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The Penultimate Peril (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 12) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 1, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 331 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

10 Second Interview: A Few Words with Daniel Handler

Q: Your Wikipedia (online encyclopedia) entry defines you as author, screenwriter, and accordionist. Is that how you would describe yourself?
A: I find that nothing makes people back away faster at a social gathering than "accordionist." Except perhaps "screenwriter." And, even "author" always makes people nervous, so I usually say "writer."

Q: How long have you been writing?
A: All my life really, since I was able to write all I wanted to do was write. I think largely I ended up becoming a writer because I could think of nothing else that I was good at--at all. As a kid, I always wanted to be a writer, and I had no backup plan whatsoever as an adult.

Q: Are the Baudelaire children ever going to be happy?
A: Well, they are happy on a regular basis, just not for very long. Um, are they ever going to be happy permanently? I don't know any permanently happy people, thank goodness.

Q: Okay, then is the series going to end on a happy note?
A: Well, I always remind readers of the Snicket books that happy is a comparative term, so the end will be happier than some people would think, but less happy than others.

Q: When can fans expect the final book?
A: I believe the thirteenth volume will be released in the fall of 2006, although something terrible could happen to the author at any moment and then the books would not be released at all.

Looking for more from Daniel Handler? Check out his answers to Amazon.com's The Significant Seven.

An Interview with Lemony Snicket

Lemony Snicket has captured the hearts of childen and adults alike with the hilariously gloomy series that began, of course, with The Bad Beginning. Amazon.com had a chance to question the author of this marvelously morbid and delightfully depressing series, and the communication was grim indeed. Read the cumbersome communique and see for yourself.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. "Book the Twelfth," second to last in the fantastically popular A Series of Unfortunate Events, reunites the beleaguered Baudelaire orphans with a host of characters from previous adventures as they gather at Hotel Denouement (with rooms organized according to the Dewey decimal system) to await the delivery of--the sugar bowl. Well, fans will get the drift, despite the fact that this inventive go-round seems more dizzying and stuffed with definitions than usual. But even as the series draws to a close, new questions arise--the most important one being, are the kids valorous volunteers or villains after all? Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: NC1280L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st edition (January 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064410153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064410151
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.3 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (331 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Penultimate Peril is one of the best in ASoUE. It's the next to last book in the series, and everything is starting to come together.

When we last left Violet, Klaus, and Sunny that had met up with Kit Snicket on Briny Beach, and that's exactly where out story picks up. She takes them to a hotel, where in just a few days, there will be a gathering of volunteers at the last safe place. However, we all know that nothing ends in sunshine & happiness for our favorite unfortunate orphans.

The book is very well paced, and a bit darker than some of the others in the series, but just as silly as well. We see lots of familiar faces, and will have you wanting to reread the entire series over just to see if you missed the slighest bit of a clue. We also meet some new characters, and discover some remarkable secrets. We also run into some new questions, and ponder the true meaning of noble. Right & wrong are not always black & white, especially for the Baudelaires. The Penultimate Peril is a very enjoyable read, and is a must buy for fans of ASoUE.

And make sure you have a mirror when you read.
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Format: Hardcover
Book eleven in A Series of Unfortuante Events, THE GRIM GROTTO, didn't live up to my high expectations. Actually, it was one of my least favorite books I had ever read. I prayed to God that the twelth installment wouldn't be a stinker, and thank goodness, it wasn't. Infact, THE PENULTIMATE PERIL is now my number one favorite in Lemony Snicket's thirteen-book series. There was just so much to like about it, but there was one main reason that made me appreciate it over all the others. Every ASOUE book tends to be a little more mature than your average children's book, but this one is a hundred times more intense than each of the others. Like the Baudelaires realize midway through the story, they are no longer children (except for Sunny) proving that the events of their lives are no longer kid stuff. If you thought book six of Harry Potter was intense, wait till you try reading THE PENULTIMATE PERIL...

Right from the first chapter of this brilliantly-written novel, the Baudelaires know that the things they're about to face are like no other. A fellow V.F.D. member has them disguised as hotel conceirges at Hotel Denouement, where they will pretend to be your average "hotel helper" while secretly being on the look-out for any villains that might try to cause chaos to the upcoming V.F.D. meeting. I thought that making the setting a hotel was a great idea, as one of the most interesting places in the world is a hotel. This led up for some hilarious scenes involving some of ASOUE's best characters, although it also led for some extremely depressing scenes that may fill your eyes with tears. After all, there's a reason why Lemony Snicket warns you not to read this book and pick up something much more delightful.
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A Kid's Review on January 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Imagine, a life without parents, you're on the run from treacherous villains, and you have millions of unanswered questions. For instance, "where is this cab taking me, and why does the driver seem to know me so well?"

That was exactly what the Baudelaire orphans (Violet, Klaus and Sunny) were first thinking in the book "A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Penultimate Peril". This is the 12th of 13 installments of this unfortunate series By Lemony Snicket.

Turning out their cab took them to a Hotel, (the Hotel Denouement to be exact) they stepped out of the cab and into adventure and mystery. Their job was to find Frank; a member of a secret Organization called "V.F.D", but had to watch out for Ernest, his evil twin. How you ask? By becoming Hotel workers and sneaking around for clues.

But not all is well in the Hotel. While on one of her errands, Violet discovers Esme Squalor and Count Olaf are in the hotel, (apparently they are still seeking the Baudelaire's fortune) luckily, they don't seem to recognize her. Later she discovers that her siblings found even more of Olaf's assistants in the mysterious hotel!

Lemony Snicket's serious and somewhat sarcastic writing style is perfect for telling the Baudelaire orphans forlorn and mysterious life.

As a recommendation, I invite strong readers who can handle sad endings/ moments of any sort. Those of you who can, This book would be the book for you.
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Format: Hardcover
There aren't many books that leave you feeling your life can never again be the same as before you read them, and if you've read the first eleven books of the series, wonderful though they all are, you probably won't expect Book the Twelfth to be one of them. You'd be wrong.

From the very beginning, the Baudelaires are thrown into an ambiguous world where everyone speaks in enigmas, volunteers have villainous identical brothers, and even the simplest action is likely to be part of a dark and convoluted plot. Unable to tell who is to be trusted and who isn't, they wonder endlessly about whether their actions are helping their friends or their enemies, and end up having to take some big decisions that may or may not have a right answer.

All this is set in the brilliantly imagined Hotel Denouement, and if you know what the word "denouement" means then you would be right in expecting matters to come to a climax here. Finally, many of our niggling questions are answered, but many remain, and the book is filled with a sense of unfathomable mystery.

Without revealing too much, I will say that the Baudelaires end up discovering some very shocking facts about their parents, about the world they live in, and about themselves, and suddenly nothing seems as simple or as clear-cut as we first imagined. The hotel, a backwards place whose reflection in a pond is the *real* Hotel Denouement, could be a metaphor for the world. You won't find it possible to look at life in the same way again.
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