All the Wrong Questions (ATWQ) is the prequel series of sorts to A Series of Unfortunate Events (ASOUE), both by Lemony Snicket. I read this series in the hopes of uncovering more about V.F.D. and the bigger mystery that was only briefly touched upon in ASOUE, and in that respect, I was kinda disappointed.
This series follows Lemony as a teenager on his apprenticeship for V.F.D. in the town of Stain’d By The Sea. It’s very much a separate, contained story and has little to do with any of the events in ASOUE. Even so, Daniel Handler stretches the plot throughout the four books, only giving us little piece by little piece at a time. I learnt a new phrase in this series – a fragmentary plot. This is where everyone only knows a small piece of the puzzle but nobody knows the whole thing, which of course leads to a lot of confusion. I’ve learnt that this is Daniel Handler’s favorite way of telling a story, except that he has all the pieces and he refuses to give them all to you, even at the end. I found the plot of the series to be a little lacking though. It wasn’t very intriguing to me and although most of it is unraveled in the last book (unlike in ASOUE), by that time I got so bored that I didn’t really care much for the big reveal. I think I was expecting too much of a tie-in to ASOUE and I didn’t expect this to be a self-contained story.
What I did like about the series though was the interesting characters. Lemony’s gang of associates were a fun bunch and Ellington Feint was a surprisingly complex character with so many layers. She keeps you guessing till the end whether she’s a good person or not (and until now, I’m still not sure, although I suppose that’s the point). I was also happy with the cameos of the younger versions of some of our favorite V.F.D. members. The series also had an interesting noir feel to it and I really felt like I was in this mysterious town of Stain’d By The Sea as I was reading. Daniel Handler’s writing is of course top notch as always and I actually preferred his writing in this series compared to ASOUE because it was funnier and somehow less dumbed down? Not that I think the writing in ASOUE is too simple or anything like that but there was a lot more humor in his writing in this series that requires you to pay attention otherwise you’ll miss it. Although I didn’t enjoy this series that much, if Daniel Handler is writing it, it’s automatically at least 3 stars for me. Daniel Handler is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors of all time and I’m interested to read all his other books, even those that don’t take place in the Lemony Snicket universe.
Sidetracking from ATWQ, I’ve recently discovered an awesome tumblr website, The Snicket Sleuth, which has basically every theory and answer you could ever need about V.F.D. and the whole Lemony Snicket universe. Even if his theories are not completely correct, they definitely shed some light on some interesting points and they made me realise just how thoroughly Daniel Handler plans his world and stories. There is so much to discover in the Lemony Snicket universe for anyone patient and intelligent enough to connect the dots and that puts Daniel Handler on, like, J.K. Rowling level! I am most definitely not patient nor intelligent enough to try to connect all the dots myself so I’ve been really enjoying reading all these theories. I’ve also started watching the Netflix adaptation of ASOUE and the first episode already blew my mind with little mentions of deeply buried plot points and an epic plot twist. I’ll do a review of that adaptation once I’m done with it. All I know is, I’m totally obsessed with the Lemony Snicket world all over again and I don’t think I’m getting out anytime soon!
Cheers and happy reading!