Title: The Wide Window
Author: Lemony Snicket
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events, #3
So, I was trying to spread these out a bit, but apparently I'm in too much pain to do much but read middle grade books. So I don't have another review for you yet. (Hopefully soon, though.)
There aren't a lot of things that will, on its own, take a book down to one star. Usually, it's a combination of things. Well, I'd been putting up with a lot from Lemony Snicket, which has been discussed in previous reviews. But this one really, really pissed me off.
Okay, so in my Harry Potter review, I pointed out that I really hate the trope of how you can tell someone's evil just from the way they look. We get a lot of this in A Series of Unfortunate Events as well: we know Count Olaf and his cronies are evil because they look creepy and evil. Count Olaf has a unibrow and is messy. One of his accomplices has hooks for hands. There are women with powdered faces. Terrifying!
And so I was going whevs, whevs, trying not to think about it. But there was one that had been really bothering me in the back of my mind. Sure, I hate the stereotype that amputees are evil, but even as a person with a disability, it didn't hit me that hard. Maybe I'm even just so used to seeing it, I'm a bit numb now.
But the accomplice to Count Olaf's crimes in this one is someone who is apparently the most unnerving because... people can't tell if they are a man or a woman.
Yup. Gender ambiguity is the most terrifying of all, apparently. Oh, but wait. It's probably not just because of the ambiguity... it's a weight issue. So towards the end of the book, I got to deal with a shitton of really gross degendering (it's so funny to stumble over pronouns because there's just no way to tell gender!) and dehumanizing (unless someone specifically asks, don't call people it, fucking hell) and fatphobia (let's swap between shaming language and euphemistic language!)
Oh, and once again, we have a guardian who wouldn't pass a social services check (she's too afraid to turn on the stove) and adults who are just too stupid to live. There are bits I liked again... I liked the whole letter code, even if it's super tropey. But for the most part, I was far too upset and offended to enjoy it.
So clearly, I should read the next one.