I actually haven’t read this series in a while, but one of my goals in life is to buy the full set. Ridiculous goal, I know.
I first discovered Lemony Snicket and all his awesomeness when I was about 10 years old. I was a little behind the times, as the first one came out in 1999, when I was 8. But, after reading the first one, I was hooked! I absolutely loved them, and I still do. Over the years I waited patiently for them to come out and then immediately put my name down on the library list so I could read the latest one as soon as possible. There are 13 books in total, each with their own separate story line, but, like many series, they have the same main story running across all the books.
You’re probably familiar with A Series of Unfortunate Events, whether that be because you’ve read them yourself, know someone who has, or seen the movie. The movie, despite the fact that I think Jim Carey did a great job, was no where near as good as the books, and it was confusing because it mixed the first three books into one. If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t bother.
The story is about three children (Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire) who are orphaned at a young age and left with a huge fortune. They are placed in the care of a distant relative, evil Count Olaf, who is after this fortune and will stop at nothing to try and get it. Throughout the books, the children escape from large falling windows, humongous snakes, dodgy elevators, an evil village, a freak carnival and many more people and places to try and get as far away from Olaf as possible. I know that this sounds depressing and horrible, and I guess, for the most part, it is. But it’s also wonderful. The children are smart, sensible and fantastically clever and you really want to punch Count Olaf in the face. Along with that, and a multitude of interesting characters along the way, the series really is a fantastic read.
The writing style! Oh the writing style! It’s possibly my favourite style I’ve ever read. Lemony Snicket (pen name for Daniel Handler apparently) narrates the books and continuously warns you to put the book down and stop reading. He adds things in along the way that aren't really directly about the story, but are somehow related (or not) to whatever circumstance the children are in. For example, one of my favourite passages is from the 7th book, ‘The Vile Village’ and reads:
‘Although "jumping to conclusions" is an expression, rather than an activity, it is as dangerous as jumping off a cliff, jumping in front of a moving train, and jumping for joy. If you jump off a cliff, you have a very good chance of experiencing a painful landing unless there is something below you to cushion your fall, such as a body of water or an immense pile of tissue paper. If you jump in front of a moving train, you have a very good chance of experiencing a painful voyage unless you are wearing some sort of train-proof suit. And if you jump for joy, you have a very good chance of experiencing a painful bump on the head, unless you make sure you are standing some place with very high ceilings, which joyous people rarely do. Clearly, the solution to anything involving jumping is either to make sure you are jumping to a safe place, or not to jump at all.’
Is that not fantastic?! I love that! There are many more short sections like this throughout the series and little notes and comments from the author as he tells the story of the 3 children. If you haven’t read the series, I really do recommend them. You don’t have to be a kid to read them or to enjoy them – like I said, I’m planning on buying them all so I can read them again and again and again…
This review was written by regular reviewer Anjali, get to know her here.