Monday, 6 April 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The End, Chapter 1

If you're visiting in search of today's A to Z Challenge, that went live this morning so click here to read it.

Hope that you've had a good Easter weekend. I've had a busy one! But not so busy that I've not had time for reading. And starting today we're onto the final book in A Series of Unfortunate Events. After this we'll be moving on to Twilight!

At the end of the last book we watched as the Baudelaires unexpectedly joined forces and sailed off into the distance together. Now we're wondering whether the Baudelaires are good guys or bad guys and just what's going to happen to them next!

What Happens?

Snicket recap events leading up the the Baudelaires finding themselves sharing a boat with Count Olaf. Olaf is bossing the children around and generally being himself. The Baudelaires try to think of a way to get rid of Olaf, but the only option occurring to them is chucking him overboard, and before they can make a move, he returns to them with news that there's something on the horizon and it's getting closer.

Thoughts as I read:

As always with a new book we've got a new dedication to kick things off:

For Beatrice - 
I cherished, you perished.
The world's been nightmarished.

It's not one of my favourite dedications in this series but it's pretty much in keeping with the tone of the book.

And we've got another full page picture again as well. This one shows Count Olaf leaning over the back of the boat, updating the name of the boat from Carmelita to Count Olaf. The three Baudelaire children can be seen huddled at the other end of the boat, watching their evil guardian work. We can also see the rigging hanging down from the mast and there's a vaguely exotic looking bird perched on the rope. My Mum sent me a picture she took of a bird called a Hoopoe and aside from missing it the stripes, it could almost be one. Perhaps they're heading to Europe?

If you have ever peeled an onion, then you know that the first thin, papery layer reveals another thin, papery layer, and that layer reveals another, and another, and before you know it you have thousands of layers all over the kitchen table and thousands of tears in your eyes, sorry that you started peeling in the first place and wishing that you had left the onion alone to wither away on the shelf of the pantry while you went on with your life, even if that meant never again enjoying the complicated and overwhelming taste of this strange and bitter vegetable.

This opening paragraph has given me a flashback to my cousin's wedding when I helped her prepare the buffet and we spent around an hour cutting up the strongest smelling onions ever, with tears rolling down our cheeks and our noses running like crazy. Good times.

Obviously Snicket isn't trying to make me relive fun family times, he's wanting us to understand that the Baudelaire children's lives are like those onions. There are lots of layers to them and they totally make you cry a lot. After the customary pleas to put down the book and find something more worthwhile to do with our lives we get to move on to the actual story.

Because we're starting a new book, and some bright spark has probably decided to start reading the series with book thirteen rather than going right back to book one, we need to be reminded who everyone is. In case you've forgotten: Violet invents, Klaus reads and remembers stuff, and Sunny bites things and cooks. We also get a brief example of Sunny-speak 'Soubise!' (which is a type of onion sauce) meaning 'Dinner is served'.

Then we get a recap of events which led them to this point. Hotel Denouement. Fire. Boat on roof. Sailing away with Olaf. You know the score. We also get an over view of Olaf as well. You know the guy. He's been after the Baudelaire fortune for a while and likes setting fire to things.

He's clearly been spending the journey celebrating his triumph over the Baudelaires, the Hotel Denouement and V.F.D. He also thinks he's got the Baudelaire fortune at last, to which Sunny replies 'Beans' meaning 'Count Olaf is spouting pure nonsense'. She also actually means beans because that's the only food they seem to have on board.

"I think the first thing I'll buy for myself is a shiny new car!" Count Olaf said. "Something with a powerful engine, so I can drive faster than the legal limit, and an extra-thick bumper, so I can ram into people without getting all scratched up! I'll name the car Count Olaf, after myself, and whenever people hear the squeal of brakes they'll say, 'Here comes Count Olaf!' Orphans, head for the nearest luxury car dealership!"

This made me smile because as I was reading it we were in the process of trying to buy a new car. It seemed like the universe was just giving us little signs in its favour.

Olaf's suggestion that they make for a car dealership is laughable because they're still all at sea. The children are the ones rowing, while Olaf sits back and gives orders. The children protest about being called his henchmen, because even though they've taken up with him, it doesn't mean that they're working for him.

Olaf, proving that he's a complete plank, threatens to crack open the helmet containing the Medusoid Mycelium. Obviously doing this would not only kill the Baudelaires but also himself. Sunny points this out by saying 'Equivalent flotilla' meaning that they're all in the same boat. This is not quite what Olaf wants to hear so he sulks off to the other end of the boat in order to change the nameplate.

Meanwhile the children are still trying to work out what they should do about their predicament. There's no hope of getting anything else to eat. Sunny suggests diving, but neither of her siblings are enthusiastic about that prospect. Klaus doesn't have anything particularly useful in his commonplace book and while Violet might be able to make a compass, they still don't actually know what they're aiming for.

There's also the problem of rejoining the volunteers, since they've taken up with their biggest enemy now. Sunny's getting a little bit sinister in her old age though. She pipes up with 'Unless... Push Olaf overboard.' Sunny is clearly a girl after my own heart because that's sort of what I'd be thinking. As I've mentioned numerous times through these reviews. I am a very bad person!

To their credit the children do actually consider this as an option. They also weight it up against how other people might act in their position, culminating with WWTBPD? (What Would The Baudelaire Parents Do?) In the past they might have imagined their parents to be noble people, but they've since learned that their parents were involved in a plot to do with poison darts, which happens to be the way that Olaf's parents died. So perhaps Mr and Mrs Baudelaire weren't as innocent as they previously appeared.

Some believe that everyone is born with a moral compass already inside them, like an appendix, or a fear of worms.

The Baudelaires are beginning to question if perhaps their moral compass is getting a bit wonky because the prospect of pushing Olaf into the sea is looking rather favourable.

Before they get a chance to make their move, Olaf announces he's a genius and indicates the sign at the back of the boat which now reads 'Count Olaf'. We establish that the reason why he believes he's a genius is that he's spotted a storm cloud behind them, heralding rain and therefore fresh water.

It also heralds bad news because it's unlikely the boat will withstand such a storm. But there's nothing that they can do to escape, so their only choice is to wait it out and watch it overtake their little boat.

I have a feeling this is going to be quite a stormy end to the Baudelaires' tales.

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