July 16, 2012

Recommend A... Book by a Male Author

Recommend A... is a new weekly feature hosted by Chick Loves Lit, where bloggers recommend a book based on a specific prompt. This week's prompt is to recommend a book by a male author.

I had a surprisingly difficult time trying to come up with a response. I guess I need to make sure I read enough books by male authors! Here's my recommendation for this week:

I sincerely hope that most people have already read the series. But even if not everyone has read the series yet, chances are you've at least heard of them. A Series of Unfortunate Events tells the story of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, who have recently become orphaned. Although they are heirs to a large fortune, they cannot inherit anything until they come of age. They have no close living relatives, either, and so are sent to live with their distant cousin, Count Olaf. He has their fortune at heart more than their best interests, however, so the thirteen books detail how the orphans must escape from one nefarious plot after another.

The books are a little over the top. Author Lemony Snicket (real name Daniel Handler) acts as the narrator of the series, mapping each misfortune and bad event in the lives of the Baudelaires. In some ways I felt talked down to in the novels. Snicket has a tendency to over-define and explain words unnecessarily throughout the series. He is also the more overdramatic and dire narrator I’ve ever read. But the series is much cleverer than that, as I came to realize over time. I think Snicket's tendency to go into detail about certain words or concepts has more to do with the overall absurdist tone of the books. The Baudelaires really do through terrible events. And each child is a bit of a caricature and not always as fleshed-out as they could be. But that is okay for me. I just enjoyed reading the series and finding out what scheme Count Olaf would employ next. 

What I enjoyed most about the series was actually the world-building and history that Snicket gradually revealed throughout the series. In my opinion, it was even more interesting to find out than the Count Olaf schemes were (which do tend to get a bit repetitive). Although the books seem pretty basic at first and the first three have the same plot (I was all ready to give up on them at one point), they do get better and better. Snicket creates all these questions and mysteries and suddenly there's a lot more at stake for Violet, Klaus, and Sunny besides simply evading Count Olaf. And there are answers for those who stick around for all thirteen books! And I can’t forget to mention the gradually-revealed romance between narrator Snicket and the mysterious Beatrice is just wonderful.

Thirteen books may seem like a lot, but it's not really. They're super fast reads and a lot of fun. The movie version was all right, but this is one middle grade series that I think every person should read, regardless of age. In my opinion this is middle grade done right. If Snicket creates any more series, I will probably read them. 

So have you read this series? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?

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Amanda loves few things better than sitting down with a cup of tea and a book. She frequently stays up far too late, telling herself she just needs to finish one more page. When she's not wrapped up in the stories of others, Amanda works as a children's librarian in a public library.


  1. What a good choice! I finally got around to finishing this a few summers ago and I reeeeally liked it. The great thing about it for me is that there're some subtleties that make it a good read for readers older than typical MG. Thanks for sharing!

    Here's mine.

    1. Thanks! I agree - if there weren't subtleties and other traces of cleverness, then I would not have been able to read this whole series.


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