Children's Fiction · Novels

Review: A Series of Unfortunate Events

I grew on up these books. My best friend introduced them to me in the fourth grade when I didn’t have anything to read during silent reading. She gave me the sixth book in the series, no wonder I was so confused while reading it. Being confused aside, I loved the book. I loved the characters and the plot. It was, and still is super engaging, which is why I’m re-reading them for the third time.

Okay, I need to just make a note after re-reading this series for the third time (and probably not my last). It’s probably because I’m older now reading these novels, but some of these plots are a little strange for young children to endure, especially Sunny who is supposed to be a baby- I know it’s fiction, it’s just weird. Also the ending, why does it just end? There’s no conclusion per-sae, it’s more of okay Count Olaf is gone, we still don’t know what V.F.D really is, but we can live a somewhat normal life. None of the “mysteries” are really ever solved, just pushed to the side for the reader to forget about like nothing ever happened. I still think the series was very engaging and fun, but it really doesn’t hold as you get older.

Book One: 

The Bad Beginning
The Bad Beginning

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by: Lemony Snicket: The first novel in the Baudelaire series. Three siblings, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny have learned that their parents have died in a fire that burned their whole house down. They are left to live with a relative, Count Olaf, an evil man who has set out to steal their enormous fortune. He almost gets away with it too by marrying Violet, but she’s smarter than that. As much as the novel is pretty dreary and sad, it’s got a plotline that has it’s readers on edge and wanting to know what is going to happen next. The characters have all been shaped out very well so you get a sense of what kind of person they are. For a kids novel it’s great, it uses words that even adults might not know, and explains them, which is great for vocabulary. Overall, it’s a great first novel into the Baudelaire’s lives.

Book Two:  

The Reptile Room
The Reptile Room

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Reptile Room by: Lemony Snicket: The second novel in the Baudelaire series. Now that they’ve moved out of Count Olaf’s house, the three children meet their Uncle Monty. He’s a sweet fellow who loves snakes. They have the best time with him until his new assistant, Stephano shows up. Stephano is Count Olaf in disguise, and the children have to try and figure a way to capture him this time. The plot was well crafted with quite a bit of twists and turns, and has an ending that is quite tragic, even for this series. The reader is becoming very familiar with the characters, and the construction of Count Olaf is brilliant. He’s becoming more evil as the novels continue. As with the first novel, the word break down, and what words mean brings a knowledgeable feel to the series. Overall, there was great plot development, and character detail.

Book Three:

The Wide Window
The Wide Window

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Wide Window by: Lemony Snicket: The third novel in the Baudelaire’s lives. They have once again escaped Count Olaf’s clutches only to have him reappear again as Captain Sham. The children are sent to live with their Aunt Josephine, a lovely old lady, who is afraid of everything imaginable. The children must put up with her and get her to see reason about Captain Sham, but Sham gets to her first causing her to write a suicide note and flee. It’s up to the Baudelaire’s to figure out Captain Sham’s plan, and save Aunt Josephine. The plotline in this novel was somewhat original, like the first two prior novels they follow the same premise; this story is getting a little stale. The reader hopes that the next novel will have a different plot. The characters, other than Aunt Josephine are all characters the reader has met before, and have come to know, and possibly love. The character of Aunt Josephine was a fun addition, she brought a bit of comedic relief, as well as utter annoyance at times. There was nothing new to character developments. Mr. Poe is finally starting to have more a defined character profile other than his cough, and the fact that he doesn’t listen. Overall, the third novel was a good novel. Hopefully there will be some plot developments next novel!

Book Four:

The Miserable Mill
The Miserable Mill

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Miserable Mill by: Lemony Snicket: The fourth novel in the tale of the Baudelaire children’s lives. Moving from their relatives to a lumber mill. The children’s new guardian Sir is the boss of the Lucky Smells Lumbermill where the children are forced to work. They encounter two different types of people at the mill, extreme optimists, and extreme pessimists. The children continue to look for Count Olaf; he’s hiding somewhere, and he eventually shows himself in a new disguise that doesn’t fool them. The novel deals with hypnosis and an accident with a saw, which leads to new developments in the plot. This novel has strayed away from the first three novels a little bit, where the children aren’t living with relatives anymore. It still has the same premise, something bad happens, Count Olaf is revealed and escaped so the Baudelaire’s have to live with someone else. Although it’s set up a little differently so the reader doesn’t know what will happen to the children. This gave the plot something to look forward to just because it wasn’t so predictable. After this novel the reader wonders what Count Olaf could have up his sleeve next. Overall, it was a good follow up novel, it was a little dull at times, but for the most part a good read.

Book Five:

The Austere Academy
The Austere Academy

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Austere Academy by: Lemony Snicket: The fifth novel in the Baudelaire lives where the three children are forced to go to boarding school. Prufrock Preparatory School has become their worst enemy, they are forced to do a bunch of awful things, and of course Count Olaf has smuggled himself into the school with a new disguise. But through all this the siblings meet other orphans, Isadora and Duncan Quagmire. The Quagmires just want to help the Baudelaire’s out, but that plan backfires when Count Olaf realizes that Quagmires are rich too. This novel’s plotline like the novels before it is the same consistency, but the reader can see that the storyline is shifting. The Baudelaire’s have friends now, and at the end of this novel the reader learns a little bit more information, though not much because the reader must wait until the next book to find out what the new information means. But it definitely switches the tone of the novel, and it seems like a new storyline is in the works, making the reader crave more. Overall, the characters in this novel were annoying to read about, but the plot was good, giving the readers something to look forward to.

Book Six:

The Ersatz Elevator
The Ersatz Elevator

A Series of Unfornate Events: The Ersatz Elevator by: Lemony Snicket: The sixth novel in the Baudelaire lives. The three children have moved back into the city where they once lived with their parents. Their new guardians, one has no backbone, and the other is just as evil as Count Olaf. The children find a mysterious elevator shaft in their new home that brings them all sorts of troubles. They find the Quagmire triplets, but lose them to Count Olaf in an auction, and a tunnel that leads to their old house. This novel is full of mystery and answers left unanswered. It’s a great plot device to get the reader to read the next novel. This plotline wasn’t boring and as predictable as previous novels. Because everything is unresolved it’s hard to tell where the novel will go, but what the reader can be sure of is that the children will have a new guardian in the next novel. Overall, this novel was a good, interesting novel, even though some characters were super annoying, get past that and it’s a good novel.

Book Seven:

The Vile Village
The Vile Village

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Vile Village by: Lemony Snicket: The seventh novel in the Baudelaire lives. The children get to pick the next place they want to live. They choose a village named V.F.D thinking it has something to do with the mystery involving Count Olaf and V.F.D. Unfortunately they don’t learn too much, as they are forced to do all the town’s chores, and are accused of murdering a ‘Count Omar’. The children must fight for their lives or they could be burned at the stake. The reader can definitely tell the tone of the story is changing. It’s becoming a novel wrapped around the mystery of V.F.D and the novel is getting thicker, deeper plots instead of just running away from Count Olaf and his disguises. This novel was really fast paced. Each chapter had an action sequence, and there was always some sort of plot development happening. Not like in past novels where pages would tell the reader no new information, this novel wasted no time in getting to it all. It only took seven novels to start getting to the really good plots; the next should be just as good. Overall, this is one of the better novels in the series; it also had some great character development as well, so definitely worth reading to get to this point.

Book Eight:

The Hostile Hospital
The Hostile Hospital

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Hostile Hospital by: Lemony Snicket: The eighth novel in the Baudelaire lives. They are on the run, and all alone when they hitch a ride with V.F.D, Volunteer Fighting Diseases. This takes them to Heimlich Hospital where they work in the Library of Records, learning that there may have been a survivor to the fire that killed their parents. Olaf, or as he goes by in this novel, Mattathias, abducts Violet, disguising her as a patient; it’s now up to Klaus and Sunny to save her so they can escape once more from Olaf’s clutches. This novel, as much as it was unpredictable, and hard to actually image happening, it was entertaining to read. The author kept things suspenseful throughout, engaging readers and making them want to read more. The plot at times seemed a little foolish and unbelievable, who would believe a baby to be a doctor? But overall, it did a good job intertwining plot lines with different characters, plots are getting even more deeper, and the story telling is getting better and better.

Book Nine:

The Carnivorous Carnival
The Carnivorous Carnival

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Carnivorous Carnival by: Lemony Snicket: The ninth novel in the Baudelaire lives. They have escaped in the back of Count Olaf’s car to Caligari Carnival, where the children learn Olaf has been getting all his information on them. The tables have now turned as it’s the Baudelaire’s who are disguising themselves to hide from Count Olaf, and not the other way around. This time they disguise themselves as carnival freaks in order to stay hidden. While at the carnival they learn more things concerning the whereabouts of one of their parents. Just as they’ve come up with a plan, things go horribly wrong. The novels are getting more and more suspenseful, and the plots are definitely better than the few novels in the middle that were starting to bore the reader. The novels are starting to feel really short. There is so much going on that you blink, and the novel is over. This leaves the reader wanting to find out what is going to happen. Unlike the previous novels this one truly ends on a cliffhanger, where the children could live or die. It leaves the reader very ready for the next novel. Overall, character development in this novel is good, but there wasn’t much time for it with all the action scenes, the novel was go, go, go, and that made it worth the read.

Book Ten:

The Slippery Slope
The Slippery Slope

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Slippery Slope by: Lemony Snicket: The tenth novel in the Baudelaire lives. Violet and Klaus have to figure a way to get back to their sister Sunny who has been kidnapped by Count Olaf. Sunny spends her days at the top of the Mortmain Mountains having to cook for Olaf’s awful troupe, while her siblings are at the bottom of the mountain trying to rescue her. In between all of this the Baudelaire’s get closer to learning more about the mysteries that surround V.F.D, also learning that there are more mysteries than they ever expected to find. This novel really gives the reader a lot of information, but they don’t know how it applies to the story just yet. New characters are introduced, but they are a little two-dimensional, there’s nothing really exciting about them, but they will probably play a big role later on. This novel sets up the last few novels in this series. There wasn’t a lot of action in this novel, it was more of an informative, give the reader clues type read. Overall, it was a fascinating read that bridges the gap between what has happened in the past, and foreshadows to what will come in the future.

Book Eleven:

The Grim Grotto
The Grim Grotto

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Grim Grotto by: Lemony Snicket: The eleventh novel in the Baudelaire’s lives. The three siblings find their way onto a submarine where they meet Captain Widdershins and his stepdaughter Fiona. From there old characters return and Count Olaf doesn’t show up until the end of the novel. Focused on finding the last safe place and the sugar bowl before Count Olaf does, the children go through the Gorgonian Grotto in search, but only come back with poison. The two older Baudelaire’s have to save the youngest one before it’s too late. This novel is definitely filled with adventure from the moment it starts right until the end where they coincidently end up where the story started eleven novels ago. The author does a good job of bringing back characters in the most unexpected ways; it’s refreshing to read. Although the author tries to bore the reader by constantly talking about the water cycle, and how it relates to the Baudelaire lives, it’s done intentionally, but it’s done too repetitively to be considered clever or witty. Instead it comes off dull and annoying. The main plot felt like it was put on hold to make room for the subplots to give the reader more background and details that will later benefit to the main plot, taking down Count Olaf. Overall, this novel answers questions, but also leaves the reader with more questions. It was still nonetheless another exciting novel.

Book Twelve:

The Penultimate Peril
The Penultimate Peril

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Penultimate Peril by: Lemony Snicket: The twelfth novel in the Baudelaire lives. The three children have been through so many hardships and tragedies that this novel is no different. From the taxi they took in the previous novel leads them to the Hotel Denouement where they are disguised as concierges, but not for long. The children run into almost every person they’ve encountered throughout their journey. Trying to tell who are villains and who are volunteers, the children are put on trial next to Count Olaf, but things turn ugly as two of the judges turn out to be evil. The children once again have to plan their getaway and fast. The plot in this novel is substandard, nothing too dramatic happens; this novel was more of filler for what’s to come, and how this series will ultimately end. The reader learns that everyone in the past novels all had a part to play, and that they’re all involved with V.F.D. The characters were written better in this novel, especially Sunny, for a baby she didn’t do anything too extreme to make her character seem unrealistic. Overall, it’s worth the read to find out about old characters, and to get more clues as to what will happen next.

Book Thirteen:

The End
The End

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The End by: Lemony Snicket: The thirteenth and finale novel in the Baudelaire lives. Everything comes to a end when the children end up on an island where the leader, Ishmael, is trying to keep the evils of the world away from the island so the people there can feel safe. When the children learn of the truths of the island, and Ishmael, they decide to stay, even when everyone is forced to leave due to a poison that has been released. In this finale novel, the Baudelaire’s learn about their parents, and all the schisms in the world. They now have to figure out how to live in the world alone, and take care of each other. The novel doesn’t feel very concluding, but the novels could go on forever if there wasn’t an end point. The novel could have ended better, there are still questions surrounding all the mysteries regarding V.F.D, leaving the reader confused. Nothing is really summed up nicely , everything is sort of left up to the reader to determine, which would be fine if the reader didn’t have so many questions. The novel was still engaging and enjoyable to read.  The characters have grown up so much since the first novel, and it was nice to watch them grow, even though it was through unfortunate events. Overall, it was a mediocre ending to a very long series, that had the time to explain things, but chose not to.

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5 thoughts on “Review: A Series of Unfortunate Events

  1. I absolute adore Series of Unfortunate Events. Lemony Snicket is definitely in my top 5 authors list. Have you read his new series All the Wrong Questions? I would definitely recommend them!

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