The latest crazes of the day are the Hunger Games Trilogy, the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy, Harry Potter, Twilight, Lord of the Rings, and so on; if there's one thing people love, it's a never-ending series of franchises, whether good, bad, erotic, magical, or else-wise.
One series that started off strong, that kept on going strong, and that ended...divisively, I'll say, is Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events: A great tale of the countless miseries that befall a group of brilliant children, who end up being smarter, more steadfast, and more committed to what they believe is "good" than the hapless adults that try to protect them, and the evil adults who try and burn them up.
The first twelve books, starting with the "Bad Beginning" and rounding off with the "Penultimate Peril", are all well-rounded books with great characters, interesting asides from the narrator i.e. Snicket, great story lines, and an ever-evolving conflict and ever-growing list of heroes and villains.
My main problem, and the problem most have with how many of these franchises resolve themselves, is this: It sets itself up with so many great mysteries that, of course, can only fail to live up to. In other words, the whole conflict of good vs. evil dwindles down to a rather insipid story about a lone island with a faulty way of living for about 300 pages or so, and then it just...ends. What a sad way to end a great series, but thankfully Mr. Snicket is still writing new prequel-ish tales.
The best thing about the final installment of A Series of Unfortunate Events turned out to be what any great author can do: Great passages of lyrical genius, like the one that ends this article on a high note, and from that same novel that ends anticlimactically, and never answers anything concrete-wise about any of the put-upon mysteries of said series.
If you have ever peeled an onion, then you know that the first thin, papery layer reveals another thin, papery layer, and that layer reveals another, and another, and before you know it you have hundreds of layers all over the kitchen table and thousands of tears in your eyes, sorry that you ever started peeling in the first place and wishing that you had left the onion alone to wither away on the shelf of the pantry while you went on with your life, even if that meant never again enjoying the complicated and overwhelming taste of this strange and bitter vegetable.
In this way, the story of the Baudelaire orphans is like an onion, and if you insist on reading each and every thin, papery layer in A Series of Unfortunate Events, your only reward will be 170 chapters of misery in your library and countless tears in your eyes. Even if you have read the first twelve volumes of the Baudelaires' story, it is not too late to stop peeling away the layers, and to put this book back on the shelf to wither away while you read something less complicated and overwhelming. The end of this unhappy chronicle is like its bad beginning, as each misfortune only reveals another, and another, and another, and only those with the stomach for this strange and bitter tale should venture any farther into the Baudelaire onion. I'm sorry to tell you this, but that is how the story goes.