Book Review: Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (Book 1)
Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (Book 1)

Title: The Series of Unfortunate Events (Yes All the Books!)

Author: Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), Brett Helquist (Illustrator)

Genre: Fiction, Childrens, Young Adult, Fantasy, Classics, Mystery, Adventure, Humor

Publisher: Scholastic Inc

Published: September 30, 1999 (For Book 1)

Page Amount: 176 pages (For Book 1)

Blurb From Goodreads: Dear Reader,

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,

Lemony Snicket

Why Read: What a question. Why did I choose to reread all 13 Series of Unfortunate Events as 22-year-old? I have to admit, I was not planning on doing it. Luckily, my friend Rebecca became slightly obsessed with them last spring and would not stop talking about them – going on about how they were actually quite funny for adults and children alike. So I was uncertain, but after the first book… I almost had to keep going.

Review: Where do I start? To run these thirteen books through an admittedly short book review seems a bit unfair, but I really don’t want to write thirteen separate book reviews for each and every book in the series – no matter how short or how long. So I’ll try to summarize it all as succinctly as I can… and not miss anything.

Firstly, Rebecca was right. These books are absolutely hilarious as an adult to read. I almost died of laughter at multiple points during the books; even though I know they’re for children. One of my favorite parts was even in the first book where Mr. Poe’s children are named Edgar and Allan, but they were really very dreary so the children don’t like them all that much. What puns! It’s a little geeky, but it’s incredible.

The characters of Violet, Klaus and Sunny are almost impossible to describe in one word or sentence, or anything less than thirteen books. It would be too simplistic to say that they are adventurous and remind me of Narnia and of Harry Potter (even though they do). They are unique in that that each has a ‘superpower’ of sorts and they each use their powers (of inventing, logic and biting) in each book to great effect. Their development is also unique in the way that I really appreciated. While Violet and Klaus do grow and change, Sunny has the most drastic growth (mostly because she was a baby). And I’m so glad that Lemony Snicket did that- because otherwise it would have felt like cheating to read a book where each child developed at the same rate, regardless of the starting age.

The Carnivorous Carnival and books onward (but particularly the Carnival) are my favorites because it’s when as the reader – the books move beyond the classic “We’ve moved, it’s good, no it’s terrible, Count Olaf, things are worse, we use our skills to survive, Count Olaf gets away, we move again” formula. We actually see Violet, Klaus, and Sunny questioning what they are turning into. What is evil and can you really so easily distinguish between what are good and bad actions if the goal is ultimately good or to simply survive? I do not have enough good things to say about that particular book.

The progression of books was also something I appreciated in the Series of Unfortunate Events. It seemed at first that there would be too many, but as each book would finish and I would move onto the next one – I found myself liking the episodic style format of the books more and more. Each book had just enough content to settle my longing for more information without being too simplistic or simply too much background. It was almost like reading a television series where I got little bits and pieces of the larger picture each time I finished a book. Basically amazing planning, Lemony Snicket – I applaud you.

And lastly (I am sorry this is so long, I cannot control my feelings) I want to say something about how the books are connected to the real world. The whole idea of Lemony Snicket being a character himself, and the letters to the editors at the beginning of each book was GENIUS and totally incredible. I do not have enough good things to say about the warnings posed to us as the reader – seriously, how fantastic.

Ultimate Verdict – it’s really so good. If you can control your patience and read through all thirteen books, and you are willing to deal with some YA in your life (which you should have anyways) – please read these books again. They are absolutely fantastic and everyone should be reading them.

Happy Almost Christmas! (ONE DAY MORE!)

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Heather says:

    I have the first three books (in one volume) to read and I’m pretty excited for it. I’ve had it sitting around for months but I’ll definitely be getting to it in the first half of the year. I’m particularly looking forward to Jude Law narrating in my head as I read!

    1. Gabriella says:

      Ahh it’s so great! You will love it 🙂

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