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The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1)

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3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  273,640 Ratings  ·  11,303 Reviews
Imagine tales so terrible that as many as fifty million innocents have been ruined by them - tales so indelibly horrid that the New York Times bestseller list has been unable to rid itself of them for seven years. Now imagine if this scourge suddenly became available in a shameful new edition so sensational, so irresistible, so riddled with lurid new pictures that even a c ...more
ebook, 176 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by HarperCollins (first published September 30th 1999)
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Lucia I don't know. As a kid, I didn't like these. I found them creepy and they went over my head. Now I'm 23 and I found a lot of rather sophisticated…moreI don't know. As a kid, I didn't like these. I found them creepy and they went over my head. Now I'm 23 and I found a lot of rather sophisticated humor and even some depth in it. So...maybe you actually need to be older?! (Sort of joking. Sort of.)(less)
Madison
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Chris
Dec 04, 2013 Chris rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I am not a violent man. In my lifetime, I have never been in a fight. I've never seriously threatened anyone with violence, never made anyone feel afraid by my physical presence, never even really seriously considered doing violence to another person.

Having said that, the feelings this book evoked in me were... violent.

Not because Lemony Snicket has written a book where terribly unfortunate things happen to small children - I have no problems with that and in fact encourage it; it builds charact
...more
Jesse (JesseTheReader)
*I'm not going to rate this, because I've already read this book & stand by my first rating of it.

I adore this story so much & I'm so happy that I took the time to re-read it. It made me feel SO nostalgic reading it. I can't wait for the netflix series!!
Catriona (LittleBookOwl)
For some reason I had the sudden urge to re-read these books... so I decided to start listening to them on audiobook!
I have the 11th book in a physical copy, but I will eventually be picking the rest of them up as well.
Lola  Reviewer

Poor Baudelaire siblings, life really hasn’t been easy on them these last few days. The misfortune that incessantly befell them was heartbreaking.

But the children are strong, so strong, and intelligent, and brave. They don’t have anyone else in the world but each other.

I fell for them as deeply as I fell for A Little Princess’ Sarah. How could we as readers not, after beholding such tragedy?

Because the orphans are so likeable, which led me to care for them and their future, I never wanted to st
...more
Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin
If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle. This is because not very many happy things happened in the lives of the three Baudelaire youngsters. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire were intelligent children, and they were charming, and resourceful, and had pleasant facial features, but they were extremely unlucky, and most ...more
Cait (Paper Fury)
This series was my ENTIRE LIFE when I was a small human child. I saved any and all money I received to buy the books (my first collection of matching hardcovers) and listened to them on cassette tape (OKAY GUESS WHO JUST SOUNDS OLD RIGHT NOW) when I wasn't re-reading the physical copies. Hello I even intended to become a famous author myself and write under the pseudonym "Orange Peel" because obviously. So yes. I am a mild fan right here. And I decided I had to reread before the Netflix series c ...more
J.G. Keely
So the premise of this book (as the narrator keeps helpfully reminding us) is that this group of three children will continue to have difficult problems to overcome, and every time they succeed in dealing with one problem, another will crop up. In the writing business, this is what's known as 'a plot'.

But then he takes it one step further: in addition to all the difficulties along the way, he assures us that the characters will never break this pattern, and there will be no 'happy ending'. I thi
...more
Mark Lawrence
Nov 20, 2016 Mark Lawrence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm reading through this series with my daughter Celyn (10 years old, very disabled, hence Dad does the reading).

Edit: Finished & reviewed all 13!

So, this is a clever, entertaining book set in a world like ours but populated with bizarre characters and with distinctly dark undercurrents.

Recurring themes throughout the series are:

i) Adults are mindbogglingly stupid.

ii) The narrator, Lemony Snicket, is a character we glimpse in tantalising snatches.

iii) Words that stretch a child's vocabulary
...more
Lizziegolightly
Feb 25, 2008 Lizziegolightly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was a child, I learned a thing or two from reading the works of Roald Dahl. The most important of these lessons is that adults are, more often than not, either evil or oblivious and, to co-opt Lemony Snicket's writing style, by oblivious I mean "lacking conscious awareness; unmindful."

As an adult, I have only received mountains of proof substantiating the notion that adults are either evil or oblivious. All you need to do is watch the news or enter the workforce and you too will realize t
...more
Tea Jovanović
Must read! Must read! Dve godine sam jurila informaciju ko drži prava, šetali me od jednog do drugog da bih na kraju sjurila samog Lemoni Sniketa na jednom javnom čitanju/druženju s čitaocima u knjižari Barnes & Noble u Njujorku davne 2002. godine i doživela nesvakidašnje iskustvo... Oko dvestotinjak dece (i njihovih roditelja) sedelo je na podu/stajalo i naizmenično se smejalo ili vrištalo i plakalo na Sniketove imitacije/interpretacije... Kako su deca nekada reagovala na Branka Kockicu sam ...more
Brian Yahn
May 19, 2016 Brian Yahn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easily one of the best children's stories I've read, The Bad Beginning is a high stakes, whimsical twist of a fairytale.

Count Olaf, the antagonist, ruins everything, but in a way that's super fun to read. As the stakes pile on, and bad luck for the main characters becomes the worst luck, and the tension reaches an all time high, the writing still maintains this playful even keel to keep everything fun and enjoyable.

It had me tearing through pages to see just how bad the beginnings got. And I lov
...more
Monk
Nov 22, 2011 Monk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those Who Missed The Potter Bus
I never really did get into Harry Potter. I imagine that this is viewed as a crime by most everyone on this service. For some it is heresy. But, I refuse to stand shamefaced - Hogwarts just didn't do it for me.

I didn't think this would either.

However, I was more than pleasantly surprised. I am of a somewhat morbid streak, and the Series of Unfortunate Events books, I must say, tickles that grotesque bone in a way most pleasing.

The story of the Baudelaire Children is one filled with tragedy and d
...more
Lindsey Rey
Jan 14, 2017 Lindsey Rey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade, 2017
Even better the second time around!
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
I think a 3.5 about sums up my feelings. This was a joy (or as Lemony Snicket would prefer, a misery) to reread. I haven't read this book in more than 10 years, so there were a lot of details I had forgotten, but I still love the Baudelaire siblings and how terrifying and sinister Count Olaf still is to me. It is written for younger audiences than the books I usually read, of course, so I might be basing a tiny bit of my rating on nostalgia, but I still loved the experience of getting back into ...more
Anuradha
To Beatrice-darling, dearest, dead.

If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle.

I think it is important how a book starts, because that sets the tone for the rest of the book. I myself have been guilty of prematurely-"prematurely" here means "before the time is appropriate"- judging the quality of a book based on its be
...more
Josu
Jan 17, 2017 Josu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-1-enero
Ayyyy, me ha gustado mucho.

El primer libro de la saga Una serie de catastróficas desdichas (en inglés A Series of Unfortunate Events) me ha conquistado lo suficiente como para hacer la loca inversión de seguir leyendo la saga -y digo loca porque son 13 libros cortos con precios variables entre unos y otros.

Lemony Snicket me ha enamorado con su estilo... ¿o debería decir Daniel Handler? En cualquier caso, ha sido una novela con la que he estado entusiasmado mientras la leía. Cuando la dejaba, que
...more
April (Aprilius Maximus)
so depressing omg
Jason Koivu
Apr 18, 2012 Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jason by: The Magnetic Fields
Shelves: fiction
Made for kids, but adults like it too! The Bad Beginning is one of those kids' books that doesn't try to "talk down" to their level. Yes, it breaks the 4th wall and assists the reader with more advanced words, often for comedic purposes, but it never feels like the drudgery of a school lesson. This first book in the series concisely sets up the sympathetic main characters and their dilemna, pits them against their colorful arch enemy and sweeps you up in the saga straight away. A most excellent ...more
Kate (GirlReading)
People have always told me that this was a dark series, but I didn't expect it to be this dark! This is a children's book series?! :') It was great, I really enjoyed it!! I can't wait to carry on with this series, which to be honest, I wasn't expecting to feel! It was such an interesting, short and quick read and thankfully didn't traumatise me or scar me for life like the movie did at eight years old...
Lauren
UPDATE 19/Jan/2017

4 Stars!!!!

I am updating my reviews for all the books in the series because I realized that they are much better than I initially thought. After a while, I realized I really did like this book and it's very unique. I know I still would have liked it more as a child but I still really like it now. It's so sad and that's what makes it different because it's not all happy. In life, not everything works out.


UPDATE 10/Dec/2016

3.5 stars

The more I think about it I've realised this bo
...more
Riley
Sep 09, 2015 Riley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first time I have reread this since the first time I read the series. I listened to the audiobook for this and loved it!
Tilly Booth
Dec 05, 2016 Tilly Booth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You haven't read The Series of Unfortunate Events before? You gasp!

No...Well, YES. I have now! Sort of...I've read The Bad Beginning and why did no one tell me how much fun these books were?! It's a quick read that has the right amount of everything. Horror, deception, dark humour, a riveting storyline and very, very bright children.

You all probably know what it's about though. I'm just late to the party. I can now officially jam son the bandwagon for the NETFLIX SERIES THOUGH!!! The excitemen
...more
Shannon (leaninglights)
This is entertaining but definitely not my cup of tea. The ending definitely pulls you in though!
Chloe
Aug 02, 2015 Chloe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this for booktubeathon!
I wasn't expecting this book to be as creepy as it was, if I read this when I was younger I would have been terrified!
Carmen
Apr 28, 2015 Carmen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone and Everyone
What can I say? These books are amazing. Lemony Snicket does not dumb things down for children, and for that I am eternally grateful. He uses great words in this book, such as: insipid, aberrant, declaim, predicament, Molotov cocktails, incur, adroit, relinquish, nuptial, posthaste, in loco parentis, and mulctuary. Most of these words are explained in a great, kid-friendly way. A few are not, and that's when the child reaches for his/her dictionary. This is a great way of teaching children new w ...more
Millie
Jul 21, 2007 Millie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love the entire Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events. This book came out at the most opportune time to offer an alternative to the saccharine niceness of the abysmally ubiquitous Harry Potter, and thank goodness for that (I'm sure the monolithic HP franchise inspired, at least in part, the conception of Lemony Snicket, Count Olaf and the Baudelaires). The writing style encourages readers to question language and the function language plays in our lives while describing the ill-fated liv ...more
fleegan
Aug 13, 2007 fleegan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I know this is a popular series and all, but frankly, I just don't see the charm. I do like that there's lots of vocabulary lessons in the book, but I don't like that the book is basically about child abuse. No, really. You want to write a kid's book? Fine. You want to write a kid's book about child abuse? Fine. Great even. But for the love, abuse is a serious thing, m'kay? And? AND? THE PART WHERE THE EVIL, GREEDY UNCLE TRIES TO MARRY THE 14 YEAR OLD ORPHAN GIRL?! EW! HELLO?! MR. SNICKET, ...more
Sarah
Jan 17, 2017 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, 2017, childrens
3.5ish Stars.

I have absolutely no idea whether I read these books as a kid or not. I read so many books when I was in primary school and I figure I must have at least read a few of these but for the life of me, I can't be sure. When I was reading this book a few days ago, the story felt so familiar to me but that could be down to watching the movie a bunch of times! Regardless, I am quite enjoying reading this series. I'm reading the first 4 books before I binge-watch the Netflix show!

The stor
...more
Richard Denney
Mar 11, 2016 Richard Denney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 STARS

description

Now that was fun… and dark and mess up. I loved it. Am I evil for liking stories where children get fucked over? I am lol I just love dark middle grade too much. #sorrynotsorry

I remember picking up this book in middle school, reading the first few pages and then putting it down. Ever since, I passed these books time after time in stores and libraries and never thought to pick the first book up again… until now.

Everyone knows what this book is about so I don’t feel the need to explain it
...more
Anzu The Great Destroyer
Jun 08, 2012 Anzu The Great Destroyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bullies dressed in pink pyjamas
To Beatrice-- darling, dearest, dead.

Wait. What??

Ever since I watched the Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, I've been dying to read the book. Yes, I know I probably loved the movie so much because of Jim Carrey (huge fan). I mean look at him! How can you NOT love it??









I wish the Count Olaf in the book was as funny as Carrey’s version in the movie.

Anyhow, I was sure the original story should be good, and I’m glad I was not proven wrong. I loved everything about the book minus the
...more
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Lemony Snicket had an unusual education and a perplexing youth and now endures a despondent adulthood. His previous published works include the thirteen volumes in A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Composer is Dead, and 13 Words. His new series is All The Wrong Questions.

For A Series of Unfortunate Events:
www.lemonysnicket.com

For All The Wrong Questions:
www.lemonysnicketlibrary.com
More about Lemony Snicket...

Other Books in the Series

A Series of Unfortunate Events (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #2)
  • The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #3)
  • The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #4)
  • The Austere Academy (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #5)
  • The Ersatz Elevator (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #6)
  • The Vile Village (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #7)
  • The Hostile Hospital (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #8)
  • The Carnivorous Carnival (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #9)
  • The Slippery Slope (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #10)
  • The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #11)

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“...you know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.” 2396 likes
“I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.” 2005 likes
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