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The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate…

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1) (original 1999; edition 1999)

by Lemony Snicket

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11,223292250 (3.67)183
fyrefly98's review
A fun little excursion into some really well-crafted kiddie lit. The Baudelaire children are orphaned and sent to live with their distant relative, the evil Count Olaf, who will stop at nothing to get their inherited fortune. A very witty book, with seriously-worded warnings and digressions from the author; it seems to take itself simultaneously very seriously while still winking at the knowing reader. By the end, the vocabulary-building digressions started to tread the line between cute and tiresome for an adult reader, but overall, a well-crafted and fun break from Serious Adult Literature (and happy endings). ( )
  fyrefly98 | Dec 6, 2006 |
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This is a great book. I picked this book up at my local Goodwill and I would like to continue the rest of the series to keep in my book collection. I really love Lemony Snickett's writing style. His books are completely cynical but so humorous. This book would be a great way to introduce children to chapter books. The story line is great and makes you want to continue reading. This was a quick, but enjoyable read for me.

For a complete review: please visit my blog at the link below on or after March 18, 2014

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  blog_gal | Jul 26, 2014 |
I am not quite sure what I want to say about this book really.

It's a very easy read, I finished it within a 24 hour period. It is well written and the characters are very much believable (to a degree). He made you love the ones you were supposed to love and strongly dislike the ones you were meant to dislike.

I loved the Baudelaire children, especially the baby. I loved the Judge and her willingness to allow them to come into her home and how she mothered them. I especially enjoyed the pictures in the book and how well they were drawn.

Snicket's writing style is unique, to me anyway, and very easy to read and understand. And I can see why his stories are so popular.

Now, knowing that this is a children's books, it still kind of drove me crazy how he would say a word or phrase and then describe what it meant. I just kept thinking: Why can't he just use something different? Instead of using phrases or words he will have to explain anyway, why not just use different wording? Well, I guess he had his reasons and purpose for it. Maybe to teach the children that are reading the books something new while giving them a fun story to read. I don't know. But that was the only thing I didn't really like about the book. Again, I know this is a children's book, I was just giving my opinion on how I felt about it.

I have books 2-4 on my shelf waiting for me when I am ready to go on in the series, but I am not quite sure when that will be. I am glad that I finally just gave in and read this book after putting it off for so many years because I wasn't quite sure how I would feel about the books. I would pick it up, read the first paragraph then put it back down. This time, I was just determined to read at least this first one, get a feel for it and decide whether I will go on or not. Well, I do plan on reading at least the next three I have on my shelf, whether I get through those next three or not, or even go on after that, is still unclear but I will at least know for sure now why people love these little books so much. ( )
  MsBridgetReads | Jul 8, 2014 |
Although not as exciting as some of its sequels, The Bad Beginning sets the stage well for the later instalments. The key players are well introduced and are incredibly memorable but the finest aspect of the story lies in its writing.

Snicket's style is vibrant and imaginative, spicing the serious subject matter with a dark humor that will appeal to readers of all ages. Although some may find exception with the repetitive nature of his narration, I found it to be charming and am really looking forward to seeing where this series goes in the future. ( )
  ArkhamReviews | Jul 8, 2014 |
I LOOOOOOOVE THISBOOK SERIES!! I mean how come they never made a second movie adaptation! I found the movie awesome! I mean. Yeah. (nothing will beat the Harry Potter series, of course). I remember watching the movie first before reading the book. (I was just 8 or 9 or 10 by then, i think) so i read the book after i watched the movie. And i really liked the book. The Baudelaire children are so 'unfortunate' but they still manage to stick together and outsmart the ever so evil Count Olaf. Must-read! ( )
  PamZaragoza | Jun 27, 2014 |
I actually listened to this on tape/cd. If you get the chance, it is read by Tim Curry, and what is not to love about him reading a kids book? ( )
  Dmtcer | Jun 3, 2014 |
I adore these books, I really do. A great introduction to the series, gets you accustomed to the completely over-the-top villain that is Count Olaf. So maybe these books are unrealistic, bending the rules of what you can do before it just gets stupid, but hey, don't we need more of that? ( )
  katie1802 | May 10, 2014 |
I love Lemony Snicket! This book bring you on a journey through the lives of three orphans whose parents die in a horrible fire. They are then adopted by there wacky uncle who tries to set up their death to inherit their fortune. The book is wacky, heartwarming, and scary all in one! It is a wonderful read! I can't wait to read the rest of the series! ( )
  CMJohnson | Apr 29, 2014 |
Violet, Clause, and Sunny lose their parents and become orphans who are shipped off to be under the care of the horrible Count Olaf, and that's just the first day! The introductory book to this peculiar and wonderful series of unfortunate... well, you know.

I actually saw the movie before I read this book and I enjoyed it enough to dig deeper. The book is excellent and really paints a deeper picture than the movie can provide in such a short time. Written in shorter volumes that create a cereal story, these books are excellent to pick up and devour, one right after the other. Having children as the protagonists, especial exceeding talented and intelligent ones, makes for an excellent adventure that younger readers can dig into. ( )
  abrial2433 | Mar 17, 2014 |
First in a series of books for ages 10 and up. The Baudelaire children are orphaned when their parents' mansion burns down while they are down on the beach playing. Mr. Poe, the parents' lawyer and family friend, takes the children in for a short while until their nearest relative can be located. Things go from bad to worse when the children are placed with the bizarre and evil part time actor, Count Olaf. All three Baudelaire children are smart and resourceful, which is lucky, since all the well meaning adults in the story are totally clueless. The evil adults in the story are so unbelievable that most children won't be scared by them, and they will be buoyed by the clever children who can outsmart them. The book is well written, vocabulary is defined by the author in a way to explain to younger readers while entertaining the elders. ( )
  mnlohman | Feb 17, 2014 |
I much preferred Harry Potter. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
Brilliant! A quick and easy read perfectly targeted at junior readers, filled with wit, action, and genuine charm. ( )
  aiturnizzle | Feb 4, 2014 |
The Bad Beginning starts of the Series of Unfortunate Events. It is an interesting book because the characters and settings are very strange. The Baudelaire children are orphans who must live with their evil uncle, Count Olaf. All he wants is their fortune and he puts them through a lot of misery. He puts the baby in a birdcage and hangs her out a window. He plots to marry the oldest girl, Violet, and then kill her. The writer often stops to explain the meaning of words. I need to learn more vocabulary, but I found this annoying. Also, the writing seemed more like a formula than a story the author really wanted to tell. ( )
  aleader | Feb 2, 2014 |
I was surprised at how dark this book is. ( )
  Emelymac | Jan 15, 2014 |
Hm. Not really my kind of book. It wasn't bad, but I lost interest halfway through. I thought the storytelling and characters were kind of bland - as interesting as the "tales of woe"-premise sounded, it was the only thing that actually defined the book, and thereby made it predictable.

I don't know how kids see this book, maybe it's just their thing, but for me it was not remarkable, and I've read a lot of children's and YA books that were a lot more intricate and gripping (from my adult's point of view). I always feel a little guilty if I dismiss a book as bad or mediocre when it is intended for children, who might love it to death for their own reasons - so this comment is mainly aimed at adult readers who like to read YA and children's books. Anyway, I might read another one in the series if I happen to stumble across it in a used book store, but I won't go looking for it. ( )
  tigerbuns | Jan 10, 2014 |
This is (I think) aiming for dark humour, but ends up more dark than humourous! Not sure when I will be happy to read this to my son ... ( )
  rlangston | Jan 8, 2014 |
This is the book that began a unique series of children's literature, filled with a huge helping of dark humor and a highly intrusive narrator. We start out with the Baudelaire children enjoying a brief respite on the beach. A mysterious figure emerges from the mist, revealing itself as Mr. Poe, an old friend of the family. He has awful news to deliver: their house has burned to the ground, and their parents perished in the flames. Nothing remains.

The bleak beginning is lightened by the narrator's silly and surreal asides, and the idiosyncratic nature of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. Nonetheless, this story is quite heavy, definitely the darkest of any book in the series. After Mr. Poe takes them to his home, he finds a guardian that meets the requirements of their parents' will, who is related to them, and lives in the closest vicinity to their house. When their new legal guardian, Count Olaf, comes to collect them, the children do not have a good first impression. He is tall, untidy, and his eyes glint as if he is mad or greedy. As the narrator points out, first impressions are often wrong; sadly, in this case, they are not. Count Olaf is a monster. He neglects basic care of the children, demands that they complete inappropriate and dangerous chores, and is constantly threatening them. He makes it clear that he is only interested in collecting the fortune that was left to the children when their parents died. When Klaus stands up to him, Olaf is physically abusive. The children try to turn to Mr. Poe for help, but the banker is more than inept, and tells them that they must obey their new guardian, as he is their legal father. The only bright spot in their new existence is their kindly neighbor, Justice Strauss, and her clean and welcoming house.

Violet and Klaus make good use of her library, and are especially grateful for the privilege when they need to do research to understand Count Olaf's latest mood swing. One morning, the three siblings come downstairs to find Olaf in a good mood. He is friendly. He made them breakfast. He must be up to something.

Olaf asks the children to be actors in his upcoming play, The Marvelous Marriage. They hesitantly agree, but as soon as he leaves, rush to Justice Strauss's library and begin to search. Their efforts in reading lengthy law books come to nothing, though, until Klaus decides to study a book about nuptial law. Klaus realizes that Olaf has learned a way to steal their inheritance. If he marries Violet, he legally has a right to the money. At only fourteen, Violet is too young to marry, unless her guardian gives permission; Olaf is her guardian. The two older Baudelaires surmise that the play is just a ruse, and that Olaf is planning to actually marry Violet during the proceedings. Their suspicions are confirmed when Justice Strauss reveals that Olaf invited her to play the role of the judge, and asked her to read everything exactly as she would for a real wedding, for authenticity.

Despite the odds being decidedly against them, especially after Olaf holds Sunny hostage in a cage dangling from a high tower window, the children are finally able to prevail and escape Olaf's evil intentions. For the time being. The narrator leaves no question of the fact that more horrible events await the Baudelaires, as Mr. Poe ushers them off to the next relative that can be their guardian, according to the legal requirements of the will. The narrator is basically another character in this book, a feature which only becomes more elaborate as the series progresses and his siblings make appearances in the stories. With his absurd commentaries, and the black humor of the whole situation, the actual author does a fine job of taking very grim subject matter and turning it into an entertaining and even funny story. Despite the narrator's constant assurances that this story has no happy endings, it does: the children outwit Olaf at the last moment. Not a total victory, but a small one nonetheless. With the evil villain, the resourceful children, the tense plot and surprising climax, this book pulled me in and convinced me to keep reading the series. The story doesn't have the depth of later books in the series, but it is a great start. ( )
  nmhale | Dec 8, 2013 |
Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire are three intelligent young children who receive terrible news that their parents have died in a fire and have left them an enormous fortune not to be used until the eldest child is of age. When they are sent to live with Count Olaf, a greedy distant relative, they soon learn he is trying to steal their fortune for himself.
  kelseyo | Nov 27, 2013 |
A surprisingly enjoyable read was ruined by an ugly, cop-out ending. Even if I had read this as a kid I feel like that ending would have annoyed me. I won't go into detail to avoid spoilers, but still. With a more solid ending it would have easily been four stars. Now I don't know if I'll even read any of the sequels. ( )
  davadog13 | Nov 21, 2013 |
Tried reading these books as a kid, in the height of their popularity. Got the the third book, but stopped. I don't know why, but I hated them. :( ( )
  EmilieM | Oct 27, 2013 |
These series are absolutely amazing. The way that they bring the reader into a whole new world is something that children live for!
  SamiRomanecz | Oct 15, 2013 |
This is a wonderful series about all of the unfortunate things that happen to three siblings after their parents pass in a fire. This series is appropriate for middle school and up. These are great for leisure reading and could be used to teach children about hardships that other children might face. ( )
  Alyssa-Schoenborn | Sep 27, 2013 |
got whole series
  LaneGraves | Sep 11, 2013 |
  Ashley_Rodrigues | Sep 5, 2013 |
Quirky and fun! A little dark but with a great villain to route against. ( )
  klarsenmd | Sep 1, 2013 |
I read this children's tale of woe and despair and unending misery when it came out in French back in 2006. I found it funny with lots of interesting uses of vocabulary (yes even in French, the translation is a really good one). Fast forward to 2012... well... it's a tale for me that didn't age well. Maybe it's the fact that there are many others children writers bringing books with definitely more style and substance. Still, for older readers (9 to 12 years old) who have difficulty with books, reading, this is a good way to get them to read fiction. It's short, it uses repetition but not in a over the top way, the narrator involves the reader in the plot. For me, the novelty has passed but I'm not the intended public for this. ( )
  writerlibrarian | Aug 31, 2013 |
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