Saturday, 14 December 2013

The Bad Beginning

A series of unfortunate events
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Book the First
The Bad Beginning
Lemony Snicket
" There is nothing to be found in the pages of A Series of Unfortunate Events but misery and despair. You still have time to choose another international best-seller to read. But if you must know what unpleasantries befall the charming and clever Baudelaire children read on..."

   I missed out on the Series of Unfortunate Events when I was a kid, when I first became aware of the series I think I was a little too old for it but over the years I’ve heard nothing but good things about the series and, as I like children’s books with a dark tone, I decided I’d pick up the first book in the series and give it a go.

   I really enjoyed this book, I must admit, I didn’t love it, but that’s possibly due to it being the first book in the series and first chapters in long series of books tend to be the weaker entries as they have to deal with all of the setup, exposition and character introductions, later books can do away with all of this and focus on the main story.
   The book centres on three young children. Violet, Klaus and Sunny who find themselves orphaned at the beginning of the book after a fire burns down their home. They are then taken by their guardian, Mr. Poe to live with a distant relative Count Olaf, who is to be their new guardian.
   Very quickly however, the children realise that, rather than having their best interests at heart, Olaf is only interested in securing the large fortune that Violet is set to inherit from her parents. 

The villainous count Olaf
   I loved the tone of this book, the whole thing has a sense of melancholy as if the whole world of the book has been sapped of colour. The actual design of the book helps with this too, the brilliant illustrations by Brett Helquist give a bleak Victorian feel to the book which only serves to further the gleefully gloomy atmosphere of the book.
   Despite the gloom, there’s a lot of humour in the book too, mostly from Lemony Snicket himself who serves as the book’s narrator. While telling the story he often rambles off on tangents and loses his train of thought. It’s a device that really helps break from the darker tone and had me laughing out loud more than once.

   While I really enjoyed this one, it wasn’t without its faults. The main problem was the three children themselves who I found to be pretty bland. None of them are particularly appealing and I found the villainous count Olaf and his theatrical associates to much more enjoyable.

   Having finally read this book, I can definitely say, I wish I’d picked it up when I was younger, I’d have adored this book during my childhood. Reading as an adult I found it a little too childish in places but otherwise a greatly enjoyable read. I’d already raced ahead and read books two and three. I’m not sure if I’ll end up finishing the series but for now I’m happy to continue. It’s definitely a great series to introduce your kids to as well as a great one to read as a grown up. 

Lemony Snicket

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