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The Bad Beginning: Or, Orphans! (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1) Paperback – Unabridged, May 8, 2007
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Make no mistake. The Bad Beginning begins badly for the three Baudelaire children, and then gets worse. Their misfortunes begin one gray day on Briny Beach when Mr. Poe tells them that their parents perished in a fire that destroyed their whole house. "It is useless for me to describe to you how terrible Violet, Klaus, and even Sunny felt in the time that followed," laments the personable (occasionally pedantic) narrator, who tells the story as if his readers are gathered around an armchair on pillows. But of course what follows is dreadful. The children thought it was bad when the well-meaning Poes bought them grotesque-colored clothing that itched. But when they are ushered to the dilapidated doorstep of the miserable, thin, unshaven, shiny-eyed, money-grubbing Count Olaf, they know that they--and their family fortune--are in real trouble. Still, they could never have anticipated how much trouble. While it's true that the events that unfold in Lemony Snicket's novels are bleak, and things never turn out as you'd hope, these delightful, funny, linguistically playful books are reminiscent of Roald Dahl (remember James and the Giant Peach and his horrid spinster aunts), Charles Dickens (the orphaned Pip in Great Expectations without the mysterious benefactor), and Edward Gorey (The Gashlycrumb Tinies). There is no question that young readers will want to read the continuing unlucky adventures of the Baudelaire children in The Reptile Room and The Wide Window. (Ages 9 and older) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
From Publishers Weekly
British actor Tim Curry, whose reputation for playing dastardly villain types precedes him, is terrific in this adaptation of the intentionally over-the-top, slightly scary tale of the Baudelaire orphans. As narrator/author Snicket, Curry relates the sad saga with pity and enlightenment sparked by dashes of humor. When the Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus and baby Sunny, learn that their parents have perished in a fire at the family mansion, the children's rocky course is set for misery and misadventure (enough to fill the projected 13 volumes of this clever book series). The executor of the Baudelaire parents' will and keeper of the family fortune, Mr. Poe, arranges for the orphans to live with a guardian, a creepy distant relative named Count Olaf. Nasty in more ways than one, Count Olaf mistreats the children, leading them to quickly discover that he only wants their money. After they unravel one of the count's more awful schemes, the children are eventually delivered from the situation, leading neatly into a sequel. Curry plays Olaf with an appropriately spooky whispering hiss and deserves extra kudos for his convincing portrayal of Poe's racking, sometimes phlegmy cough. As a bonus, the tape contains a hilarious interview between historian, critic and author Leonard S. Marcus and Daniel Handler (suspected to be the mysterious Lemony Snicket himself). An entertaining song called "Scream and Run Away," about Count Olaf, fittingly closes the proceedings. Ages 9-up.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I knew about these books years ago, but I felt at the time I'd be too old for them. I knew about the movie based on them and, again, felt a little too old from what I saw in the trailers. Netflix made a series about it, got some good reviews, and I got curious. After finishing the first season (which is all there is as of the writing of this review), I'm actually considering getting a tattoo. I've read up, and knowing that the author of the books also did the screenplay for the Netflix series....this might not be the most wholly honest review in the world since I haven't read the entire book, but I do have my bit to say after seeing the series based on the same book(s) that had its screenplay written by the same author.
I've read the first chapter and skimmed the rest (which cements that last paragraph), and I am kicking myself for not reading this earlier. These books were literally published at a time in my life that I would've appreciated them the most. Here are lessons that I sorely needed at the time, and I know practically every teen needs to know these things: (1) What makes you unique doesn't make you weird, it makes you useful, (2) Adults don't know everything, no matter how much they say they do, (3) Manipulative and abusive personalities should be avoided at all costs, as should their "flying monkeys," so to speak (4) "Clueless" adults may just be naive, even willfully so, but they can be very good people at heart and brought back to your reality with enough perseverance.
These amazing messages are delivered in a melancholy way, but I would argue that many tweens and early teens feel melancholy themselves. I know I did. The unfortunate events in this book are so over the top that you can't help tie them to real events in your own life at times. I've always rolled my eyes at books aimed at this age demographic, yet here I am at almost 30, and chomping at the bit to tear my way through the series. I'm not going to lie....I'm expecting to learn another life lesson along the way that I somehow skipped over after all these years.
The Bad Beginning
by. Lemony Snicket
Rating: ***** (5 stars)
Book Length: 188 pages
Genre: Children, Children's Chapter, Middle School
It has been a while since I last read this book and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed returning to its pages. The most unique, intriguing, and frustrating aspect of the book is that the main character of the story could be argued to be the narrator. Everything is told through the voice of Lemony Snicket, which is actually the narrator and not the author's actual name. The style is not a typical style for most children's books and it is pulled off with success.
The writing style is amazing. You are pulled into the story, engage with all the characters, and before you know you have finished the tale. I almost went and immediately bought the next book. The only thing that stopped me was the huge pile of books I currently have to finish. It truly is no wonder that this series has obtained such success.
There is one aspect of the writing style that I found quite annoying. The narrator continually defined the words that he and the other characters were using. As the story progressed the other characters also begin defining the words that they were using. It was annoying because I am an adult reader who was well aware of what all these words meant. Yet, while I was quite engaged by the story the book was not written for me. It was written for middle school readers who are still increasing their vocabulary. The first time I encountered Snicket's unique way of defining words in a story I knew what he was doing. While I, as an adult reader, was slightly annoyed I was also kind of awed by his genius. He has this book that he doesn't want to dumb down for his readers, yet he also doesn't want to loose their interest as they encounter words they may not be familiar with. To decrease the frustration of reading by including the definitions into the quirky flow that already existed in the novel is nothing short of genius.
As reviewed on The Book Recluse Review.