I recently began reading A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, after watching the Netflix series—I know, I should have read the series first! My bad! As I write this, I have just finished the first three books of the thirteen-installment series, and I absolutely adore them.
I truly can’t believe I’ve waited this long to give these stories a try!
The writing style is just otherworldly. Breaking the fourth wall is always very hit-or-miss with me. Sometimes it just doesn’t work, but other times it’s perfectly genius. The latter is how I felt in this instance.
The narrator, Lemony Snicket, a character who also happens to be the named author of the books, constantly interjects to inform the reader of something they may not know, in the most hilarious of manners. In the third book, one chapter even starts with a warning not to attempt to recreate any of the characters’ actions in real life, due to concerns expressed by his publishers.
Lemony Snicket’s sense of humor is like no other. I can’t get enough of his unique voice.
The use of repetition is hilarious—in most cases, telling us a character’s thoughts, then having them say almost the exact same words out loud.
The humor even holds true in his naming of various locations. For example, there is the Anxious Clown restaurant, which has thrown me into a fit of laughter more than once. Something about the name, combined with the neon lights and overly dull waiter gets to me.
Which leads me to the characters…
We have the most fantastic Baudelaire siblings as main characters.
Aside from the humor, A Series of Unfortunate Events is really a touching story of siblings taking care of one another under the worst of circumstances, which I can’t help but love.
Violet Baudelaire, the oldest daughter, is who I would consider to be a nearly perfect character. Not only is she smart, strong and innovative, but she’s also polite, kind, and feminine. (And no, this is definitely not one of those instances where I like a character because she reminds me of myself. I could only dream of being as classy as Violet!)
She loves inventing, which is not only a unique trait for a girl in a book, but it also comes in handy in the best of ways. If nothing else, I’ve learned this: an inventor is an absolute necessity in an unrealistic storyline.
Violet’s brother Klaus, the middle child, would be best described as a nerd—there’s a character trait I can relate to! Like Violet, he is incredibly smart and very caring, especially toward his sisters. Arguments between the Baudelaires are infrequent, which might seem unrealistic, but since when are these books supposed to represent real life?
Then comes Sunny, the youngest daughter.
I say this in the gentlest way possible: I am not a fan of small children.
But I was pleasantly surprised to find that Sunny is actually sweet and likable as can be. She is important to the story. She’s actually a contributing character, not just a child that has to be lugged around for plot purposes, like what happens to some poor kids in books. She also isn’t portrayed as being a genius—another pet peeve of mine. Sunny is just a kid—a very peculiar kid, but just a kid—and she’s a fantastic addition to the story.
Did I mention Count Olaf aka the Best Villain Ever?
What an absolutely weird and hilarious character! Of course, I won’t spoil anything for those of you who haven’t read the series yet, but he is everything I could hope for in a middle grade story villain.
His disguises? Fabulous.
His theater troupe? Funny as heck.
His commitment to his goals? An inspiration to us all. Really! If he had only focused all that dedication toward a higher goal, he could have done unimaginably horrible things on such a wide scale. He could have devastated the whole country, the entire world, with his schemes.
The Bad Beginning
When I read book one in A Series of Unfortunate Events, I truly thought it could get no better than that. It’s just perfection. One of those books I can truly, wholeheartedly give five stars.
Whenever an author can make me laugh out loud through their writing alone, it’s an automatic win. But making me cry-laugh repeatedly, while simultaneously giving me a story and characters that I truly care about is something I rarely get to experience.
The Reptile Room
You know what’s rarer than reading one five-star book? Reading two.
And you know what’s even rarer than reading two five star books? Having them come one right after the other, in the same series.
Just when I thought The Bad Beginning must surely be Lemony Snicket’s writing peak, he proved me entirely wrong. Somehow, despite my general aversion to snakes, this snake-centric story drew me in even more. If I could give it five-and-a-half stars, I probably would. Not only did the characters I know and love return, but I got an extra character that I adore. It’s my lucky day!
The Wide Window
Now, don’t be alarmed when you see I went from five, to five-and-a-half, down to four stars. It isn’t what it appears.
Is The Wide Window a great book? Absolutely.
Yet I can’t help comparing it to its predecessors, which happen to be superior in my mind.
My main problem with this story is the additional character. Unlike The Reptile Room, we got a crappy one this time. The only word I can think of to describe her, though I wish I had a more descriptive one, is irritating.
Despite that, I did really truly enjoy the rest of the book. The story was witty and fit right in line with the previous two. The returning characters were still fantastic. The Baudelaires were as lovable as ever. I want to give them all the biggest hug! And I’m sure I’ll love the rest of the series as soon as I get started on the next installment.
What are your thoughts on the series, either the book or Netflix version?