Friday, March 9, 2018

Book Review: The Hostile Hospital (A Series of Unfortunate Events #8)

Release Date: January 31, 2001
Author: Lemony Snicket
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 255 pages
Source: Purchased Book/Library Audiobook

Dear Reader,

Before you throw this awful book to the ground and run as far away from it as possible, you should probably know why. This book is the only one which describes every last detail of the Baudelaire children's miserable stay at Heimlich Hospital, which makes it one of the most dreadful books in the world.

There are many pleasant things to read about, but this book contains none of them. Within its pages are such burdensome details as a suspicious shopkeeper, unnecessary surgery, an intercom system, anesthesia, heart-shaped balloons, and some very startling news about a fire. Clearly, you do not want to read about such things.

I have sworn to research this story, and to write it down as best I can, so I should know that this book is something best left on the ground, where you undoubtedly found it.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket



Characters: Okay, so I've been really bummed that the Baudelaires were extremely underdeveloped in the previous books. One of my biggest problems with their characters is that all of their conflicts come from an external source. We don't get to see them really struggle with certain things or have a large range of emotions, a lot of the time they're either scared, happy, or just content. Also, going along the lines of the fact that they are severely underdeveloped, we don't get to see a range of interests, it's gotten to the point where, when we are reminded of the children's individual talents, I sort of just groan and go, "I get it, Violet's an inventor, Klaus is a researcher, and Sunny likes to bite things!" That all being said about previous installments in this series, this book does slowly, and honestly not that much but I'll take all I can get, develop the kids and we finally get to see a bit of internal conflict with them as, now that they are on the run, and apparently live in a world full of idiotic adults, they make some morally gray decisions to understand what's going on.

World Building: Have I talked about how bland and boring the world building is yet. I mean in the series overall. I liked the sort of timeless or I guess a more apt description is old-timey, not timeless, feel to the world when I first started rereading the series, but it's just sort of gotten boring at this point. I get that this is a series for children, but I've read plenty of "children's" books that don't dumb things down, or resort to the "children are smart, adults are idiots" trope. Actually the more I think about it the more I feel that it would be amazing if the author rewrote the series for an older audience, expanding the stories and adding a sense of authenticity to the plot. He could flesh out the characters, build out the world, and really dive deep into the fascinating lore of the world. Though I guess the Netflix series does a pretty good job of that, so maybe not.

Foreshadowing: So, I never really noticed this in the previous installments, and maybe this installment is just a turning point for the series as a whole, but there's a lot of foreshadowing in this book. Not just for this particular installment, but for most of the rest of the series as a whole. There are little things that, if you're rereading the series like I am, they kind of make you pause and think about certain plot points for the rest of the series that you wouldn't think about before. Certain descriptions, similes, or anecdotes the author provides in this book really caught me by surprise and made me smile in that nostalgic way when I read them/or a guess listened to them since I read the audiobook (which I highly recommend as Tim Curry is a brilliant narrator for these books.)

Ending: This has got to be one of the best endings for the series as more so than ever the formula is shaken up, We see the children take some agency in their story and it leads them to a very interesting shelter, or I guess makeshift shelter. The final climax of the book was rather typical and honestly didn't have a lot of real-world authenticity to it, but again it's a kid's book, I just wish some of it was grounded in reality because if children reading this book tried to recreate something that happens at the end it could lead to some very serious injuries. The ending is a fantastic cliffhanger as the children find themselves in the most dangerous situation yet.


I'm honestly surprised that I'm giving this book as high a rating as I am. I always thought that The Austere Academy was my favorite from this series and I do believe that there are a lot of great things about that book, particularly the setting, but in terms of finally feeling like this series is going somewhere and shaking things up, this might be the best one. Woah!


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