There are, as the title suggests and the author repeatedly warns, a lot of unfortunate
events that happen to and around the Baudelaire children (Violet, 14; Klaus,
12; and Sunny, an infant), but there are many fortunate events as well, some
by chance and some from a combination of resourcefulness and teamwork among
These books read a bit like comic books or cartoons in that the characters
are a bit larger than life and each is defined by one primary characteristic
that helps the children out of difficult situations time after time. Violet
is an inventor, Klaus is a researcher, and Sunny has great teeth for biting
through things. The children's characters stay mostly static throughout the
books, which is amazing in light of what's happen
ing to them but also somewhat
reassuring to the reader who fears for them.
But it's Lemony Snicket (the pen name of the author and also the narrator character)'s
light touch and relatively calm tone—veering away from catastrophic events to discuss,
for instance, the difference between what a character meant to convey and what
the other characters understood from it, or to explain what an idiom meant specifically
in this situation—that really makes these books worth reading.
Just to let you know, The Bad Beginning is really a warm-up book for
Mr. Snicket—I recommend reading it, but then picking up further books in
the series. Some of the later books are better, in my opinion.