A Series of Unfortunate Events · Children · Lemony Snicket

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1) by Lemony Snicket

Synopsis

I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing (goodreads.com).


Review

snicket 1Plot

I have wanted to start reading this series for awhile even though it is more mystery/adventure rather than fantasy. I have heard from plenty of people how much they have enjoyed it and after enjoying it myself I thought it would be great to share it here because someone is always looking for another great book to read!

This book tells the unhappy story of three children who are extremely unlucky and it begins with the death of the children’s parents. What a way to start off a children’s book! 😦 Now orphaned, they are taken under the care of, Count Olaf, a distant relative whom the children find to be very unpleasant, dirty, and cruel. He is also after the children’s fortune left to them by their parents and he will do almost anything to acquire it. The children have to figure out how to stop him.

Many cruel things happen to the children while under the care of Count Olaf including one of them getting slapped in the face, and an infant tied up in a cage and suspended over a tower. Not to mention the blackmail and other mistreatment of the children (lack of quality food, proper clothing, and horrid living conditions). I thought that this was a bit too dark for a children’s book, but at least their was little detail relating to many of these occurrences. However, the reader is warned on several occasions that this book is rather unhappy and may not be for the feint of heart. I just thought I should mention for the benefit of parents that there is some pretty unpleasant stuff in this book so it may be something that you should read together.

The pacing of the story was perfect! It was always interesting, never too slow nor too fast, and always had the perfect amount of detail (for a children’s book). It never felt like the story was being rushed either, especially towards the end.

I also thought the length of the book was decent and I did enjoy the ending. This book can easily stand alone, but also sets us up for another book and another interesting and probably unhappy adventure.

Characters

I absolutely adored the characters in this book. For a children’s story I was extremely surprised how well developed and unique each of them were. It would be fairly easy for a child to relate to at least one of the children in the story.

The Baudelaire children are the main focus of the story of course. There is Violet who is the eldest at 14 years old and she loves inventing and building devices, which I thought was intriguing. Klaus is the middle child and only boy and at 12 years old he has already read hundreds of books. Although all the children like to read, Klaus is the more avid reader. He is also intelligent, which probably has a lot to do with all the reading he does. There is also Sunny who is the youngest and still just an infant. With a few nice teeth she really enjoys biting objects and even people.

Count Olaf is a demanding, short-tempered, bad-smelling, dirty, and all-around horrible person. He isn’t someone you would want to hang out with. And on the other end we have Justice Strauss who is a judge on the high court. She is clean, tidy, very organized, and loves collecting books. Her library is huge!

I enjoyed how easy it was to get to know each of the characters, especially the Baudelaire children, and how I was easily able to distinguish between them. There have been several books I have read where all the characters are so similar and uninteresting that I almost can’t read the book.

The one thing that bothered me is that the villain, Count Olaf, seems to be completely evil. I think it would be more interesting if there were some gray areas concerning his personality. However, I don’t expect the characters to be this complicated since this is just a children’s book.

Writing

I absolutely adored the writing in the book! I enjoyed how it was written as Snickett being the narrator and how even though the voice is a bit melancholy there are still plenty of humors occurrences, which may be more for the adult than child readers. It flows very well and is easy to follow and I like how the author doesn’t dumb down the vocabulary just because the target audience is so young. There are plenty of difficult words throughout the book and I thought it was interesting how the word was explained right after in such a way that it didn’t disrupt the flow of the story at all. The words literally and figuratively were also explained at one point in the book, which I was glad for because some adults don’t even use these words correctly. I also liked how the author took a bit of time to explain some more grown-up issues so the children could understand things like how grief and loss affect everyone differently and some people may never recover.

Overall Thoughts

Despite it seeming a little dark for some children I thoroughly enjoyed the novel. I believe this to be a great book for children to read to develop their vocabulary or a book for the entire family to enjoy and read together. I believe it would be most appropriate for children 8 and older unless read to by a parent, but some of the content may be disturbing to some children.

My rating: 4/5 stars!


View this book on Amazon and Goodreads!

My other reviews in this series

The Reptile Room

The Wide Window

The Miserable Mill

The Austere Academy

The Ersatz Elevator

The Vile Village

The Hostile Hospital

The Carnivorous Carnival

The Slippery Slope

The Grim Grotto

The Penultimate Peril

The End

Check out these other reviews from fellow bloggers!

A review by Poppy’s Best of Books

A review by Cat’s Shelf

A review by 52 Letters of the Alphabet

A review by Books for Youth

*photo provided by goodreads.com

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