Summary from Goodreads:
If this is the first book you found while searching for a book to read next, then the first thing you should know is that this next-to-last book is what you should put down first. Sadly, this book presents the next-to-last chronicle of the lives of the Baudelaire orphans, and it is next-to-first in its supply of misery, despair, and unpleasantness.
Probably the next-to-last thing you would like to read about are a harpoon gun, a rooftop sunbathing salon, two mysterious initials, three unidentified triplets, a notorious villain, and an unsavory curry.
Next-to-last things are the first thing to be avoided, and so allow me to recommend that you put this next-to-last book down first, and find something else to read next at last, such as the next-to-last book in another chronicle, or a chronicle containing other next-to-last things, so that this next-to-last book does not become the last book you will read.
With all due respect,
This book was the most absurd one yet. The humor had me continuously laughing out loud. I just feel like I’m in this super comfy/snug place now with this narrator’s voice and sense of humor. And I know the end is near, and I’m going to miss this so much. I’m going to miss laughing on my way to work in the morning.
Also, I found myself amazed at the level of thought and extreme planning that went into this installment. Everything is slowly coming together. So many past characters come to play in this novel. Characters from book 1 (who I haven’t seen in 11 books) are important again. A lot of the repetition that so irked me for so long is finally making sense. The pieces are all fitting together and the sheer concept of what this author has had planned from the first book, is genius.
The setting is just so cool too! The hotel is setup as part of the Dewey Decimal System. People are assigned rooms as to what number they would be organized by in a library catalog. My jaw dropped listening to this idea. I really love how Snicket respects a library.
The kids are getting even braver and even smarter. I love this theme of good versus bad and how the children are learning that bad people can do good things and good people can do bad things. It was a couple of books ago, when Snicket said, “People aren’t either wicked or noble. They’re like chef’s salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict." I think the kids didn’t necessarily understand this until this book.
Also, these kids don’t even let themselves pretend that things will work out. When it finally looks like things are going their way and the bad people of their lives will face a trial for all their wrongdoings, they don’t for one second let their hopes up. They know something bad can and most likely will happen before the trial can help them. These kids aren’t afraid of rejecting Mr. Poe, speaking out in front of Justice Strauss, making their own decisions about about who is noble and who is wicked, starting fires, and leaving with the enemy. These kids are brave. They have come to not care how others see them because even when they behave their best, some newspaper reporter will write that they are murderers.
They know about crowd psychology, secret disguises, standing up for themselves, making inventions, researching, cooking fine meals, and so much more. They have become a force to be reckoned with. And I cannot wait to see how it all ends. This is one of my favorite installments of the series. I give it 10/10.