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186 of 197 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good read
I went back and forth about whether I should get this book to read with my 7 year old second grader. I kept telling myself I should wait till she was older, but found the book at a good price, so I bought it. I worried it would be too depressing and scary for her, but it did not turn out that way at all. The book is written from a narrators point of view, so the...
Published on October 19, 2003 by Jadecat

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40 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a series of unfortunate events - and he's not kidding
I bought this book expecting something darkly whimsical, something like Dahl, or Gorey, or Burton, perhaps. I wasn't entirely impressed. There wasn't enough whimsy for my taste, and I found the travails of the Baudelaire children not amusing but truly *depressing*. One horrible thing after another happens to the children, and it's really not as amusing or as charming...
Published on November 14, 2000 by silo1013


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186 of 197 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good read, October 19, 2003
By 
Jadecat (Lake Orion, MI United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I went back and forth about whether I should get this book to read with my 7 year old second grader. I kept telling myself I should wait till she was older, but found the book at a good price, so I bought it. I worried it would be too depressing and scary for her, but it did not turn out that way at all. The book is written from a narrators point of view, so the personal feelings of the characters are never fully exposed and explored. You know that the three orphans are sad about their parents death, but the book doesn't wallow in their grief and make it painful to read. If you can imagine Vincent Price reading the book, that tends to make it a little more lighthearted. The bad guy of the book, Count Olaf, is an awful brute who is outright cruel to the children at times, but again the book doesn't have the children suffering without end. Instead it makes them more resilient to foil the Counts plans and triumph over him. My daughter was EAGER to read these books. That was the best thing about it all. We have tried classics, Pippi Longstocking, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Charlottes Web, but as great as they are, they lack The Bad Beginnings level of excitement, mystery and wondering what will happen next. I enjoyed the book myself and will continue to read the rest of the series, in hopes they are as entertaining as this one. I can see if you have a very sensitive child, this would not be the book for them until they are older. Some kids my daughters age are scared of Harry Potter movies, so this book would be too much for them. If your youngster isn't living in a sheltered world where everything is wonderful and bad things don't happen, and they can understand the difference between a made up story and a real one, then they just might enjoy this new type of childrens adventure stories.
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77 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Most Unfortunate Family..., May 1, 2000
By A Customer
If you like the part of Harry Potter when he's living under the stairs of the Dursley household, before the happy bit where he gets accepted to Wizard school, then you'll enjoy these books.
The Baudelaire orphans are nice and smart. But boy are they unlucky. The book opens with the Baudelaire parents dying in a fire and the orphans having to find a relative to look after them. Although there is a huge family fortune, they can't get it until Violet, the oldest at 14, turns 18. But this doesn't stop the dastardly (and there isn't really any other word to describe him) Count Olaf, a horrible and distant relative, and his nasty henchmen/women/things from trying to get their hands (or hooks) on it. And as far as Olaf is concerened, the Baudelaires are expendable, a word which here means "not needed after Count Olaf gets his hands on the money".
Just one word of warning--when the author says if you like cheerful books or happy endings, stop reading now, he means it. But if you like miserable scary books with unhappy endings, keep reading! And you'll learn lots of horrible words with depressing or unfortunate meanings as well.
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46 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too delicious!, February 15, 2001
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I came to this series as a result of an interview with the author that I read in Publishers Weekly. Intrigued, I ordered the first three books. I loved them. They are purportedly children's books but the author has a wicked sense of humor, and includes references that only adults would recognize. (For example, two of the three children are named Sunny and Klaus. Gee, that makes me think about some real-life wicked goings-on.)
Aside from everything else, these children actually come alive; they're inventive, clever and resourceful. They also suffer at the hands of their wonderfully conceived evil uncle Count Olaf.
I've passed these books along to a number of children who gobbled them up as avidly as I did--which proves that a good book knows no age barriers. This series is pure pleasure.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book!, January 2, 2000
By A Customer
I'm in 5th grade and I thought the book is great. It felt like I was in the book and I was Baudelaire child. I read the book in one whole day because I couldn't stop. The next day I read the sequel. I recommend this book to all.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully Depressing, April 4, 2000
By A Customer
These books are sure to capture the attention of any reader. They are both funny and well-written, with fast-moving plots and memorable characters. Believe the description, though. If depressing events fill you with dismay and may cause you to lock yourself away for days following your reading of this book, perhaps you'd better abstain. Otherwise, these books belong on bookshelves beside Harry Potter, A Little Princess, Oliver Twist, and the Narnia Chronicles. Of course bad things happen to orphans. That's the purpose of their existence in the world of books. Come on now. Isn't it refreshing to have an author be honest about it for once?
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bad Beginning ( A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1, January 17, 2000
By A Customer
My 5th grade daughter and I looked forward to each evening when together we would enjoy this witty and very different book. Truly a book that must be shared and read out loud for its greatest effect! My daughter especially enjoyed how the author would introduce a more difficult vocabulary word and then explain its meaning in an interesting fashion. Though not a book for young children or those who scare easily, certainly a wonderful read for those who love surprise, irony and humor and not your typical, predictable endings.
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40 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a series of unfortunate events - and he's not kidding, November 14, 2000
I bought this book expecting something darkly whimsical, something like Dahl, or Gorey, or Burton, perhaps. I wasn't entirely impressed. There wasn't enough whimsy for my taste, and I found the travails of the Baudelaire children not amusing but truly *depressing*. One horrible thing after another happens to the children, and it's really not as amusing or as charming as you'd think. As Mr. "Snicket" says, in the opening line of the book, "If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book." And he's not kidding. Another reviewer remarked on the similarity of this book to the part in Harry Potter where he lives under the stairs "before the happy bit". I have to disagree. That was a good kind of melancholy - this is just plain awful. I also found the vocabulary lessons on every other page to be irritating. It was almost cute the first couple of times, but after a while, you just want to bludgeon Mr. "Snicket" to death with a dictionary. I also couldn't figure out if this book was intended for children or for adults. If it was written for children, I might question Mr. Snicket's taste - most of the adults are grotesque pedophilic monsters who constantly leer and drool over the children. Is he writing these books as proscribed therapy as a sex-offender? If it was written for adults, it comes off entirely too condescending and simple. Still, it has a certain.. je ne sais quoi. I would recommend that most people borrow this first book from a friend or the library before deciding to buy the series. However, if you are a truly mean-spirited, black-hearted, lecherous, leering villain, I recommend you run out and buy them all today: this series was made for you!
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Corrupt Reviews!, March 31, 2001
By 
Patrick Smadbeck (Edgartown, MA United States) - See all my reviews
As any person who notices these kind of things, you have to consider that most of these book reviews are written by adults.
Now I forgot. This IS a children's book, right? I happen to be a fourteen years old, and I recieved this book for Christmas (from a book magazine that sold "great" books). Any person I met who read it liked the books (even my english teacher NOTE: TEACHER).
I am an avid reader, reading many of the classics (Grapes of Wrath; Hobbit; The Jungle; To Kill a Mockingbird), and enjoy the fantasy genre. So don't get me wrong by thinking I liked the book because they dumbed it down, or I'm a know-nothing (I happen to be in a special english, and math class).
I found this book to be inventive, with a new style of writing. He kept you interested with the constant mystery, and clueless adults who frusterate you until you have to laugh at them. He keeps you attentive and not bored with a change of writing every few chapters. For example, he with will have little definitions that will obviously not be real, but attached to the storyline, and little humerous tidbits like five pages of "never"'s, or a couple of pages of black. It's a refreshing edition to the many styles of writing that are used way too often, and changed the direction of "oh, the hero has trouble, he goes and meets the bad guy, and defeats him. Happily Ever After!" There is no "Happily Ever After" here, and I find that in itself funny.
If you can't handle the heat, get out of the kitchen! This was a fabulous book, and I recomend them all to anybody! I gave the book what it deserved, and if you don't like it. TOUGH! If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all. Don't try to get people to avoid a book based on your opinion! They should avoid it on their opinion!
I bid you farewell.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fortunate Beginning for Great Reading, March 19, 2001
By A Customer
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I purchased this book for my son (11). He gobbled it down in a day, and proceeded to books 2 and 3 in the next two days. I also read each of these books after he'd finished with them. The rapid series of unfortunate events makes this a real page-turner. I've heard no requests for extra TV time for the past three days. What better way to make reading a habit, vs. a forced exercise?
I don't think these books are NEARLY as frightening as say, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. While they may not be appropriate for children 8 and under, I think children above that age can appreciate this kind of outlandish misfortune for what it is.
Unlike other readers, I appreciated the author's explanations of unfamiliar words and phrases, and wish that more children's books would introduce unfamiliar vocabulary in this way. While this may be distracting for adults, and it's true that children could just as easily look the words up in a dictionary, how many children will actually stop to do so? My son was more likely to ask me the meaning of words after reading this book, vs. "barreling on through."
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for realists with a sense of humor, May 21, 2001
By A Customer
If you are the type of person who blames everyone but yourself for the evils of the world, by all means DON'T read these books. However, if you have a healthy sense of reality and humor (or want to raise children who will!) then read and enjoy these delightful tales.
Lemony Snicket writes for all those kids who know that adults aren't always on their side. His stories are funny, a little creepy and always interesting. The Baudelaire children are the best of what boy and girl heros in books should be and the adults, well, the adults might just be portrayed a little too accurately for some grown-ups to handle. As most children know, adults don't always do what's right, aren't always to be trusted and don't always believe what a child tells them. Reading some of the negative reviews here, some adults would prefer that children not know this. Silly grown-ups, your children already know far more than you understand.
My daughter and I have read book the first and are rapidly demolishing book the second. They are smart books the way Roald Dahl books are smart. The author explains a lot of words or phrases, but not, in my opinion, in a "dumbing down" way. Many of the explainations are useful even for adults who know what the words already mean... for example, the explaination of "literal" vs. "figurative" in book the first.
Enjoy the books and read them along with your kids. You'll be amazed at how much this writing stikes a chord with them!
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