The first time I picked up this book, I hadn’t held it for five minutes before I put it down again. It was a silly, tragic tale, I decided, and therefore not worth it. Recently, a total scarcity of reading material prompted me to give it another shot, and it turned out that it had several redeeming qualities.
The protagonists are three orphans- Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire. These characters are extremely likable, due to their charm and resourcefulness. Violet, the eldest is an inventor, whose contraptions deliver them from the clutches of Count Olaf, the greedy relative who plots to steal their fortune. Klaus is an avid reader, who devours books on nearly everything. His extensive knowledge of completely unrelated subjects comes in handy more than once. Sunny, the youngest, is a baby, who enjoys biting hard objects, like carrots, rope, and Count Olaf’ leg.
Another great quality is Lemony Snicket’s narration, which is wonderful. It’s written in an entertaining conversational style, and you can’t help but like him, too.
Count Olaf receives full marks for evil. He is scary and threatening, but not enough to keep anyone up at night, which is appropriate for the story.
But is an unwritten law of creating a fictional character, and it is this: You may put your character up against impossible odds, but they must be given a fighting chance. The circumstances hurled at them are so many, that one can’t help but feel depressed as the villainous Count Olaf once again evades capture. The horrible situations become tedious after awhile, and nothing, not even Snicket’s lively writing can help compensate for the overall hopelessness that pervades the book. And that, is unfortunate indeed.
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