I think that’s about all you can say about this book. It wasn’t as disappointing as I though it would be, but it also wasn’t the ending I wanted/needed for a 13 book series investment. Perhaps, Snicket hit it on the head with the final line of the book, which doesn’t spoil anything because there was a 14th chapter.
“Under the circumstances, it is the best for which you can hope.”
I’m not convinced it was the best for which I could’ve hoped for, but I think it’s the most I was going to get. If these books would’ve been difficult to read or any more of a time commitment, I would probably be angry about the ending or even disappointed, but because they were quick reads and mostly easy to understand it didn’t feel like too much of an investment. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS, skip to the Recommendation if you don’t want spoilers.
I have to wonder if this entire book is a sort of Harry Potter in the mind type situation (I’m sure it was done before, but having just rewatched the final HP movie that’s what came to mind first). Did everything that happened in this book actually happen? Or was it all some sort of bad collective dream?
Or maybe the whole thing got a little too “meta” for me and it just all went over my head. The idea that these 13 novels were just part of a larger collective work called A Series of Unfortunate Events and that everyone’s story in this entire series, plus the macro-book were in there was too much for me. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly the pessimist-y pessimist there is, but this took it to a different level even for me.
I get it though, that the world isn’t clean, that we’re not always going to get the answers that we want or even need, but to put it in a children’s book and to then in essence kill everyone off with the exception of a few individuals is heartless. Both this book and The Penultimate Peril leave questions about who is or isn’t alive and who is or isn’t responsible for their deaths.
I thought I was going to have more to say, but frankly, it’s such a let down of an ending (even with all of Snicket’s warnings) there is only so much you can say. I did appreciate the Baudelaire’s returning to society after their brief sojourn on the peaceful island, even if it only created more questions than it answered in the end.
Recommendation: Obviously, if you made it through the first 12 books you should read the 13th, but don’t expect much. I had entirely way too many unanswered questions when I finished. There are some answers scattered throughout the books if you think back on Snicket’s (not the author but the narrator [technically he’s both]) comment/observations. Frankly, I’m just underwhelmed and really just a bit tired of the series. There were definitely moments of humor throughout the series and even moments of intense understanding and beautiful writing, but overall I’m just sort of meh about the entire thing. I won’t be revisiting and I doubt I’ll read any of the additional resources Snicket wrote that are out there.
Opening Line: “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 hundreds of layers all over the kitchen table and thousands of tears in your eyes, sorry that you ever 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.”
Closing Line: “There are some words, of course, that are better left unsaid—but not, I believe, the word uttered by my niece, a word which here means that the story is over. Beatrice.“ (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)
Additional Quotes from The End
“But it is one of the strange truths of life that practically nobody likes to be stared at and that practically nobody can stop themselves from staring…” (Loc. 704)
“But trouble and treachery are rarely as far away as one thinks they are on the clearest of days.” (Loc. 994)
“If you have read this far in the chronicle of the Baudelaire orphans—and I certainly hope you have not—then you know we have reached the thirteenth chapter of the thirteenth volume in this sad history, and so you know the end is near, even though this chapter is so lengthy that you might never reach the end of it. But perhaps you do not yet know what the end really means.” (Loc. 2368)