The Hostile Hospital
by Lemony Snicket
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A Series of Unfortunate Events 8: The Hostile Hospital / 9780061757204
I've been reading this series in order since I first gained interest through the tie-in movie "Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events". I love the series for its superb characterization, lovely writing, quirky plotlines, and deeply dark humor, but it's worth noting that the series so far has been extremely formulaic: Mr. Poe drops the children off with a new guardian, things get progressively worse as Count Olaf shows up and starts causing trouble, and then the children barely thwart a cruel plan before being whisked off by Mr. Poe to do it all over again. This eight book in the series really attempts to mix things up a little bit by not starting out with Mr. Poe, and indeed not showcasing a new guardian at all.
In some ways, this installment is one of the first where I've been truly frightened for the plucky Baudelaire orphans, and the first one where they seemed genuinely alone and in danger to me. Maybe it's because of the tension of separation for several chapters -- it's impossible not to be on the edge of your seat when the unstoppable trio is forced to split up and one of them is put in very grave danger. And perhaps also it's because this is the first novel where the whole wide world of surrounding adults really seem genuinely hostile towards the poor orphans instead of simply foolish, apathetic, or generally worthless.
If you've loved the series so far, you'll love the engaging writing and increased creepiness of this one, but if you're getting tired of the basic plot premise then this book isn't going to be a breath of fresh air.
A note about the audiobook edition of this book: this installment features the superb narration of Tim Curry that the early books in the series featured. Curry does an incredible job with the story and it is impossible to not be drawn into his deep, rich narration as he follows the orphans through their dangerous adventures.
~ Ana Mardoll
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