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.
With all due respect,
This has to be one of my favourite childhood book series, apart from Harry Potter. And the first few books in the series are really only a couple of hundred pages, so they’re quick to read and wonderful to reminisce with when you’re an adult and you’re re-reading them.
Lemony Snicket created a brand with the Unfortunate Events books. The hardcover books and cover designs are intriguing and unique, and the frayed edges of the pages would draw in children in a bookstore or a library.
The Bad Beginning introduces a fantastic villain – Count Olaf. He’s vile and mean and Lemony Snicket includes such a great description of him that you can really envision him. And the three Baudelaire siblings are wonderful protagonists. Each of them are different, both in their personality and in their interests/talents.The Baudelaire children are forced to live with Count Olaf after their parents die, and he spends the entir novel concocting a plan to steal their fortune.
Lemony Snicket introduces an interesting writing technique in this book where he talks directly to the reader, and you can experience this first when you read the blurb. He tells the reader that the book is going to be unpleasant, and he momentarily halts the story throughout the book to inform the reader of certain things, for example:
Page 13 “over a dull dinner of boiled chicken, boiled potatoes and blanched – the word ‘blanched’ here means ‘boiled’ – string beans”
Page 18 “Please get out of bed and get dressed,’ he said briskly. The word ‘briskly’ here means ‘quickly, so as to get the Baudelaire children to leave the house”
Although I loved this technique and found it engaging, at times it was a bit much, and I think Lemony Snicket overused it. He could’ve dialled it back a little to fasten the pace of the story.
I recommend this book not only to children but also to adults who want a quick, easy read – something that doesn’t require any thinking on their part. I also recommend this book to adults who want to read something to their child.
My Score: 8/10