Book review: ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events(1) The Bad Beginning’ by Lemony Snicket

I have owned this book since I was a little kid, probably around age 9 or 10, and never bothered reading it. So, instead of letting it be a waste of space and a waste on me, I decided to pick it up and read it. It took me almost no time at all to read, being only a small, children’s book, but nonetheless, I have finally read it.

I must confess to being quite disappointed in my younger self, as this book is actually amazing, as far as children’s books go. I have so many good things to say about it, and very few bad things, if any.

Let’s dive right in, shall we.

From beginning to end the book is very true to itself. It promises a dark tale, full of unhappiness, sorrow, cruelty, and evil, and it delivers just that.
The diabolical Count Olaf is truly a villainous wretch. One that, I’m sure, has given many nightmares to young children. With his menacing, haunting uni-brow, his skeleton-like, buggy frame, and the evil of his eyes. All of his eyes.
The tale of the three Baudelaire children is an astonishing and thrilling one, with much more depth than I anticipated.
Having seen Brad Silberling’s (2004) movie adaptation, long before reading the book, I expected a lot more to happen in this first book. The movie just seems entirely wrong now, despite the fantastic casting and directing, and I cannot wait for the Netflix show, so this time they can get it right.
The balance of humour, sadness, hate, love, ingenuity, action, and just about everything else, is done incredibly well. When writing a dark book such as this one, particularly in the case of a children’s book, things like humour and hope have to be well timed and fitting. Lemony Snicket has done a fantastic job.

Both the writing and the story are so very original. I have never read anything like it. I particularly enjoyed the little breaks from the story, where the narrator would explain certain words or phrases.
There are very few wasted sentences in this book, if any at all, and in such a concise and economical piece, Lemony Snicket has managed to include great detail and paint vivid pictures for our minds, as well as creating these fascinating stand-out characters. He also uses every aspect of the book to further the promise of a dark and unhappy story, being very specific in his choice of words, settings, surprises, and so on.
He also not only uses the basis of his story to relate to his readers, meaning the dark, truthful world, but he also uses his narrator. Whilst telling the story, the narrator also speaks to us – asking us questions, telling us about himself, etc. Everyone loves something they can relate to, or something in which they can find parts of themselves or their lives.

This is usually the part where I would talk about the bad sides of the book, but in truth, there are none that I can think of. It may have been a little over the top, perhaps, but exaggeration is the foundation of so many stories, particularly children’s stories.


I recommend every parent giving this to their child/children to read.

4.1/5.0

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4 thoughts on “Book review: ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events(1) The Bad Beginning’ by Lemony Snicket

  1. amortalreader1

    Great review Liam, does the film cover more than the first book do you think then if you expected more to happen in the first book after seeing the film? I’ve seen the film and that felt like it was filled with tons of different moments of the Count’s attempts to kill his nieces and nephew. I haven’t read the books so not sure if its different or more spread out, i’m excited for the Netflix show I think Neil Patrick Harris is going to kill it although Jim Carrey was amazing too.

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    1. Josh Hart Post author

      I don’t know who this Liam is, mine name is Josh 😉 But, thank you, none the less.
      Yes, as far as I’m aware, the movie covers a large number of the books.
      I cannot wait for Neil’s portrayal of Count Olaf. He’s one of my favourite actors, and I think he’ll really suit the role.

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      1. amortalreader1

        Oh god i’m sorry! Liam is my cousin, this is what happens when you’re trying to listen to your mum tell a story and catch up on blog posts at the same time! I never even realised, sorry Josh haha!
        Yes definitely, I think Neil will throw himself entirely into the role and do it justice! I’ve not looked up when that is due out is it later this year or 2017?

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      2. Josh Hart Post author

        Hahha, it’s fine. 🙂
        I’m not actually sure. But, Neil posted a photo on Instagram, not too long ago, of him dressed as the Count, which I’m guessing means they’re still filming or are about to start. So, it’s probably out in 2017.

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