Book Review: The Bad Beginning (Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1)

The Bad Beginning

Lemony Snicket

Scholastic Inc, 1999

Plot Summary

The Bad Beginning is about the three young Baudelaire children:  Sunny, an aggressive two year-old, Klaus, a well-read eleven year-old, and Violet, an inventive fourteen year-old.  Although the children are intelligent and clever, they find that unfortunate things continuously happen to them.  At the beginning of the book, they are told by their family’s lawyer, Mr. Poe, that their parents have tragically died in a terrible fire and that they must be relocated to a relative who will watch over them.  Unfortunately, the relative they are relocated with, Count Olaf, is a very cruel man and only after a large fortune they were left when their parents died. The children are not allowed access to this fortune until Violet is of age.  After being forced to do many strenuous tasks by Count Olaf, and realizing that he is evil, the orphans visit Mr. Poe. Poe offers them no help and refuses to acknowledge the fact that Count Olaf is evil, and out to get their fortune.

The day after they visit Mr. Poe, Count Olaf tells the orphans they will participate in a play with his theater troupe.  Using the pretense that the orphans will settle in with him, they are forced to participate in his work.   Klaus,  reading  law books provided by their kind neighbor, Justice Strauss, realizes that Count Olaf has very sneaky intentions and tries to stop him.  But it is too late, for Count Olaf has taken Sunny captive in his personal chambers,  and refuses to free her till the orphans carry through with his plans.  With their sister’s safety on the line, it seems evident that Klaus and Violet will be forced to go through with Count Olaf’s scheme.


I found all of the adults in this series, at least for the first 11 books, to be wicked or idiotic.  This forces the Baudelaire children to fend for themselves more often than not, and can lead to a mindset with younger children that adults are incapable and not to be trusted which contradicts a Biblical view of authority.


Christian Analyzation/ Age Appropriateness/Readability

I would recommend this book to anyone older than 11 years old because of a poor attitude toward authoritative characters in the series, as well as some maltreatment of the orphans and the rather disheartening nature of the series.

 Final Thoughts

I did not enjoy this book as much as I hoped I would, mainly because of how completely senseless all of the adults in the series are.  As the series progresses, the orphans begin to fend for themselves, which I enjoyed slightly more. I thought this book was wittingly written, but I  won’t be reading it again anytime soon.


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