The Slippery Slope is the tenth book in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. It was published in 2003 by HarperCollins.
Genre: Children’s, Mystery
Like handshakes, house pets, or raw carrots, many things are preferable when not slippery. Unfortunately, in this miserable volume, I am afraid that Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire run into more than their fair share of slipperiness during their harrowing journey up—and down—a range of strange and distressing mountains.
In order to spare you any further repulsion, it would be best not to mention any of the unpleasant details of this story, particularly a secret message, a toboggan, a deceitful trap, a swarm of snow gnats, a scheming villain, a troupe of organized youngsters, a covered casserole dish, and a surprising survivor of a terrible fire.
Unfortunately, I have dedicated my life to researching and recording the sad tale of the Baudelaire Orphans. There is no reason for you to dedicate yourself to such things, and you might instead dedicate yourself to letting this slippery book slip from your hands into a nearby trash receptacle, or deep pit.
With all due respect,
Violet opened her mouth to answer, but at that moment another question immediately occupied the minds of the elder Baudelaires. It is a dreadful question, and nearly everyone who has found themselves asking it has ended up wishing that they’d never brought up the subject. My brother asked the question once, and had nightmares about it for weeks. An associate of mine asked the question, and found himself falling through the air before he could hear the answer. It is a question I asked once, a very long time ago and in a very timid voice, and a woman replied by quickly putting a motorcycle helmet on her head and wrapping her body in a red silk cape. The question is, “What in the world is that ominous-looking cloud of tiny, white buzzing objects coming toward us?” and I’m sorry to tell you that the answer is “A swarm of well-organized, ill-tempered insects known as snow gnats, who live in cold mountain areas and enjoy stinging people for no reason whatsoever.
The man with a beard but no hair picked up a handful of snow and threw it onto the weeds, extinguishing the Verdant Flammable Device. “Who are you signaling to, baby?” he asked, in his strange, hoarse voice. “If you’re a spy, we’re going to toss you off this mountain.”
“Goo goo,” Sunny said, which meant something along the lines of “I’m going to pretend I’m a helpless baby, instead of answering your question.”
“For Beatrice—When we met, you were pretty, and I was lonely. Now, I am pretty lonely.
Recommended Age Range: 10+
What I Liked:
References! C. M. Kornbluth, “Godot,” Sumac, “Rosebud,” “Matahari,” “Babganoush.”
For some reason, this book has always been one of my favorites. It’s not as funny as some of the earlier ones, but it answers a lot of questions (and brings up some more…). Plus, Sunny has a great plotline in this one and Sunny is my favorite character, if you couldn’t tell by now.
We finally find out what V.F.D. means in this book! Also, we find out about the mysterious survivor from the Snicket file (remember my Keep in Mind section?)! Now that we know both of these things, it’s time to introduce another McGuffin, the sugar bowl! Now readers can know why Snicket seems to be so fixated with tea sets and sugar bowls! Oh, sugar bowl. I have a lot to say about you in the last three books.
The introduction of the man with a beard, but no hair, and the woman with hair, but no beard, is the first time we’re introduced to the Bad that is Bigger than Count Olaf. Can’t say much about that here since we don’t know enough, but I’ll definitely talk about it more in the next book.
As I said above, I loved Sunny’s part in this book. In fact, I found myself wanting to skip Violet and Klaus’ sections (sorry, Violet and Klaus) and go straight to Sunny. However, Violet and Klaus’ section was important in that the villains versus good guys question came up again: they find themselves wondering if they’re really the good guys after all, since they have to do something that they find particularly distasteful and wrong. There’s some good moral conflict that they need to struggle through.
What I Didn’t Like:
I didn’t like Handler’s insertion of a specific reference that was obviously biased. It was blatantly one-sided and just one more example of the way authors like to throw in their own opinions into books for no reason except to give their opinion (this is the reason why I didn’t like Kristin Cashore’s Bitterblue, although I love Fire) or whatever. It was not necessary; it was intrusive; it was just very poorly done. I don’t want to know what an author believes because they specifically mention it. I want subtlety, at least. Let me think about what it means; don’t just state it like it’s a given fact.
People/Places/Things to Keep in Mind:
–the message to J.S.
–the reptiles, specifically the one that got away
–this is a little one, but the mention of the pole in the Vertical Flame Diversion being taken for a submarine.
–the man with a beard, but no hair and the woman with hair, but no beard, and the aura of menace they exude
There are mushrooms growing on the side of the rock, a reference to The Grim Grotto.
The Slippery Slope is one of my favorites solely for Sunny’s role and her growth as a character. It also answers quite a few questions that have been hanging around for a while, and so is a less frustrating, more satisfying read than other books in the series.
Coming Up Next: The Grim Grotto