Review of THE AUSTERE ACADEMY by LEMONY SNICKET
(fifth in the A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS series)
It’s off to boarding school for the Baudelaire orphans where the horrid vice principal assures them that having a few descriptive words entered into a school computer will ensure Count Olaf stays away from the premises. By now, though, the children are catching on that all adults are incompetent, so best they be as resourceful as possible.
I found this installment more engaging than earlier ones, because it’s where the three siblings meet triplets Duncan and Isadora. Yes, you read two names. Their third sibling passed away in the same fire that claimed their parents, but Duncan and Isadora insist that doesn’t change the fact that they’re triplets, not twins. (There’s really plenty of wisdom buried in the ridiculousness of these books.) The Baudelaires have had no one but each other for four books now and it’s a refreshing change of pace for them to meet others who are not only kind (for they’ve met other kind people), but actually helpful. For once, it seems the Baudelaires’ lives just got a little bit better rather than worse.
These books are much younger than I normally read, at the low end of middle reader, but I still love them nevertheless, primarily for the witty undertones. There’s an understated kind of intelligence to the absurdity. Take the following excerpt as an example: “Assumptions are dangerous things to make, and like all dangerous things to make - bombs for instance, or strawberry shortcake - ” And it seems baby Sunny’s gibberish often isn’t as nonsensical as you might think. Read closer.
I also like how the narrator keeps warning the reader again and again how horrible everything turns out and begging them to read something else. I, for one, intend to ignore him and keep reading.