BRIEF SYNOPSIS: When their parents die, three children live with their closest relative, Count Olaf, who’s sole purpose in life is to cheat the children out of their inheritance.
PROS: Very neat idea; great illustrations, somewhat reminiscent of Edward Gorey; story is educational, as it teaches vocabulary to younger readers.
CONS: Rather weak ending.
BOTTOM LINE: Overall a fun read. The ending was a little weak, but I hadn’t much time invested in the book, so it didn’t bother me much
A Bad Beginning is the first of a long series of books by Lemony Snicket (whose name rocks, by the way) called A Series of Unfortunate Events.
On the very first page of the book the author warns the reader that if it’s a happy story he’s looking for, he should look elsewhere. For this story does not have a happy beginning or ending, and nothing much happy happens in the middle.
This opening, and the fact that the book is a soon-to-be-released film starring Jim Carrey were enough reasons for me to steal it from Austen’s bookshelf and read it on the plane this weekend.
How, I wondered, could a whole series of books with unhappy endings be so successful? I won’t give away how, but after finishing the book the formula became quite clear to me, and I congratulate the author (or publisher) on his/its cleverness.
The story uses some big words for a childrens’ book, but follows each of these words up with its definition in easy-to-understand terms, and in this way teaches vocabulary to younger readers.
I give the story itself an average 2.5 stars, but as mentioned, the illustrations are quite good, and so I added a star for that. They are somewhat reminiscent of the incomparable, late Edward Gorey (Mystery!) of whom I am a fan. (BTW – while trolling for Gorey just now, I found this awesome Gorey TTF font.) If you’re a fontaholic, you’ll want to get this one.