Nicholas Karpuk's Reviews > The Vile Village

The Vile Village by Lemony Snicket
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Feb 25, 11

Read in February, 2011

If I had to draw a line in the sand with the Snicket books between overly formulaic but funny, and genuinely well put together, I'd put it within the first few chapters of The Vile Village.

There's a few things absent from this read through, most of them positive. He isn't constantly reiterating the three children's skills in a "this is for Violet, this is for Klaus, this is for Sunny" sort of rhythm. There guardian is slightly more relatable, and altogether decent guy who gets severely skittish around authority. And they actually get some answers to the larger mysteries along with a growing integration of Lemony Snicket as a character rather than a pure narrator.

Plus it just flat out reads better. The structure is looser, giving more room for whimsical turns of events.

If there's an over-arching theme to the Unfortunate Events, it's the perils of adulthood. Every book discusses the dismissiveness of adults towards children, but each covers more specific territory. In this case, it's legalism, as the town they're adopted by is run by old people obsessed with maintaining a seemingly self-contradicting body of laws.

Snicket works in defiance of the Nickelodeon model of pro-kid entertainment, where kids are constantly triumphing over adults. Most savvy kids get irritated with this after a while, as they spend most of their childhood getting regularly thwarted by adults. Power fantasies only hold the attention of some people for a short time.

Instead he treats childhood as a kind of tragedy, where foolhardy adults with their various issues often railroad kids into terrible lives. What's secretly positive about this very bleak series is that the only way the children outwit adults is through positive traits like self-reliance, critical analysis, and research. Klaus actually reads the entire rulebook for the town, something none of the elders actually appear to have done.

The Vile Village in particular shows that to outwit the elderly tyrants in your life, you have to be smarter, more clever, and braver. What's impressive is that it makes it sound perfectly achievable.
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