Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket

Dear Reader,

If you are looking for a story about cheerful youngsters spending a jolly time at boarding school, look elsewhere. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are intelligent and resourceful children, and you might expect that they would do very well at school. Don't. For the Baudelaires, school turns out to be another miserable episode in their unlucky lives.

Truth be told, within the chapters that make up this dreadful story, the children will face snapping crabs, strict punishments, dripping fungus, comprehensive exams, violin recitals, S.O.R.E., and the metric system.

It is my solemn duty to stay up all night researching and writing the history of these three hapless youngsters, but you may be more comfortable getting a good night's sleep. In that case, you should probably choose some other book.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

I love that this book finally veered a little from the standard story arc. The kids finally had an opportunity to talk with other children, and make friends. Of course, the school was so absurd I couldn’t imagine any adult sending their children there. Also, I keep wishing Child Protective Services would get involved. I mean, seriously, these kids have been put through ridiculous amounts of child labor, neglect, and tragedy. And poor Sunny, the infant, has to work as a administrative assistant –who is required to make her own staples…
I kind of have found myself getting used to this absurd world though. I find myself nodding along to the narrator’s explanations for things like classes that only involve measuring objects or punishments involving no silverware at meal times, or shacks specifically designated for orphans. I’ve become so accustomed to the writing style and voice of the narrator, and I love this. And I love the narrator.
The one thing I still can’t nod along with though, is Mr. Poe.  Why is it so hard for him to recognize Count Olaf? Is he maybe partially blind?
I loved the triplets the children befriended. I loved the school setting. I loved the closeness that keeps growing between the siblings. I love how other adult characters can use logic and seem to sometimes just be there to point out how awful and non logical other adult characters are. The teachers (like the judge and some of the factory workers in books prior) did not see why it was necessary to expel the children. They were very impressed by how intelligent the kids were. I truly believe that if the kids had anyone but Mr. Poe, they’d be in a much healthier living arrangement by now.
This one also ended with a fun, different kind of cliffhanger. I’m super excited to see where things go from here. I think this installment was one of my favorites. I give it a 9/10.

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