Snicket, L. (2014). "Shouldn't You Be in School?" All the Wrong Questions, #3. NY: Hachette Audio.
Middle Grade / Mystery / Audio book
I gave the story 5/5 Stars, the CD format 3/5 Stars
Young Lemony Snicket has been asked to help track an arsonist in the town of Stain'd-by-the-Sea. But as is often the case, where there is one mystery to solve, there are usually others, and those in Stain'd-by-the-Sea are plentiful. In his role as an apprentice detective (or is he?), Lemony quickly suspects that the evil villain Hangfire is behind more than the fires in town and that the schoolchildren are in danger from more than flames. Secrets and deception abound in this third installment of All the Wrong Questions, by Lemony Snicket.
Oddly enough, I have not read the prior installments in this series, nor have I read any of the Series of Unfortunate Events, for which the All the Wrong Questions series are prequels. Nonetheless, I have heard enough about Lemony Snicket that I dove in, and I wasn't disappointed. Despite not having read the two books before "Shouldn't You Be in School?" I had no problem figuring out the story. Characters are fleshed-out and well-defined, and the plot stands alone, with ties to the prior stories explained enough so that there was no confusion. Foreshadowing is heavy, which entices readers to look for the next installment, and the language and imagery are fantastic. Lines like "I felt my mouth grinning around the spoon," and "Seeing a librarian in handcuffs is like seeing a fish gasping on a roll top desk. I couldn't look at it long," conjure very specific reactions from the listener/reader. Also enjoyable was the repeated, amusing mechanism of the narrator defining words for listeners/readers, always qualifying his definitions with saying the word, followed by "a word, which here means . . ."
Though I give the story my highest rating, truly, I have to give this book two different ratings. As far as the medium, as an audio book on CD, it's painfully slow going, and I got impatient. The narrator's voice and style is really perfect, and had I had the ability to speed-up the delivery (like on a digital audio book), I would have no qualms. I cannot recommend the CD version (go digital if you must listen), but the story is fantastic and I am glad I took the time to get through it.
This book was reviewed for Readers' Favorite, who provided an eBook in exchange for my honest review -- the only kind I give.