The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 2) Review
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Unabridged recording
3 CDs (3 hours, 11 minutes)

See? What did I tell you? After seeing the movie version of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, I was strangely drawn to the books. So as I prepared for a 10-hour road trip to visit my family, I rushed out to pick up the first two books on CD.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

Book the Second of A Series of Unfortunate Events picks up where the first book, The Bad Beginning left off. After a short recap of the first book, the mysterious Mr. Snicket tells the continuing story of the three Baudelaire orphans—Violet (14), the inventor, Klaus (12), the reader, and Sunny (just a baby), the biter—whose parents were killed when their house burned down. After escaping the evil Count Olaf, the children are brought to meet their new guardian, Uncle Monty, a herpetologist (“herpetologist,” meaning that he studies snakes). Life with Uncle Monty is a high point in the children’s unfortunate lives. They’re allowed to read and study and invent and bite—and Uncle Monty takes them to the movies every night. But, unfortunately, that changes when Uncle Monty’s assistant, Gustave, who’s supposed to accompany them on a trip to Peru, resigns unexpectedly—and he’s replaced by Stefano, who isn’t really Stefano but Count Olaf in disguise.

As I suspected, The Reptile Room is an absolute pleasure to read. It’s definitely grim—filled with deadly snakes and murder. And the author repeatedly warns his readers that it’s only going to get worse. But the tone is still entertaining and darkly humorous—not to mention exceptionally clever. And while the subject matter may be a little scary to children who have become used to pleasant stories with happy endings, they may just learn a thing or two along the way—since Snicket often takes time out from the story to explain certain words and expressions.

The audio recording, narrated by Tim Curry, is a great way to pass a few lonely hours on the road. Be warned, however, that you might want to bring the caffeinated beverage of your choice, since Curry’s voice tends to be soothing and even entrancing at times. Curry was, however, an excellent choice for narrator. He does a wonderful job of portraying the characters (though Mr. Poe's constant hacking cough is somewhat disturbing and distracting)—in a tone that seems to be exactly as the author intended.

I can’t wait for my next road trip—I’ll definitely be picking up Book 3.

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