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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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This book is the best so far in the series. It is a very good read and as per usual Count Olaf appears in one of his ridiculous disguises! We learn more about Lemony Snicket's own life as the book goes along and some of the characters are very annoying! This book is slightly longer than the first 4 and it shouldn't be read in one go. The book ends on a cliffhanger, unlike the first 4 and readers are left wondering what will happen next. This book is suitable for all ages and everyone who wants a good laugh will enjoy this!
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on 19 February 2005
After their extremely unfortunate stay at a disastrous mill, the three Baudelaire siblings find themselves once more without a home. And now Mr. Poe, who is the person in charge of administering their estate until Violet becomes of age, has gotten the orphans admitted to Prufrock Preparatory School. If you have read the previous books in this series, you are aware that Count Olaf, an evil man that will stop at nothing to get their fortune, has constantly harassed the Baudelaires. One of the reasons why Mr. Poe chose the school to which they are headed is that it has an advance computer system that is supposed to keep the hideous count away.
Upon their arrival at the school, Violet, Klaus and Sunny start oddities about the place, like the fact that all the buildings are shaped as gravestones and that the school motto is the one shown in the title of this review and means "Remember you will die". But these are mere nuisances that in a different situation would make the children laugh, since they had gone through much worse. Unluckily there are more important obstacles that the children have to face, like vice principal Nero, who is a very annoying and conceited man that spends almost all his time playing the violin...BADLY! He decides to send the siblings to live in the orphan shack and they also have to follow the capricious rules that govern the lives of students at Prufrock. The most important and annoying of these rules is that they have to attend daily a six-hour concert in which Nero performs with his screeching violin. The penalty for not doing that is steep: buy a bag of candy, give it to the vice principal and watch him eat it.
There are several aspects of this series that I enjoy greatly, and I found all of them in this book, making it one of the best in the series so far. One of these is the cleverly depicted characters, which have characteristics that allow Snicket to create funny situations throughout the story. In this case, we find Nero, who Snicket uses in great fashion to make us laugh. The author also has a great ability for interjecting hilarious comments that are most of times nonsense, but that work well with the tone of the story nevertheless. These also provide a nice balance with the unfortunate situations the Baudelaires go through.
Of course, Count Olaf shows his ugly face, with his continuous eyebrow, in this story, but we also get the chance to meet a couple of other very interesting characters. Like Carmelita Spats, who is the typical bully present in all schools in this planet. But the orphans also get the chance to meet other orphans, the Quagmire triplets. They only get to meet two of them though, since one of them is dead. The Quagmires also come from a wealthy family and quickly become that Baudelaires' best friends.
The new characters provide the story with more depth, and as we have seen in other children's series, like Harry Potter, the plot is starting to be more complex and elaborate. Also, the suspense level is clearly increasing and it is hard to stop between one installment and the next. If you are following this series you will not be disappointed by this episode, and if you have not read any of the books yet, I recommend that you start with "The Bad Beginning", you will not be able to stop after that.
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on 1 May 2004
The Wide Window and Miserable Mill only really revisited the themes of the first two books, but from The Austere Academy onwards the plot really begins to find it's bearings.
In this novel we meet the two Quagmire Triplets whose experienced are not unlike those of the Baudelaires. It's still follows the pattern of the previous three books, flawed adults that persistently disbelieve the kids until the last minute, and Olaf in yet another ridiculous disguise, but the introduction of the Quagmires starts the ball rolling with a story arc that makes all subsequent novels a series of masterpieces.
If you haven't read any of the Lemony Snicket novels before (in which case you should really start with "Bad Beginning") he has a witty style that never talks down to his audience. Though he often explains any words or phrases that might not be in the younger readers vocbulary but always does so in a humourous (sometimes quite darkly so) way, that makes each explanation a joy to anyone who like Klaus Baudelaire already know what that word or phrase means. I usually laugh out loud at some point reading each page including the dedication and about the author!
Lots of children's authors are likened to Roald Dahl, but none so deservedly so as Lemony Snicket.
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on 28 March 2005
After the Baudelaire Orphans unfortunate stay at the Lucky Smell Lumbermill, they are dropped off, by the ever coughing Mr Poe, to the Prufrock Preparatory School.
As the author warns you on the back of the book, this story isn't about giggling girls who have a jolly good time, and if it is then you'll have to look under the dust jacket because you've probably got the wrong book!
In this instalment - which here means the fifth book out of all the other books - Violet, Klaus and Sunny are enrolled in school (about time!). They meet Vice Principal Nero (the one who thinks he can play the violin) and the 'Advanced Computer System' (the one Poe and Nero think can keep Olaf away). But alas it isn't long before Count Olaf makes his appearance in yet another disguise, which might have fooled you and me, but it doesn't fool the Baudelaire Children. They also make some new friends, the Quagmire triplets, whose parents also died in a fire leaving a fortune - a word which means a lot of sapphires. Look out for a twist at the end of the book!
In summary (a phase here which means I've said enough and tried not to give anything away) the book advances the story and introduces V.F.D. I would like to add a caution to my review for younger reader: don't try making those home made staples at home!
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on 19 January 2002
I absolutely adore this series (I've bullied lots of friends into reading them too) but whilst reading episode 4, "The Miserable Mill", I found myself thinking that the stories were becoming a wee bit formulaic; the Baudelaires go to another relative and it all goes horribly wrong. However, from this story onwards they just get better and better with some major continuing plot strands introduced as well as new reappearing characters. Amongst these are the two Quagmire triplets, Isadora and Duncan, who have also come across Count Olaf before. I've given "The Austere Acadamy" four stars as, whilst a very very good read, the following books get even better. My advice - make sure you read the dedications at the front of every book!
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on 14 January 2004
I started reading "A Series of Unfortunate Events" after they were recommended to me - however, after "The Wide Window" and "The Miserable Mill" I was starting to worry that they were becoming a bit samey - Baudelaires sent somewhere new, Olaf turns up in disguise, nobody believes them when they say it's him, then a combination of Violet's ideas, Klaus's research skills and Sunny's teeth save the day.
"The Austere Academy" though showed me that this was far from being an unchanging formula. The introduction of the Quagmires, and the subsequent developments, give the underlying plot a big kick forwards, and especially for us bigger kids (or adults as we sometimes call ourselves) it becomes a lot more entertaining. I'm now well and truly hooked again!
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on 23 February 2016
Basically: The fifth book in A Series of Unfortunate Events which follows the Baudelaire siblings as they are enrolled into boarding school.

In Depth: I'm enjoying this series as I reread it more than I enjoyed it when I originally read it. There's something entertaining about reading a series in which the children are so wonderfully charming and the adults so incompetent. These ideas that were so believable as a child are now outlandish as an adult.

The Story: Mr. Poe decided after the events of the previous four books that the children would be better off in a boarding school instead of being looked after by any legal guardians. This would have been a wonderful idea (and honestly Mr. Poe was looking at this through rather rose tinted glasses) had the school been a nice normal school. Obviously the school is horrible and the Baudelaire children suffer terribly to triumph at the end.

The Characters: By this point in the series there are not many unfamiliar parts of the characters, but I'm not hoping for vast amounts of character development within these books (although a little would be nice).

My Thoughts: There is something enjoyable about this series despite the repetitive nature of the books. The writing is enjoyable (and they are such fast and light reads!) The illustrations are fantastic (even in the ebook versions) and the amusement it gives me is priceless.
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on 8 January 2005
Since November 2004, I,ve been reading all the A series of unfortunate event books. All are very good and make you read until the end without stopping.However, this one is the best yet.
Without giving too much of the story away, the children are sen't to a boarding school. They meet other twins there who also have had their parents dye in a fire, but they have a lot of money as well. Towards the end you think that the Baudelires have no way out of being kidnapped but there is a shocking twist at the end.
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on 13 October 2001
The Series Of Unfortunate Events books are about the Baudelaire orphans (Violet, Klaus and Sunny), who have been pursued by their evil cousin, Count Olaf, since their parents died in a house fire. This particular book (The 5th in the series) features a boarding school with a concieted and selfish Vice-Principal, rude pupils and boring teachers. They have to live in the Orphans Shack, which is infested by crabs. But just when you think things couldn't get any worse, Count Olaf turns up. I think that this book is the best in the series so far, and that's really saying something.
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