Book Review- The Bad Beginning

Thursday, 9 August 2012
Title: The Bad Beginning
Author: Lemony Snicket
Publication Date: September 30th 1999
Publisher: Egmont Books
Pages: 162
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events
Genre: Childrens, Mystery, Middle Grade

Rating: 4/5

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

This is a novel written for younger children but is still an enjoyable read for anybody. This is the second time I have actually read it and we own the whole series so I will re-read the rest too.
In this novel, 3 newly orphaned children go to live with an distant relative Count Olaf. Count Olaf really wants to get his hands on the children's huge wealth. The 3 children have to try and foil his evil plan and save themselves and their fortune.
The plot was quite simple which is understandable as it is written for younger children and on the whole I found it very enjoyable. It is fast paced and interesting, with twists that will keep younger children guessing but which I found rather predictable.
The characters are really interesting, with the three children being my favourites. Violet is the eldest child and loves to invent things. This is rather a strange personality trait which not many characters are given so I enjoyed reading about the things she invented. The middle child is called Klaus and he loves to read. He knows lots, and his knowledge comes in handy during the book. The youngest child is called Sunny and she is still a toddler. She doesn't know any words but she loves to bite things including people. The villain is called Count Olaf, who is a distant relative of the orphans, who wants to get the orphans fortune, which will be Violet's when she comes of age. He was a really great villain, with the right amount of believability and menace to make him seem quite scary.
This novel is written in 3rd person, by someone recounting the children's adventure. Also the author uses a great number of words that some younger children might not recognise, but he puts the meaning of the word after it. For example "...occasionally their parents gave them permission to take a rickety trolley - the word 'rickety,' you probably know, here means 'unsteady' or 'likely to collapse' - alone to the seashore...."
At first I found this jarring and felt it spoilt the flow of the novel but after a chapter or so I got used to it and I didn't really notice it. This would be helpful for people who didn't know what these words meant and it is probably teaching younger children new vocabulary.
Overall I would recommend this book whatever your age as it is enjoyable and different from most books out there at the moment. 


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