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on 31 May 2004
Even though this is a book targeted to kids by its publisher, I think that the author wrote it considering a much broader audience. I would say that as Rowling did with "Harry Potter", Snicket will captivate people of all ages. A word of warning though, the author clearly states that this is an unhappy story and that if you do not like this you should not try to read it. He is not joking! The story is sad and every time there is a glimpse of hope, it is quickly quenched.
The three Baudelaire siblings are the main characters in this unhappy story. Violet is a fourteen-year-old who loves to think constantly about possible inventions. Klaus is twelve, intelligent and enjoys reading all kinds of books. Sunny is the little infant that is going through a biting stage and will go at anything with her four teeth. Everything starts out wrong right from the beginning, when the Baudelaire siblings, now orphans, find out that their parents died in a fire. They have a huge fortune, but they will not have access to it until Violet reaches adulthood. In the meantime, Mr. Poe, the executioner of the estate will manage the funds and take care of finding a place for the orphans to live in.
Violet, Klaus and Sunny end up living with Count Olaf, in a house that is a disaster and has a weird feeling about it. Also, they quickly realize that the Count's only interest is in the money they have and in nothing else. The kids are forced to take care of the house chores and only find solace in their friendly neighbor, Justice Strauss. But any glimpse at happiness is quickly extinguished by new terrible events. We even get a second warning by the author halfway through the book: "...people who hate stories in which terrible things happen to small children should put this book down immediately". However, my recommendation is: keep reading, you will not be disappointed.
The start of the series left me hooked and I will read the following books in the near future. I like the story, even with its sad tone, and enjoy the author's style. He has a humorous way of writing, defining obvious words and explaining some things that do not need explanations, even for kids. I think this is his way of satirizing some children's book that treat kids as if they were unable to comprehend simple matters. Moreover, there is a point in which he will start defining words using other words he defined before.
I am extremely satisfied with the experience of trying out this new author and would highly recommend it to people of all ages.
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on 15 October 2001
For those of us who are sick and tired of the cheery world of children's literature, complete with talking rabbits and other fluffy little creatures whose every problem is resolved to their complete and undeniably cheery satisfaction comes the very opposite. Lemony Snicket makes no pretensions where his books are concerned; each one of these magically morbid tales, of which this is the first, features deaths aplenty and more than a few situations which would have less realistic children's authors of yesteryear spinning in their grave. The whole thing is buoyed along on a bobbing tide of grim humour, and every book contains at least one moment of delicious realisation that the very worst you could possibly imagine is, yes... it's going to happen. The illustrations add a most macabre realism to the proceedings, and the three children's characters are not only depicted lavishly in glowing prose but also shine through in each meticulously detailed image. One can only hope the Baudelaire orphans never find happiness, for to do so would mean the end of a fine series of books.
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on 22 November 2004
First of all I would like this say I that was wanting to review this book for some time but keep forgetting until now. This is a really good book written by Lemony Snicket. Its about three unfortunate children name Violet, Klaus and Sunny. Their parents had recently died caused by an accidental fire that burnt down their mansion, or was it accidental? Anyways the three now orphans are now living with Count Olaf, a tall, thin man who is believe to be sort of their relative. Count Olaf is very cruel to them, making them do all sorts of chores, fixing the house, making dinner, things that children their ages don't normally do. But Violet, Klaus and Sunny aren't just normal children, they all of talents, Violet who is 14, can invent tons of things. Klaus who is 12, is quite smart for his age, he reads more than an average kid would read. Sunny who is still a baby doesn't have talent yet, but she likes to bite stuff and will be quite helpful in the next few books. Anyways they found out that their parents had left them a enormous fortune that they can use when Violet is 18. But they start to suspect that Count Olaf is thinking of a malevolent plan to some how get that fortune... It is a really well written book. I read this book about 8 times already. Its like one of those books where you can read it for a billion time and still don't get bore of it. Lemony Snicket is such an amazing author, the Bad Beginning is my favourite book out of the Unfortunate Events Series. To understand the series you have to read the books inorder. I didn't do that, I read this one first then the wide widow which is book 3 then 4 and 6 and then 2, and guess what happened? I had to start all over reading book one again because it didn't make sense. But anyways I recommend you to buy this book, you won't regret it!
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It is no doubt a great wrong to take such pleasure in reading about the misery of the three Beaudelaire orphans in "The Bad Beginning," the first book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, but that seems a natural reaction to this tale by Lemony Snicket. Violet is fourteen with a real knack for inventing and building strange devices; Klaus is twelve and very well read; and Sunny is a mere infant who likes to bite and to exclaim single words with great depths of meaning. But none of that seems to matter when their house burns down along with their parents while they are enjoying a day at the beach. The law dictates that the three children be raised by their relative, which turns out to the odious--the word "odious" here means "deservedly hateful"--Count Olaf who supplies them with a single bed and cold porridge for breakfast. While the Baudelaire siblings dream of a better life, Olaf saddles them with a multitude of chores and plots to steal their family fortune. From a bad beginning, things just continue to get worse for Violet, Klaus, and Sunny.
Young readers of A Series of Unfortunate Events can prosper--the word "prosper" here means "benefit"--from paying attention to the details of the story. There are slight glimmers of hope in the story, although they never last long, and you can anticipate their brief appearances in the narrative if you read carefully. They will also expand their vocabulary because in telling the depressing story of the Baudelaire orphans author Lemony Snicket tends to use unfamiliar words; granted, he explains what they means, just as he translates Sunny's inarticulate outbursts. Young readers might be depressed and despondent-the word "despondent" means "depressed"-when they have finished reading "The Bad Beginning," but they will have learned some new words to help express their despondency.
The only complaint that one (or more) can have about "The Bad Beginning" is that it is relatively short. But then, to be fair, there is only so much about disaster lurking around every corner that a young reader can bear. True, the story comes with a strong warning that it lacks a happy ending, beginning or middle, but there is something to be said for discovering that somebody else's lot in live is worse than your own. A gentleman by the name of Brett Haelquist has been hired to provide illustrations that provide a sense of the despair without actually showing you the evil face of Count Olaf or the man with the hook. There is a handsome cover picture and the book is hardbound, as befits a tragedy of this sort. Against all common sense I have a flicker of hope in my chest for the poor Baudelaire orphans as I procede to the second book, "The Reptile Room," but I fear the worst.
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on 2 October 2003
When my younger brother first bought this book, and when I saw its size, cover and title, I thought it was exclusively written for little kids. However I read it, and had a very pleasant surprise. Lemony Snicket (AKA Daniel Handler) has a witty and, in some ways, surreal style of writing.
This story sets the scene for the following twelve novels (all but two of which have been published), and concerns the three Baudelaire children: Violet, Klaus and Sunny. Their parents die in a house-fire, and they are taken into the custody of the villainous Count Olaf.
Monobrowed Olaf has a plan to steal the children's inherited fortune......though I don't want to spoil anything.
Some of the one-liners are so obtuse they are hysterically funny, and though the story itself seems to tread some fairly well-worn ground in the plot-stakes, the language and wit raises this series well above your average novel. Brilliant.
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on 23 November 2003
The bad beginning ia an unusual book that I have not thought of reading before. When I read the blurb I thought it was interesting and from the first page it has been an amazing read.
The story is about 3 children whose parents die in a fire in their own home. The children then go to a close relative who takes them to an,old scary man,who has a weird obsession with eyes, he has a tattoo on his ankle which is a mystery to the children.As the story unfolds you can't take your eyes off the story!
The characters are claus,violet and sunny(the 3 children), mr and mrs poe(the close relatives) and count Olaf (the man who likes eyes). The characters come alive as if they are controlling your feelings.
There are 10 books in the series upto now and I plan on reading them all! I enjoyed reading this book and would read it again,it's emotional but a mysterious book that takes over your feelings.
By Lacey holden,age 12 at Parklands High School
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VINE VOICEon 3 January 2005
The first in a series of 13, this is an unmissable children's novel. The elusive 'Lemony Snicket' establishes his unique, ironic and totally skewed narrative from the first lines, using a variety of tricks - such as his bizarre and ironic definitions of vocabulary and his constant suggestion that you go and read something else - in a way that is as enjoyable to read as it must have been to write.
The story concerns the Baudelaires, Violet, aged thirteen, ten-year-old Klaus and the baby, Sunny, each with their own unusual talent. After the death of their parents in a terrible fire they are sent to stay with their relative, the nefarious Count Olaf, who is after their legendary fortune. With a variety of dastardly schemes, Olaf, along with his assortment of improbable accomplices, attempts to make the Baudelaire riches his own.
The plot is the stuff of fairytales, but the tone is not. Snicket is witty, dark and deadpan, combining laugh-out-loud irony with an incredibly pacy plot, creating a book that is entirely original and greatly enjoyable. Meanwhile, adults can spot the numerous literary references and hidden jokes (Baudelaire, Poe, Beatrice.) I recommend this highly.
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VINE VOICEon 31 May 2007
The Lemony Snicket books are very popular among the boys in my Year 4 class, largely because they turn the predictable, good-characters-live-happily-ever-after, bad-character-gets-his-comeuppance type story on its head. This, the first in the series, starts as it means to go on as the three main characters - siblings Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire - lose their home and their parents in a big fire before being packed off to live with their closest relative, Count Olaf. But Count Olaf just happens to be a greedy, conniving and generally rather unpleasant character who tries every which way to get his hands on the children's inherited fortune.

The Lemony Snicket books are aimed at readers aged between 8 and 14; they are easy enough to read and - if you're prepared to heed the author's warning on the first page - enjoyable too, being, as they are, darkly comic and just the right side of "mildly disturbing".

Matt Pucci
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on 9 April 2005
If you haven't heard of 'A Series of Unfortunate Events,' then where have you been? I don't know anyone who read these books and didn't like them. Just read the book! Read all the books!
Anyway, this is the first book about the three Baudelaires, Sunny, Violet and Klaus. Their parents are killed in the fire that burns down their home, and as if that wasn't bad enough, they are sent to live with the evil Count Olaf. Count Olaf is determined to steal the Baudelaires' fortune and this is the first of his attempts to kill them and get his hands on the money. The book is funny, gripping and tense, and it might even teach you some new words! If you're an extremely sensitive person, you might not like it, but I am and I love the books. Read this and then read the other books in the series - it won't be hard to find them in a bookshop, trust me...
Reviewed by britishfairyprincess
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on 7 April 2002
This is a brilliant book with lots of laughs.The fact that Lemony Snicket has made `unfortunate events` humerous and that the children in the story never end up happy makes you want to read on. I also like the way Lemony Snicket speaks to you aswell as telling the story.
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