Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Series Review: The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

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The Series of Unfortunate Events is one series of books that will forever be held dear in my heart. It was a favorite of mine growing up and, with the recent Netflix series (which looks to be continuing in the coming months), it is as relevant as ever.
The series follow the misfortunes of the Baudelaire orphans as they are sent from guardian to guardian, as they try to uncover the mysterious circumstances that led to their parents’ deaths, and as they attempt to outwit the nefarious Count Olaf, who wants to get his greedy hands on the Baudelaire fortune.
  • INCREDIBLY FUN AND FANTASTICAL - Every kid likes to read stories about courageous and plucky orphans and this series is perfect for that desire. While the story seems somewhat anachronistic, there are some modern elements mixed with retro elements that make the story feel very timeless and fantastic.
  • GROWING UP WITH THE BAUDELAIRES - One reason this series hit me so hard is that I got to grow older with the Baudelaires. The series gets increasingly complicated and the orphans encounter new emotions and situations as they go. In the final books, I felt like I could understand some of the more mature situations the orphans get into (such as first love). There are 13 books, so any child can have the opportunity of slowly growing old with the Baudelaire orphans if they don’t read the entire series in a week.
  • NOT CONDESCENDING - This is probably what I most appreciate about Snicket’s books - he has a gift for explaining complicated words and ideas in simple, memorable (and humorous) ways. Don’t know the word he just used? No problem - there is a very contextually-specific definition included in the next sentence. Don’t understand the feeling he’s just referenced? Not to worry - he’s described it in a perfectly relatable way. These books make children feel like they can handle complicated emotions and topics.

  • TERRIBLY SAD - As a child, I didn’t notice this as much, but watching the series as an adult has made me realize how truly awful these books are. Where are social services and child protective services? What for some kids may be fun and ridiculous can be heartbreaking for others.
  • ALL THE ADULTS SUCK - Adults are either evil or incompetent in these books. The few adults who are kind and able to adequately help the children end up dying in the end. This could fall somewhat into the “kids like to read plucky orphan stories” section, except that I feel it’s a negative things. Children (even if they like orphan stories) need to be able to trust the capable adults in their life.

What pros and cons would you add for this series? What crowd would you recommend it to? What are your thoughts on these books?


  1. I thought about re-reading this when the TV show came out, but even without a re-read, I realized how sad it was in retrospect! It bothered me a lot less as a child too.

    1. It's so much more difficult to watch as an adult - you were probably wise to leave it for the time being.

  2. haha! Great review! I just love this series. I absolutely LOVE "Lemony Snickets" humor and writing style. I especially love when he goes off seemingly on a tangent but then seamlessly moves back into the story.

    1. Yes! He excels at that. I hear he's written some newer YA books that did not have nearly as good of a voice as his first series.