Thursday, January 10, 2013

“Who Could That Be at This Hour?” (All the Wrong Questions #1)

“Who Could That Be at This Hour?” (All the Wrong Questions #1)
Lemony Snicket
Little Brown for Young Readers, 2012
$15.99, Hardcover

Genre: Humor, Mystery
Age: 8+
Description: Lemony Snicket wasn’t always the mysterious recorder of the Baudelaire orphans misfortunes. In fact, at one point he was just a 13-year-old boy who was beginning his connections with the mysterious V.F.D. organization. In “Who Could That Be at This Hour?”, Snicket chronicles how he came to be with the V.F.D. Readers are introduced to the young Snicket as he escapes his parents (or are they his parents?) in a tea room to meet the woman with whom he’ll apprentice, a Ms. S. Theodora Markson (what does the S stand for?). They make their way to a seaside town called Stain'd-by-the-Sea, which is now devoid of the ink for which it was famous and has pretty much been deserted by its residents. Their job there is to solve the theft of a mysterious statue of the Bombinating Beast—a statue that supposedly is junk by its supposedly rightful owner but everyone seems to want it.
Opinion: This new series by Snicket is technically a prequel of sorts to A Series of Unfortunate Events. It tells of Snicket, a 13-year-old, and how he come to be with the V.F.D. There are cute blue-toned illustrations throughout the book and it features the same humor that Snicket fans have come to expect and love. The only downside I see is that the final Series book was published in 2006. Are the original readers and fans of ASOUE even going to care about a prequel written six years later? Most of those fans are probably older teens now and don’t even remember. It seems more likely to appeal to someone like me who was already in my late teens when I was reading the series so I remember it more and am excited to see a continuation in any form. I fear that the audience for the new series might no longer exist because they have grown up and that the books (there are four planned) will need to be able to stand on their own as a totally independent story to gain new fans. Also, in order to catch the clues that refer back to ASOUE (references to V.F.D., an appearance by a younger Hector—the man who was obsessed with flying apparatuses, etc.) one either has to be a die-hard fan or have just recently read the original series (once again because of the six-year gap between the series). Living up to its name, this series opener leaves readers will a lot of questions and also the question of “What exactly is the plot of this book?” because the main mystery seems to be Snicket becoming an apprentice to Markson who happens to be ranked the worst member of the V.F.D. as they hunt for the missing Bombinating Beast statue. It will be interesting to see where is goes.

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