Review: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1)
Lemony Snicket
Published September 30, 1999

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About The Bad Beginning

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

The Bad Beginning on Goodreads

My Review

Lemony Snicket is one of the few authors, I think, who can do something like write a letter to the reader instead of paragraphs of back cover copy and it honestly works. His writing is playful and he breaks all kinds of conventions but in such a clever way that I never mind. I actually started reading this book years ago to my daughter when we’d read aloud together before she went to bed, but I think she loved the story so much she must have started reading it on her own since I wasn’t going fast enough in those few minutes before bed. Ha! That’s writing success right there.

Anyway, so I kind of knew the rest of the story because she and I had talked about it, but I’d never read the whole book on my own. And lately, to be honest, I’ve just needed the pick-me-up that cheeky middle grade books can be.

I liked this book a lot, but it’s really weird thinking back on my experience reading it. There are a lot of dark moments: the children are placed with a guardian who pretty much treats them like free labor. He’s controlling and creepy and obviously a villain.

The relationships between the children are so great. They each have really different personalities (Sunny is my favorite), and each add something special to the story.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to read and review the whole series, because I’m terrible about finishing a series, and this one is 13 books! As it is, I still haven’t finished the last book in Snicket’s All the Wrong Questions series. But I definitely liked THE BAD BEGINNING enough to read more of this series.

The Bad Beginning on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Major characters are white. The story is set in England.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
An adult tries to trick a child into marrying him. It’s clear the intention is financial.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
An adult threatens to kill or harm one or all of the children. One is placed in a cage.

Drug Content
Several adults drink wine and behave badly.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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