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The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 25, 1999
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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
From Publishers Weekly
"If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book." So cautions Snicket, the exceedingly well-mannered narrator of these two witty mock-gothic novels featuring the misadventures of 14-year-old Violet, 12-year-old Klaus and infant Sunny Baudelaire. From the first, things look unfortunate indeed for the trio: a fire destroys their home, killing their parents along with it; the executor of their parents' estate, the obtuse Mr. Poe (with a son, Edgar), ignores whatever the children have to say; and their new guardian, Count Olaf, is determined to get his hands on the Baudelaire fortune. But by using their individual gifts (Violet's for inventing, Klaus's for reading and researching and baby Sunny's for biting) the three enterprising children thwart the Count's planAfor now. The author uses formal, Latinate language and intrusive commentary to hilarious effect, even for readers unfamiliar with the literary conventions he parodies. The peril in which he places the Baudelaires may be frightening (Count Olaf actually follows through on his threats of violence on several occasions), but the author paints the satire with such broad strokes that most readers will view it from a safe distance. Luckily for fans, the woes of the Baudelaires are far from over; readers eager for more misfortune can turn to The Reptile Room, for an even more suspenseful tale. Exquisitely detailed drawings of Gothic gargoyles and mischievous eyes echo the contents of this elegantly designed hardcover. Age 9-up. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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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.
I do have to admit some of the situations may be a little harsh for younger children and seeing as there are 13 books they might find it too long.
The Baudelaires Siblings. Violet, Klaus and Sunny live a happy live with their two parents in the Baudelaire Mansion, but one gloomy day their banker Mr.Poe informs them there has been a terrible fire that has taken their parents life. The Baudelaires now orphans move with their closest relative (in location not family bloodline) Count Olaf a wicked man with greedy intentions, getting the Baudelaire fortune.
Lemony Snickets mysterious ways and beautiful writing show in this book, as we take a plunge in the Baudelaires unfortunate live and the turmoil they go through living with Count Olaf.
The brains of the unfortunate Baudelaire children are incredible and the fact that these books show children using the power they have to save themselves and their loved ones is something very important to me. And seeing a girl like Violet, a girl who is so like the other girls of her age, using her incredible talent for science is just marvelous. And these books never once sugar coat anything (unlike the film).
And to those of you who are wanting to read the books after watching the film, the letter never comes. I'm re-reading these books, and I won't spoil them for you. But nothing is black and white except the print on the pages. Nothing is as simple as we'd like to make it out to be. Very few are wholly evil, and very few are wholly good. Not everyone makes it out alive and unscathed, and you don't always receive closure.
But that is life.
And life will always have a Series of Unfortunate Events.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Tells a good story of orphans and a very bad man!
Very PERFECT book you are going to be reading here!