If You Like “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” Then You’ll Like…

I first read Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events when I was in seventh grade. My school library had each and every one of the books (which was a blessing, because so many book series in that library were incomplete). Intro little Sha, heading into the library to check out Book 1 on Monday, then returning Book 1 on Tuesday to take out Book 2, then returning Book 2 on Wednesday to take out Book 3. . . and so on, and so on, until the majestic Book 13.

(My library did allow more than one book at a time, but the rest of my slots were forever filled with research books for class.)

I was IN LOVE with the series. First of all, I was a major Word Nerd. AKA I knew words nooooo one else my age knew. So I vibed hard with Snicket’s asides where he would “explain” what words meant (to quite humourous extent). Second of all, despite being pitched at middle grade, the novels acknowledged a very dark side of humanity. Snicket didn’t outright say, “Hey, life sucks and then you die.” But a lot of his writing pointed out the very hard, very upsetting, very unfair parts of life without leaving you in a sobbing heap at the end (despite him/the narrator saying the books would). In fact, his writing allowed you to see the dark, twisted areas and say, “Okay. Now let me tie up my hair and see how this can be fixed.”

(A word about the Netflix series: if this is all you have seen, then the Netflix series is very true to the books. I still praise the books *more*, because the show makes the mystery element a lot easier to solve–in the books you need to do a lot more sleuthing–but this is one of the truest and best adaptations I’ve seen.)

But once I finished the books, I was left feeling … empty. I needed more Snicket! Of course, Snicket (or rather, Daniel Handler) does have other books. He maintains his wry, oblique humour in Horseradish and The Composer is Dead, and extends the ASoUE story in his prequel series, All the Wrong Questions. However, if you’re looking for something still kind of Snicket, but not qu-i-i-i-t-e-e, then you’ll want The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch. (Click book image for more info.)

The Name of This Book Is Secret (Secret, #1)

Warning: this description has not been authorized by Pseudonymous Bosch. 
As much as he’d love to sing the praises of his book (he is very vain), he wouldn’t want you to hear about his brave 11-year old heroes, Cass and Max-Ernest. Or about how a mysterious box of vials, the Symphony of Smells, sends them on the trail of a magician who has vanished under strange (and stinky) circumstances. And he certainly wouldn’t want you to know about the hair-raising adventures that follow and the nefarious villains they face. You see, not only is the name of this book secret, the story inside is, too. For it concerns a secret. A Big Secret.

I don’t know about you, but when I first read this book summary I was like, Uuuhhhh, is this another Daniel Handler pseudonym? Because yet again, in this book series the author becomes an invested narrator (who doesn’t wish to be invested, or for us the readers to be invested). But no, it’s the pen name of Raphael Simon, a different children’s author who also writes fantastic books about ingenious kids and wonderful secrets. 

The Name of this Book is Secret is the first in a five book series based on the five senses but revolving around Cass and Max-Ernest trying to figure out what happened to this magician and what’s up with this secret. While ASoUE is funny because of its darker humour and spin on words, the Secrets series is funny because, well, first of all its narrator does not want to tell the story but does so after frequently bribing himself with chocolate?

Main character Cassandra is a survivalist: she always believes there’s going to be a disaster, so she preps for hurricanes and floods 24/4. Her counter-part is Max-Ernest, whose parents are divorced but “don’t want their separation to affect their son,” so they still live in the same house, but split it completely and utterly down the middle.

And then you have the Symphony of Smells, a box discovered at the beginning of the book that kicks off all the action and also we learn about synesthesia so it’s all very cool and interesting.

(If this doesn’t sell you, every book in the series has over a 4 star rating on Goodreads.) And before anyone asks, I think Pseudonymous Bosch’s book translates just fine to anyone who enjoys YA.

Have you read either of these books? Will you read any of them now? If you have read them, what are your thoughts? Let’s discuss below!


8 thoughts on “If You Like “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” Then You’ll Like…

  1. “the Secrets series is funny because, well, first of all its narrator does not want to tell the story but does so after frequently bribing himself with chocolate?” Haha that totally sells me! I love it when the narrator has a witty sense of humor, so I’ll check this out! I really did enjoy the nihilistic aspect of Unfortunate Events, so I can already imagine how this is similar. 😉 Terrific post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you on involved narrators! When they jump into the story and make witty little comments, it can make the book so much fun. Almost like you, as a reader, have a reading partner with you on the journey. Let me know your thoughts if you end up reading any of the series!

      Liked by 1 person

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