Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events #1
Published: September, 1999
Genre: fiction, fantasy / Middle Grade
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,
Here’s what I knew about this books before actually reading them: they area series of
unfortunate events 13 middle grade books and there’s an unibrow man somehwere in the story. Oh, there was a movie adaptation starring Jim Carrey and now Netflix has done one with Neil Patrick Harris as the unibrow dude.
And with that information I started reading the book. I didn’t read the synopsis, I didn’t watch the movie, I didn’t read any reviews. But if I did, with the exception of the movie probably, that would have not influenced my opinion at all.
The synopsis is a great example of how the story is told but also about its tone. Lemony Snicket, the narrator of the books (and pen name of the author, Daniel Handler) feels the need to recount the ventures of the Baudelaire sublings, for reasons that we still do not know because Snicket himself is a part of the narrative, a character within the story, someone who the people we’re reading about. His involvement is still a mystery, and we do not know much about him, but I’m very excited about the little clues we’re already getting.
From the very beginning we’re warned that this is not a happy book, and the author, Lemony, talks to the reader, going as far as instructing them to put down the book if they do not wish to read about these three unlucky children. He even does a little overview of what is coming. These interactions, along with him explaining the meaning of some words, was an excellent touch. This is, after all, a middle grade book, and we all know that you only need to say that you cannot do something for a child to want to do something. And, as the description of words, I thought it was both educational and appreciative. Klaus, the middle kid, loves reading, and he himself reminded the adults (who were also trying to come up with synonims for words they thought the siblings were too young to understand) that he may be a child, but he was no fool. I also liked this part because sometimes I was the one who needed the description.
One of the things I disliked about the book was how little we got to actually know the three orphans, Violet, Klaus and Sunny. For a book that focuses on their adventures, we surely do not know them well enough but, yet again, this book centers around their misfortune, not them as characters. Also, the book is too short to have any more depth. Having read this first installment, I do not expect the author to do this, as he is always pointing out how his role is that of narrate their story.
The names in this book are awesome and so spot-on, like tha names of roads, cities and buildings. And I don’t know if it was a reference or not but I loved that Mr. Poe’s children were called Edgar and Albert. Talking about Mr. Poe, however, I thought he was so useless. Justice Strauss also was quite so, but at least she made the siblings feel better and gave them access to her library. Mr. Poe did not seem to care much about them, he didn’t believe them when they needed something or care to even see how Count Olaf was before dropping them on his house.
Which brings me to Count Olaf, a character I so enjoyed. I don’t like him as a person, obviously, but as a character, he is a lot of fun (to read about). He is trully bad, and we see him act that way. He is also intriguing because even though we spend a lot of time in his house and with him, we still do not know him that much. What is it with tha eye obsession? I want to know!
As I said, I wish we got to know th Baudelaire children more; after all, they are the main characters. I liked them and I know they are children but after being told so many times how clever they were, they are also quite fool and trusting. The trusting thing I get, because they want to believe the best of people and have to obey their elders, but I got mad sometimes because they could thing of clever and awesome inventions yet failed to see what was in front of them. I repeat:I know they are children, but it annoyed me at times. Another problem I had with them was how everybody kept expecting Sunny to “act” like a kid when she is an infant! Let her be! But they’re a nice bunch and I loved how they cared and do anything for each other.
The ending was predictable and a bit disappointing, but I still enjoyed the book a lot. I was in for the crazy adventures, not for a life changing story. The book was funny, entertaining and so easy to read. I buddy read this with Tanya @ elemenopew on twitter and we are currently reading book 2, The Reptile Room.
Have you read The Bag Beginning? Do you agree with me? What’s your favourite thing about these books? Have you watched any of the adaptations?