Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review:: The Austere Academy, by Lemony Snicket

Title: The Austere Academy
Author: Lemony Snicket
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events, #5
Format: eBook
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

The Bad Beginning
The Reptile Room
The Wide Window
The Miserable Mill

In some ways, this book was better, but in others, it was exactly the same. They're just so formulaic. I understand that some authors feel like that's important in middle grade/YA, but in my opinion, it's underestimating young readers. Sure, some kids may like it, but why not give them something that challenges them a bit?

Once again, we see the children being sent to a completely inappropriate living situation. As promised by Mr. Poe, they were sent to a boarding school so he could have time to find them a new guardian.

Except this boarding school isn't really much of a boarding school at all—the vice principal (we never meet the non-vice principal) is an awful violinist who thinks he's a genius and forces the students to listen to a six hour performance every night, Violet's teacher just tells boring stories and quizzes them on them, Klaus' teacher just has them measure things and remember the measurements, and the new coach is Count Olaf.

Oh, and because they don't have a preschool, Sunny has to be an administrative assistant to the vice principal.

Whenever anyone does anything wrong, they are horribly punished—they get their silverware taken away or their hands tied behind their back at meals or have to drink without glasses. If they miss a concert, they have to buy the principal a bag of candy and watch him eat it.

Basically, it's completely ridiculous. And it doesn't even follow up on its own ridiculousness. All of the buildings look like tombstones and the school motto is "Memento Mori," but nothing ever comes of that theme. It's like it was just thrown out the window.

What I did like better about this one, though, is that the children finally make some friends. Instead of it just being them against the world, they meet another pair of orphans who lost their family and are basically in the same situation, just without a Count Olaf. I guess it's really nice to have someone believe them and their situation, even if it's not a sympathetic adult.

But even though there's some better stuff going on now, I can't rate this higher than two stars. The premise is just getting sooooooo repetitive. I'd stop reading, but they're short enough and there's "only" 13 of them... I'm not really getting more interested (in fact, I'm getting less interested) but I'd like to finish them off.

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