Flashback Friday: “A Series of Unfortunate Events”

Shadin Al-Dossari ‘18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

There has been quite a bit of buzz around Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events books lately on account of the Netflix adaptation releasing in January. So now is the perfect time to cram in a re-read of Snicket’s unique book series.

A Series of Unfortunate Events is a series of thirteen novels that follow the three Baudelaire siblings after they become orphans. From there they are placed with Count Olaf, a distant relative, and one of the best book villains. Olaf is a greedy crook who only wants to steal the Baudelaire’s money. The subsequent books follow the schemes Olaf cooks up to try and capture the siblings after they run away. In each book, Olaf dons a new disguise and commits some sort of crime in order to get his hands on the Baudelaire’s fortune.

At the same time, Snicket includes elements and characters that give a mysterious vibe to the whole series. Additionally, some say the series qualifies as mystery books for children, as Snicket drops sometimes blatant, sometimes hidden clues of what is to come. Each book is narrated by a character called Lemony Snicket who adds touches of dark humor to a bleak story. One of the most unique things about Snicket’s writing style is the continual use of unusual words that wouldn’t normally belong in a children’s book. Snicket frequently explains the meanings of high vocabulary words; this just makes the series all the more interesting and great for young people.

With plot twists every chapter, Snicket keeps readers on their toes, and the continuously perilous tales of the Baudelaire siblings make it impossible to put the books down. This is one of the reasons many people consider this series to be so iconic. Throughout the series, the siblings go to adults for help, but they all seem oblivious to the dangerous reality that the children face. For a child reading this series, that aspect would be entertaining, but some say Snicket also uses the series as a social commentary of sorts.

Although some argue the ridiculousness of the stories, with titles such as The Vile Village, The Carnivorous Carnival, and The Miserable Mill, each book contains dark adventures that never leave the reader bored. A new adventure in each book keeps the series original and fresh. Though originally intended to be a children’s book series, people of all ages have enjoyed A Series of Unfortunate Events. Snicket embeds witty comments that often go over children’s heads but, during re-readings of the books in later years, can be appreciated more fully.

The first book, The Bad Beginning debuted in 1999, and the final book, The End, was released in 2006. Yet the entertainment factor has continued with the 2017 Netflix series.

After the 2004 Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events movie, many people had mixed feelings about the adaptation, and surely the new Netflix series will bring about passionate fan reactions as well. All fans can agree though that, no matter how the adaption goes, the Baudelaire’s story will always live on in the pages of Snicket’s books.


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