This year, I am re-reading A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, a series which I quite enjoyed when I was younger. As there are 13 books in the series, I am reading one a month right up until December, during which I will be reading the final two in the series.
At the time of writing this little update, I have read the first three books and watched the film which was made based on these. Hopefully, by the time I have finished the series, the Netflix show will have been released so I’ll be able to culminate my re-read with a T.V. marathon of that. But first, here is what I thought of the first three books:
The Bad Beginning – 3/5 stars
Of all the books, this is the one I know the best having read it every time I’ve attempted to restart the series when I was younger. As a result, there was a lot of familiarity but, that being said, rereading it after so many years and knowing the story so well, I did not get as much satisfaction from it as I used to. For starters, while it does make a good start to the series, the writing style takes a lot of getting used to. It comes across as quite patronising in places (although it also seems quite self-aware of being so patronising and subverts it on occasion). It is also quite a disturbing story from an adult’s perspective, particularly Olaf’s final scheme. While the implications of this scheme goes unnoticed by children (I only saw it as more trickery on Olaf’s part), it can make to story all the more scary as an adult. Only the simplistic, easy-to-read writing style counteracts it. That being said, I did still enjoy this book and thought that the siblings were all great fun to read.
The Reptile Room – 2.5/5
I distinctly remember this book being my favourite when I was younger – the snakes, Uncle Monty, Olaf’s evil tricks; I really enjoyed them. This time around, however, I found the book did not quite live up to expectations. This might be because I went into the book knowing that it used to be my favourite, but regardless, I found it took me a long time to get into the story – it took me nearly a week to get even half way. In all honesty, I think I was a little bored. That being said, once I did finally get into the story, it flew by and I found myself rekindling that old love. The misfortunes of the Baudelaire siblings and how they solve the situations they find themselves in continue to entertain.
The Wide Window – 3.5/5
Strangely, this ended up being my favourite of the first three books. This is especially so since I don’t really remember liking it that much back when I first read it. This could potentially be because I had fewer expectations for this book, but also because I have not read this one as frequently. From this point on, I will have only ever read each book once. This is also the first book in the series where a larger, more ominous story-line becomes a bit more prominent. I did enjoy this book, and flew through it. I read it in only a couple of hours and the Baudelaire’s continue to intrigue. That they’re seemingly the only sane and intelligent characters, and the only children, in this world makes it quite an entertaining, yet occasionally frustrating, read.
The Film – 4/5
The film adaption is certainly an under-rated production. I really enjoy watching it and have seen it a number of times. Watching it again while re-reading the series certainly made for an interesting exercise. The overall tone, the children, the script: it all fits very well with the books. The books are short enough to fit into the film without cutting out anything major and, with a little bit of re-ordering of events, it actually made for a fairly cohesive plot. The children were brilliantly cast – Violet, in particular, is exactly how I’ve pictured her from the very start. The only let down for the film was Jim Carrey as Olaf. Count Olaf in the books is a very different entity to the Olaf in the film and I feel like the film’s characterisation ruins him. Carrey plays him in a very over-the-top manner, as a ridiculous oaf who comes across as quite useless. While I appreciate this might have been done to make the film less scary for children, it essentially jars with the rest of the film and takes away the threat. That being said, I do still love the film and the rest of the cast, and the adaption, is phenomenal.
That’s it for my Year of Unfortunate Events update. The next few months will see me reading The Miserable Mill in April, The Austere Academy in May and The Ersatz Elevator in June. I’m really looking forward to seeing what I’ll make of these books as I’ve barely remember what happens in them and given how I’ve found the first three.