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"and this was the least pleasant feeling in the world."

I have great amounts of love for YA lit. But a specific kind of it, which is what I'm going to term "fanciful and well-written lit for 10 to 12-year olds."

Part of it is assuredly centered in nostalgia, but the other part is that good books are good books. I might have a different reaction to The Mysterious Benedict Society now than I would have when I was 12 (or at least I hope I do), but it's still a Very Good Book and I thoroughly enjoyed it from my current vantage point.

Someone on twitter was discussing atrocities performed on Gaddafi before he was killed, and it made me think of A Series of Unfortunate Events. For those unfamiliar, it's semi-gothic, extremely funny, and consists of 13 books. The first nine are excellent. The others are okay until we got to the last one, entitled The End. I hate The End. It sucks. If I ever meet Daniel Handler, I'm going to scream at him, despite all the good work he did in the others.

...but that is not related to what happened to Gaddafi. The thing I remembered from Unfortunate Events is that in one of the later books, the Baudelaire siblings are met with a difficult decision. They can use underhanded tactics to capture one of the many villains out to get them, or...not. Every. Other. Children's book I've read would have had no problem with them capturing a villain and using them as collateral or what-have-you to achieve their ends, because obviously the protagonists' motives are purer than the dastardly villains', so we support what helps them win. 

"We're not in a pleasant situation," Violet said, and the eldest Baudelaire was right. It was not pleasant... But the least pleasant part of the situation wasn't the cold dirt, or the freezing winds, or even their own exhaustion as it grew later and the children dug deeper and deeper. The least pleasant part was the idea, shared by the two Baudelaires and their new friend, that they might be doing a villainous thing. The siblings were not sure if digging a deep pit to trap someone, in order to trade prisoners with a villain, was something that their parents would do.... As they looked at the villainous thing they had made, the three volunteers could not help wondering if they were villains, too, and this was the least pleasant feeling in the world.

Utterly fantastic. Don't act like villains, because then we are villains. That section almost even redeems the final book for me (although not quite, so Daniel Handler, you watch yourself if we meet).

I leave you with two other quotes from that book (The Slippery Slope), because they are wonderful.

"'I know that having a good vocabulary doesn't guarantee that I'm a good person,' the boy said. 'But it does mean that I've read a great deal. And in my experience, well-read people are less likely to be evil.'"

“A man of my acquaintance once wrote a poem called 'The Road Less Traveled', describing a journey he took through the woods along a path most travelers never used. The poet found that the road less traveled was peaceful but quite lonely, and he was probably a bit nervous as he went along, because if anything happened on the road less traveled, the other travelers would be on the road more frequently traveled and so couldn't hear him as he cried for help. Sure enough, that poet is dead.” 

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