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

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  260,274 Ratings  ·  10,242 Reviews
Dear Reader,

I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing o
Paperback, 176 pages
Published September 30th 1999 by Scholastic, Inc.
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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)
Emma Clark It isn't a BAD book......though if you expect something where the main characters have everything and are super happy then maybe. The book gets better…moreIt isn't a BAD book......though if you expect something where the main characters have everything and are super happy then maybe. The book gets better as tthe series progresses.....overall this is a very good book!
The only annoying thing is everything is explained so it kinda feels like a dictionary......(less)
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Best Young Adult Books
36th out of 10,431 books — 70,733 voters
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The BOOK was BETTER than the MOVIE
40th out of 1,355 books — 17,852 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 04, 2013 Chris rated it did not like it
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
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
Jul 14, 2016 Lola Reviewer rated it really liked it

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
Melissa Martin
Aug 25, 2016 Melissa Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, childrens
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
Feb 25, 2008 Lizziegolightly rated it it was amazing
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
J.G. Keely
Jul 28, 2011 J.G. Keely rated it it was ok
Shelves: humor, novel, reviewed, america
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
Brian Yahn
May 19, 2016 Brian Yahn rated it really liked it
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
Nov 22, 2011 Monk rated it really liked it
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
Mark Lawrence
Sep 29, 2015 Mark Lawrence rated it really liked it
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
Mar 09, 2014 Ariel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This was fantastic! I read the series when I was a kid and then just now had to reread it for my Children's Lit class! And I'm glad I did! Because eff yeah! This! IS! GREAT!

Daniel Handler/Lemony Snicket has such a distinctive tone and writing style, and it's one that I love. He's sarcastic and realistic and cynical and hilarious. Best of all, even though this is absolutely a children's book it treats the reader (who is technically supposed to be a child) as an intelligent human who is capable of
Tea Jovanović
Apr 11, 2013 Tea Jovanović rated it it was amazing
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
April (Aprilius Maximus)
Jul 25, 2015 April (Aprilius Maximus) rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
so depressing omg
Jason Koivu
Apr 18, 2012 Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing
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
Shannon (leaninglights)
This is entertaining but definitely not my cup of tea. The ending definitely pulls you in though!
Sep 09, 2015 Riley rated it really liked it
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!
Aug 02, 2015 Chloe rated it liked it
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!
Jul 21, 2007 Millie rated it it was amazing
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
Richard Denney
Mar 11, 2016 Richard Denney rated it really liked it


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
Apr 28, 2015 Carmen rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 13, 2007 fleegan rated it it was ok
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
Anzu The Great Destroyer
Jun 08, 2012 Anzu The Great Destroyer rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 22, 2016 Lauren rated it it was amazing
The show is coming to Netflix and it looks awesome!


The highest review currently showing on my feed is a one star review by an adult who has no children. He read books meant for middle schoolers and found them so bad he hoped to have the opportunity to physically torture the author. Oookkkay....

Well I'm currently reading this series with my daughter and we are delighted with it.

There is a strong mystery element that improves as the books go along. My daughter loves this aspect and is con
Mar 29, 2009 Natalia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, audiobook, library
I remember being a kid, and feeling powerless in an adult world. where adults acted in ways that seemed inexplicable and capricious to me at the time. I enjoyed this book as a caricature of that feeling, exaggerated to an entertaining degree.

I think the fact that I listened to the audiobook read by Tim Curry increased my enjoyment of the book. I got the impression it was really intended to be enjoyed out loud, and they couldn't have picked a better narrator. (Though I did find myself waiting for
Mar 10, 2013 Rowena rated it really liked it
Quick, entertaining book with smart kids and clueless adults. I wish I'd read this when I was a child.
Jul 16, 2008 Suzanne rated it did not like it
Shelves: eye-gougers
Ugh. Rarely have I read a book so artificial, trite and purposefully unpleasant. I do like Edward Gorey, so I thought that the allusive title would be more in the spirit of the weird and delightfully obscure. However, I found this book to be calculated and unoriginal, with nothing of whimsy or genuine strangeness. In addition, it was clumsily written in a deliberately stilted style none the more charming for being intentional. I don't entirely understand the popularity of this series, but suspec ...more
Nov 11, 2015 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tim Curry is a fantastic narrator.
Nicay │  The Nerdy side of a Queen

Review originally posted at The Nerdy side of a queen

“If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.”

I’m also warning you, if you still want to read my review without regret, just continue; but if you have hesitations, better stop after the period. (.)

Oh gosh! You are still reading this?! Well, I guess I need to keep forward to this review. A series of unfortunate events by Lemony Snicket was told through how the Bauldelaire siblings’ fa
Brendon Schrodinger
Nov 17, 2015 Brendon Schrodinger rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens
My partner loves these books and has been urging me to read them for years now. Unlike me, the science nerd, she is a word nerd, and I guess I can see her attraction to the book. But I think it was lost on me.

If you have no idea of what's going on, and I presume that I am one of the last people on the planet other than some isolated tribes in Papua New Guinea to know the story, three children are suddenly orphaned and sent to live with a distant relative who is a Count. He is a classic evil vill
It was a nice and entertaining read and exactly what I expected from it. Works great as a refreshing read in between the larger books I'm reading right now.
Kimberley doruyter
Jul 08, 2015 Kimberley doruyter rated it really liked it
i loved the movie and have wanted to read the books for a while.
and i'm not one bit dissapointed.
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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:

For All The Wrong Questions:
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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“ know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.” 2342 likes
“I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.” 1975 likes
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