Today I bring my first review of a children’s novel! How exciting! Here it is, the first volume of A Series Of Unfortunate Events, The Bad Beginning (pt. Uma Série de Desgraças, Mau Começo), by Lemony Snicket.
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For some of you A Series Of Unfortunate Event might be a childhood series! But Lemony Snicket, at least to my understanding, was never that popular here in Portugal. I firstly was introduced to his work by the 2004 movie, with the same name. At the time, I really enjoyed it but didn’t realize it was based on real books. Some time after that, I started to hear a lot about Lemony Snicket’s work but, once again, didn’t pick the books. A year ago, I saw the movie again for a class and set my mind to read the books! Of course my long TBR pile dragged my plans a little back and only now I got a time to read the first volume. Almost ten years of delay but hey!, better late than never!
Lemony Snicket is the pen name of Daniel Handler, an american writer born in 1970. Besides what most people know, he is also a fictional character, having even an “unauthorised” biography. Snicket is notoriously known for his very funny and intelligent remarks.
The Bad Beginning, as the first novel of a series, starts by introducing the main characters. Violet, Klaus and Sunny are the three Baudelaire children. Unfortunately, one day, their parents perish in a house fire, leaving them orphans. As they have no direct family members, they are left at the house of a distant distant cousin, Count Olaf. He ends up being a terrible and conniving person, with the most elaborate and crazy schemes to put his hands on the Baudelaire fortune.
This book was really what I expected it to be! There’s certain “kids” books that you know from the start that are not written in a childish way. This is just like that. To balance the heavy recurring subject of death and many unfortunate events, there’s a lot of subtle humour. The jokes aren’t forced: they come exactly when they are needed and never are too much. Everything that happens to that children is absolutely terrible and the atmosphere feels, most times, very heavy. Those little jokes and glimpses of happiness are so refreshing and hopeful.
All the characters are very rich and complex but, to be honest, my favourite was by far the narrator. He is funny and has tons of wit. Every time a complicated word or expression comes up, he promptly explains and integrates it with the plot. He does that too with more common expressions, just for the sake of comedy. But the reason why I loved it the most was how much attention he gives to the reader. We are constantly given attention, whether it is to prevent us from some of the future events on the story or to share something of his own life. It feels so personal! It’s marvellous.
This book is from one of my local libraries, as you might have noticed from the tag on the book. Unfortunately, there are only available the first three volumes of a series of thirteen. As much as I would love to continue to read the series, I probably won’t due to that, which is kind of sad since I quite enjoyed this first one. If I end up reading more books, I’ll let you guys know!
If you’re into adult books disguised as a children’s book, this is the title for you! Heavy but super funny and enjoyable nevertheless. Now I want to discover more titles from Lemony Snicket. Have you read anything by him? If so, what do you recommend?
Here’s one of the amazing quotes you can find in this book:
The way sadness works is one of the strange riddles of the world. If you are stricken with a great sadness, you may feel as if you have been set aflame, not only because of the enormous pain, but also because your sadness may spread over your life, like smoke from an enormous fire. You might find it difficult to see anything but your own sadness, the way smoke can cover a landscape so that all anyone can see is black. You may find that if someone pours water all over you, you are damp and distracted, but not cured of your sadness, the way a fire department can douse a fire but never recover what has been burnt down.
Thank you tuning in guys! I hope you had a wonderful day.