The Hostile Hospital is the eighth book in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. It was published in 2001 by HarperCollins.
Genre: Children’s, Mystery
Before you throw this awful book to the ground and run as far away from it as possible, you should probably know why. This book is the only one which describes every last detail of the Baudelaire children’s miserable stay at Heimlich Hospital, which makes it one of the most dreadful books in the world.
There are many pleasant things to read about, but this book contains none of them. Within its pages are such burdensome details as a suspicious shopkeeper, unnecessary surgery, an intercom system, anesthesia, heart-shaped balloons, and some very startling news about a fire. Clearly you do not want to read about such things.
I have sworn to research this story, and to write it down as best I can, so I should know that this book is something best left on the ground, where you undoubtedly found it.
With all due respect,
“We are Volunteers Fighting Disease,
And we’re cheerful all day long.
If someone said that we were sad,
That person would be wrong.
We visit people who are sick,
And try to make them smile,
Even if their noses bleed,
Or if they cough up bile.
Tra la la, Fiddle dee dee,
Hope you get well soon.
Ho ho ho, hee hee hee,
Have a heart-shaped balloon.”
“Pietrisycamollaviadelrechiotemexity,” Sunny said, which was something she had said only once before. It meant something along the lines of “I must admit I don’t have the faintest idea of what is going on,” and the first time the youngest Baudelaire had said it, she had just been brought home from the hospital where she was born, and was looking at her siblings as they leaned over her crib to greet her.
Just about everything in this world is easier said than done, with the exception of “systematically assisting Sisyphus’s stealthy, cyst-susceptible sister,” which is easier done than said.
“For Beatrice—Summer without you is as cold as winter. Winter without you is even colder.”
Recommended Age Range: 10+
What I Liked:
The Hostile Hospital has always been one of my favorite ASOUE books. I’m not quite sure why; perhaps it’s the departure from Snicket’s previous formula or the way Klaus and Sunny find Violet. In any case, I’ve just always enjoyed reading it.
References! Heimlich Hospital and its patients (Emma Bovary, Jonah Mapple, Clarissa Dalloway, Cynthia Vane, Charley Anderson, Dr. Bernard Rieux, Haruki Marukami and Mikhail Bulgakov).
This book introduces the Snicket file (or the thirteenth page of it, anyway) and even more mystery. It’s all getting quite exciting, although now there are more questions than there are answers. And yes, the Snicket file is yet another McGuffin, but it works much better than the Quagmires. It’s much more mysterious, much more unexpected and even thrilling.
This book also starts the beginning of the Baudelaires doubting themselves and their intentions. It gets even more pronounced in later books, but this is, I believe, the beginning, where the Baudelaires start to wonder if they are any better than Count Olaf because they have had to trick and lie and steal. Also, they disguise themselves for the first time.
Alright, so of course I know who Beatrice is, because I’ve read the books before, but for someone who never has, they’re probably just wondering if she’s even important to the story and why Snicket keeps mentioning her. At this point, they probably want to know who she is. When I first read it, I didn’t know who it was until The Beatrice Letters and The End, but now, re-reading them, I realize that he starts hinting at who she is much earlier. In this book, he does reveal who she is…but in a very Snicket-esque way. If you’ve never read the book before, I wouldn’t worry about trying to find it. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. Veterans, however…have fun picking the book apart! It’s quite enjoyable.
Sunny! How much I love you and your no longer nonsensical sayings! Also, goodbye, Brobdingnagian henchperson! You’re the first of the henchmen to go, and certainly not the last…
What I Didn’t Like:
The whole cranioectomy part is a little hard to swallow, not because of what’s going on, but because of the audience. More of that when we reach The Carnivorous Carnival. And yes…it has to do with adults! Not useless ones this time, though…more like extremely unrealistic ones.
People/Places/Things to Keep in Mind (you should know that there will be spoilers by now):
–the Snicket file (more specifically, the thirteenth page of the Snicket file)
–Snicket’s mention of stealing Esmé’s sugar bowl
–the list of names on the patient list that Klaus uses to find Violet. These are all anagrams, and one of them in particular is very…enlightening. Or is it?
There is a crystal ball and a flyer advertising Madame Lulu, referencing The Carnivorous Carnival.
The Hostile Hospital is a surprise-filled, moral-event-horizon-wondering, wonderful addition to the series. I feel as if I’ve said that about every book, but really the only flaw in the books/series is…well, I’ll get to that later. This book marks the first time the Baudelaires are on their own and so stands out from the books that came before it. It’s also quite funny (and unfortunate, can’t forget that).
Coming Up Next: Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography