The End is the thirteenth and final book in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. It was published in 2006 by HarperCollins.
Genre: Children’s, Mystery
You are presumably looking at the back of this book, or the end of The End. The end of The End is the best place to begin The End, because if you read The End from the beginning of the beginning of The End to the end of the end of The End, you will arrive at the end of the end of your rope.
This book is the last in A Series of Unfortunate Events, and even if you braved the previous twelve volumes, you probably can’t stand such unpleasantries as a fearsome storm, a suspicious beverage, a herd of wild sheep, an enormous bird cage, and a truly haunting secret about the Baudelaire parents.
It has been my solemn occupation to complete the history of the Baudelaire orphans, and at last I am finished. You likely have some other occupation, so if I were you I would drop this book at once, so The End does not finish you.
With all due respect,
“As I’m sure you know, there are many words in our mysterious and confusing language that can mean two completely different things. The word “bear,” for instance, can refer to a rather husky mammal found in the woods, as in the sentence “The bear moved quietly toward the camp counselor, who was too busy putting on lipstick to notice,” but it can also refer to how much someone can handle, as in the sentence “The loss of my camp counselor is more than I can bear.” The word “yarn” can refer both to a colorful strand of wool, as in the sentence “His sweater was made of yarn,” and to a long and rambling story, as in the sentence “His yarn about how he lost his sweater almost put me to sleep.” The word “hard” can refer both to something that is difficult and something that is firm to the touch, and unless you come across a sentence like ‘The bears bear hard hard yarn yarns” you are unlikely to be confused.”
“The phrase “in the dark,” as I’m sure you know, can refer not only to one’s shadowy surroundings, but also to the shadowy secrets of which one might be unaware. Every day, the sun goes down over all these secrets, and so everyone is in the dark in one way or another. If you are sunbathing in a park, for instance, but you do not know that a locked cabinet is buried fifty feet beneath your blanket, then you are in the dark even though you are not actually in the dark, whereas if you are on a midnight hike, knowing full well that several ballerinas are following close behind you, then you are not in the dark even if you are in fact in the dark. Of course, it is quite possible to be in the dark in the dark, as well as to be not in the dark not in the dark, but there are so many secrets in the world that it is likely that you are always in the dark about one thing or another, whether you are in the dark in the dark or in the dark not in the dark, although the sun can go down so quickly that you may be in the dark about being in the dark in the dark, only to look around and find yourself no longer in the dark about being in the dark in the dark, but in the dark in the dark nonetheless, not only because of the dark, but because of the ballerinas in the dark, who are not in the dark about the dark, but also not in the dark about the locked cabinet, and you may be in the dark about the ballerinas digging up the locked cabinet in the dark, even though you are no longer in the dark about being in the dark, and so you are in fact in the dark about being in the dark, even though you are not in the dark about being in the dark, and so you my fall into the hole that the ballerinas have dug, which is dark, in the dark, and in the park.”
“Perhaps if we saw what was ahead of us, and glimpsed the crimes, follies, and misfortunes that would befall us alter on, we would all stay in our mother’s wombs, and then there would be nobody in the world but a great number of very fat, very irritated women.”
I cherished, you perished,
The world’s been nightmarished.”
We are like boats passing in the night—
Recommended Age Range: 10+
What I Liked:
References! Ishmael, all the castaways, “Lethe,” Olaf’s poem, “Neiklot,” “Gentreefive,” “Dreyfuss,” “Yomhashoah,” and Kit’s poem. As a further bonus, some crazy person or people wrote down every single reference and allusion in ASOUE that they could find and compiled them all here: Quidditch.com’s Incomplete Guide to Lemony Snicket Allusions. Have fun!
Olaf! What the heck was that, buddy? Well, at least you made it clear that you’re not just a one-dimensional villain. The last two books have proven that, I think. You actually made me feel a little bit sorry for you. And intrigued.
The identity of Beatrice is finally revealed (in the series), and in a pretty good way, I think. It’s not an obvious reveal, but it’s obvious enough that most people will probably understand it as soon as they read it. It’s not spelled out for them, which is good, but it’s also not mind-numbingly difficult or convoluted to figure out.
Snicket’s random asides here are fabulous, maybe the best in the series. “The bears bear hard hard yarn yarns” and the entire “in the dark” passage are just brilliant.
What I Didn’t Like:
“I don’t want to force you, but…” So. Annoying. Ishmael, join the list of Annoying Adults/Adults Who Are Useless!
Wait, what? That’s it? That’s the end of the series? What about the all-important sugar bowl that apparently just contained horseradish (if “vess—” means “Vessel For Disaccharides”)? Why did Snicket steal it from Esmé? Is this the same sugar bowl? Talk about a MacGuffin device!
What happened to the Quagmires? What is the mysterious question mark? Were the colonists saved by Ink? What about all the other mysteries that are left unsolved? I really don’t like endings that leave things unresolved. I really would have liked everything tied up neatly in a box and wrapped with a bow, but maybe that would have gone against the nature of the series.
The End is a suitable end for A Series of Unfortunate Events, but not a suitable end for a series. Many questions are left unanswered, many mysteries are left unsolved, and I feel more frustrated than satisfied. Maybe Handler was trying to say something through the use of this ambiguous ending—like some things do not matter, or some mysteries will be forever unsolved, or whatever—but I feel let down. I tend to not like unresolved endings, though, so perhaps I am just missing the point and The End is a perfect end.
Coming Up Next: The wrap-up!