Friday, March 23, 2018

Book Review: The Carnivorous Carnival (A Series of Unfortunate Events #9)

Release Date: October 17, 2002
Author: Lemony Snicket
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 286 pages
Source: Purchased Book/Library Audiobook

Dear Reader,

The word "carnivorous," which appears in the title of this book, means "meat-eating," and once you have read such a bloodthirsty word, there is no reason to read any further. This carnivorous volume contains such a distressing story that consuming any of its contents would be far more stomach-turning than even the most imbalanced meal.
To avoid causing discomfort, it would be best if I didn't mention any of the unnerving ingredients of this story, particularly a confusing map, an ambidextrous person, an unruly crowd, a wooden plank, and Chabo the Wolf Baby.
Sadly for me, my time is filled with researching and recording the displeasing and disenchanting lives of the Baudelaire orphans. But your time might be better filled with something more palatable, such as eating your vegetables, or feeding them to someone else.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket.



Protagonists: So, for a while there I was really doubting if I actually read any character development with the three Baudelaire children later in the series. I mean, I know that Sunny has a bit of development in the later books, first foreshadowed in this one actually, but I wasn't sure if as I child I had just filled in the blanks in my head or not. Luckily, when I reread the previous installment, I was happy to finally find some internal conflict with these characters, though part of me doubted if it would continue, and luckily again, it does. In this story, the Baudelaires face a lot of internal conflict as they've sort of turned the tables on Count Olaf, and are now the ones following him and dressing up in disguises. However, the parallels are not lost on them and they are forced to make many difficult decisions, which, unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for me, forces them to look at their own morality and wonder if they've crossed a line. I was happy to get more internal conflict with these characters, and while I do wish there was more individuality among them, other than their personal talents, I did enjoy seeing some real character development with them.

World Building: So, while I gave the series a lot of flack for its underdeveloped world in previous reviews, and that is sort of true here, I did feel we got a bit more world-building in this story, a lot more actually, now that I think about it. In the past things would just sort of feel vague and hand waved and just a bit too simplistic, however in this book we do learn more about the world, or I guess we learn more about VFD and a lot of the mysteries that have been building up for some time, we learn answers to questions that I'm sure many a reader has had since as early as The Wide Window or  The Miserable Mill. That all being said, I wish I understood better how this world worked, I wish we knew where this story takes place, if it even takes place in our world, or just one like it lost to time. I just feel like the world itself could have been handled a bit better.

Foreshadowing: So, I didn't really notice that much foreshadowing for future books in this installment. I mean sure there are questions brought up that I know will be answered later, but I couldn't pick up on any Easter Eggs for future books like I could with The Hostile Hospital. As for foreshadowing for this specific book, well Lemony Snicket does a fantastic job once again of telling just enough of the story ahead of time to give you fair warning, but at the same time keep enough suspense to drive you further along in the series.

Ending: Once again things are shaken up a bit here at the end. With a rather riotous finale that I was excited to see had callbacks to previous events in the series, followed by more and more unfortunate events, the climax really ended with a bang. There is a small cooldown period where things look a bit dicey but mostly safe, only to find the Baudelaires in their most unfortunate ending yet. This ends the arc that Season 2 of the Netflix series will cover, and with it, and based on the end of the first season, I have an idea about how it will end using my knowledge of the rest of the series, and if it ends how I think it will, it'll have those not in the know freaking out!


I thought about giving this story 5, or even 4.5 stars, and while I really enjoyed this installment upon a reread, I just can't help but feel like we aren't getting enough. I mean, we finally get more character development and more world-building, but after looking it over we don't get that much, it only felt like a lot at the time because there wasn't that much in the beginning of the series, and it didn't feel right giving this book a higher star rating, on par with a lot better books, just because it's incrementally getting better.


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