by Lemony Snicket
First up we listened to The Hostile Hospital on tape (read by Tim Curry – very very very clever man – if ever you see a tape read by him, grab it!)
It was different to anything we’d read before. Strange, unusual, weird, quirky.
Fairly well-developed, if stereotypical, characters.
Storyline with interesting twists and turns.
Gripping….to the point that longwinded sidetracks, although often amusing, were somewhat frustrating, coz we just wanted to know What Happened Next. Would not omit the sidetracks. They helped build the suspense.
Humour that appeals to an adult audience. The most important job at the hospital is paperwork! That’s just one (and not the best) example that springs to mind. Actually, there were a number of times that the 12 and 13 year olds gave me knowing smiles as little jokes went over the heads of younger listeners!
My favourite aspect of the book was the way he plays with language. And can I think of an example off the top of my head? Not without ruining it. His explanation about why “no news is good news” is a bad philosophy was particularly priceless. And why the children did not *hop* into the car.
So when we reached the end of this book, we were pleased the library had had two on the shelves and we could delve straight into the second. (By the way, we listened to Book the Eighth first, and Book the Fifth second, with no ill effect).
By halfway through The Austere Academy, Snicket’s style was feeling somewhat repetitive. We could anticipate when he was going to say “By which she probably meant…” and other such sayings. What kept our attention with this particular tape was the fact that “Lemony Snicket” himself was reading it and it was most fascinating to hear exactly how the author intended for his work to be read. When we got to the end of the tape we were not busting to rush out and find the whole series, we do not feel compelled to listen to them from beginning to end in chronological order. However, if we come across one in a secondhand bookshop in the back of beyond sometime in the next twelve months, we’ll pick it up and share a chuckle or two.
Having only read two of the books so far, it may be too premature to award any stars, but I suspect it will be five stars for the first book you read and three stars thereafter.