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A Series of Unfortunate Events and an Unfortunate Movie Flop?
Three Orphans and a Bleak New World
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Picture this: You are a child playing on the beach with your siblings. An old family friend, the local banker, comes up with the unfortunate news that your parents are both dead, leaving you and your siblings orphans. Now what?
This is the beginning of a new life for the three Baudelaire siblings (Violet, Klaus and Sunny), and it turns out that the death of their parents was the least of their worries. Within hours they go from living in a gorgeous mansion filled with books, inventing tools and plenty of things to chew on (for little Sunny, of course), to a life of being pursued by the villainous Count Olaf. The siblings must use all the ingenuity within their collective minds to escape every scheme Count Olaf throws their way, no matter how terrified they may be.
I discovered this series several years ago, not long after the last books in the series were published. I was immediately interested in the series from page one. The books are written with a curious, biting wit that is often not present in young adult novels. While many young adult writers are careful with how they present situations, often leaving out details they would consider unpleasant for young children, Lemony Snicket does not sugarcoat. In fact, he goes out of his way to make life miserable for his three protagonists even though Sunny, the youngest, is not even three years old.
The series is comprised of thirteen books, which each have thirteen chapters and a letter addressed to his editor enclosed at the very end of the novels. The editor's end letters are just as darkly humorous as the actual stories, detailing the contents of the next novel and precisely where the editor was to acquire the manuscript. Each novel contains illustrations from Brett Helquist, which help the reader more clearly picture the various situations the Baudelaire orphans or their companions are facing.
Because of the popularity of the novels, it was certain that Hollywood would snap up an opportunity to make the series into a movie. In 2004, Brad Silberling adapted the first three books into a movie staring Jim Carrey. The movie received generally positive reviews from critics and won the Academy Award for Best Makeup. However, many diehard fans of the novels such as myself were disappointed that many good details were left out and a major scene from the first novel was seemingly slapped onto the end of the third novel's story just to make a big ending for the movie. As of now, there have not been any major movie attempts after this movie, but Netflix did enter talks for an online television version.
While the series as a whole does have the occasional flaw of shallow secondary characters, the harrowing adventures of these three ingenious orphans is well worth the effort of reading. It makes a great bedtime reading for parents to their kids, or for siblings to read aloud to each other. I have great memories of sitting beside my sister as we each read a chapter before passing the book back and forth.
The entire series is available on Amazon and at most major retailers. If you haven't read them yet, or wish to relive the dark but humorous writing, pick up Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and enjoy the journey!
The Thirteen Novels
Book the First: The Bad Beginning
Book the Second: The Reptile Room
Book the Third: The Wide Window
Book the Forth: The Miserable Mill
Book the Fifth: The Austere Academy
Book the Sixth: The Ersatz Elevator
Book the Seventh: The Vile Village
Book the Eighth: The Hostile Hospital
Book the Ninth: The Carnivorous Carnival
Book the Tenth: The Slippery Slope
Book the Eleventh: The Grim Grotto
Book the Twelfth: The Penultimate Peril
Book the Thirteenth: The End