fair reward if you ask me.

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