Drew Graham's Reviews > The Penultimate Peril

The Penultimate Peril by Lemony Snicket
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Sep 13, 11

Read from September 01 to 07, 2011

And here we are at Book the Twelfth. After being picked up at Briny Beach by mysterious volunteer Kit Snicket, the Baudelaires find themselves being flaneurs and concierges at the famous, glamorous and bizarre Hotel Denouement. The hotel is filled with guests, some volunteers, some villains, and it's up to the new concierges to figure out who is who and let V.F.D. know if their last safe place is just that. A lot of familiar faces appear in this penultimate volume, and the Baudelaires have further reason to wonder if their path is leading them to a life of nobility, or a life of unintended villainy.

I remember being SOOO excited when this one came out. I was thinking, this series is winding down, surely there are going to be some answers! I guess I still didn't really understand this Lemony Snicket person, because while this book does address some of the more pressing mysteries of the Baudelaires' tale, it raises as many questions as it (sort of) answers. There's some discussion of the sugar bowl, but no real explanation. There's some talk about the Snickets and their history relative to the Baudelaires, but nothing concrete. But that didn't really bother me this time around, I understand the overall style better now, and I was able to just enjoy it and realize that they just aren't going to catch a break, and they just aren't going to discover any hard facts. Still, there WERE some tantalizing hints and secrets you're able to gather from reading between the lines, which makes this book pretty intriguing. I love the hotel and its organization according to the Dewey Decimal System, and the many secrets that its reflective pool hide. Carmelita and Esmé Squalor are in fine form (oh my word, that lettuce bikini), as is Count Olaf--I love his speeches at the trial. The take on justice being "blind" is pretty amusing, as well as the idea of infiltration of the High Court, but it seems like there are a few stretches regarding the Baudelaires' volunteer/villain identity crisis (I just don't think Sunny had to go to such lengths with her ultimate suggestion in the laundry room). There's a nice mystery involving some curious initials that I actually completely forgot about, which was nice to rediscover. The identical twin (twin?) managers on opposite sides of the schism are kind of interesting, but as time goes by their unfathomable comments get kind of maddening (though the Baudelaires' responses are always amusing), but their secret is quite exciting indeed. I like seeing all the old characters appear, a sort of SoUE reunion here toward the end (except for the unfortunate reappearance of Mr. Poe, which, I'm not ashamed to say, caused me to literally groan in annoyance), but there are some... implications regarding a couple of them that I think have no place in this series, though at least those are subtle and easily explained away. I think it's also a really nice touch how it ends in some ways how it begins, with the Baudelaires, Count Olaf and Justice Strauss.

Book the Twelfth has a lot of charm and gives you a lot to think about regarding these unfortunate orphans. The reunion of old characters gives it a nice sort of curtain call feeling before the grand finale. For some reason these later books are taking their time for me to get through, but I'm still very much enjoying the final volumes in the Baudelaires' tragic and hilarious saga.
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09/01/2011 page 51
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