Author: Lemony Snicket
Publisher: Little Brown
Length: 258 pages
Source: Borrowed Audiobook
The adventure began in a fading town. Far from anyone he knew or trusted, a young Lemony Snicket started an apprenticeship for a secret organization shrouded in mystery and secrecy. He asked questions that shouldn't have been on his mind. Now he has written an account that should not be published that shouldn't be read. Not even by you.
Seriously, we recommend that you do NOT ask your parents for this, the first book in his new ALL THE WRONG QUESTIONS series.
Lemony Snicket, in case you don't already know, grew up to be the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events series
Protagonist: Lemony Snicket finds himself involved with a secret organization and under the care of a rather overbearing, quirky, and redundant chaperone. On (as far as I can tell) his first mission for this unnamed organization, Lemony is charged with retrieving a stolen statue, but not too long into the case, it becomes clear that this case isn't as open and shut as it appears. One of my biggest pet peeves and this seems to happen more in books aimed MG and younger, is the idiot adult and brilliant child trope. I understand that this is meant make a younger audience feel special and intelligent, but it doesn't make for a universally appealing book. Lemony is one such child who is unusually bright, and while I like him as a character, but when juxtaposed against comically idiotic adults it makes for a rather unpleasant and groan-inducing cast of characters.
World Building: Going into this book all I knew was that it was about a young Lemony Snicket, though I didn't comprehend just how young he'd be. My first big hiccup with this book was that it begins with the reader sort of dropped in the middle of Lemony's transition to this secret organization that he starts working for. It's a bit awkward and while it's easy enough to forget about once the main plot of the book starts, the beginning of this tale produces more questions than it answers. As this book gets started it's easy to recognize Snicket's rather unique writing style. The world he builds has the same timeless feel as the one in ASoUE, most likely because it IS the same world, but as far as I know the location featured in this book isn't one visited or even mentioned in the series about the Baudelaire orphans. That isn't to say there aren't Easter eggs that connect with that other series, in fact, I'm almost positive that by the time this series ends there will finally be answers to some long-asked questions.
Predictability: I am really happy that I'm able to review this book after the first time I've read it because this section will not only be easier to write but will be a lot more honest. I wasn't expecting this book to be the mystery that it is, nor was I expecting that the overarching story for the entire series would stifle the mystery of this book so much. That all being said, I did really enjoy this mystery and while I was never really completely caught off guard, except for one small moment toward the end, I reveled in watching this mystery unfold and reveal some of, though not all of, it's many secrets.
Ending: One of my favorite mystery tropes is the classic "Parlor Room" scene, where the main character goes through the mystery from the beginning, explaining any clues the reader, or in some cases viewer, might have missed before finally cracking the case and revealing "whodunnit." This book did have a similar type of scene, however, since rather large aspects of this mystery bleed into the larger series storyline, there are some large questions still left unanswered by the end of this book. With this author's track record of leaving seemingly very important questions unanswered I am a bit nervous but I will continue this series, not only because I enjoyed this book, but also because I hope that my burning questions will be answered.
It was so much fun to read a new Lemony Snicket book, his writing style is so unique that it's a joy to experience a new tale by him. Unfortunately, there was only so much that nostalgia can do, and since this is a "new to me" tale, not even my nostalgia could cover up some of the tropes that I haven't been a fan of for some time. That all being said I do look forward to the next installment and I hope to find some answers I've been waiting years to discover.