The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket


My Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3.5/5

Author: Lemony Snicket

Genre: YA, Gothic Fiction


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 on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket



“I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.”


This book is about three orphans whose parents die. A family friend named Arthur Poe finds them a new guardian named Count Olaf, and he transpires to try to steal their fortune. It isn’t very long until Count Olaf devises a plan to marry the eldest, Violet, in his play, and the orphans try to stop him with each of their unique talents.

There is one really big significant symbol in this book… the eye. The eye in many cases may be good or bad in our everyday life, but the eye, in this case, is a horrifying signal to the Baudelaire orphans. When the orphans first meet Count Olaf, they walk through his menacing door, and carved into it is an eye. Better yet when they walk into his dismally somber looking house they see a glimpse of the same eye tattooed on Count Olaf’s ankle. Is it just a coincidence? I don’t think so. Throughout the book, we see that this symbol frightens the children. Not only does he have a room full of pictures of eyes, but Count Olaf’s eyes are a shiny and unnerving emblem of the Baudelaire’s misery living with Count Olaf. This symbol makes them feel like Count Olaf is always watching them, even when he’s not around. It also symbolizes his theater troupe, because without his petrifying troupe he wouldn’t be as powerful as he is. His theater troupe, in other words, are his spies, and they help him with his diabolical crimes. I’m sure the symbol of an eye plays a key part in the rest of the series, but I will have to keep on reading to find out.

The author uses figurative language right as you pick up the book. After all the title The Bad Beginning is alliterative, and so are the rest of his book in this series except the last. So in using figurative language in the title, you can expect that he uses figurative language in the book itself. At one point of the book, the author compares Violet’s mind to the cogs and gears of a clock. In the middle of the book, he compares Count Olaf to a caged animal walking swiftly back and forth. The author definitely uses a lot of figurative language such as simile and alliteration, which overall makes the gloomily fun story fun to read.

When I decided to start reading this story, it was so I could compare the new Netflix Original Series to the books next year. Before I started reading this book, in particular, I had already read it in sixth grade. So I decided to why not read the entire series that everyone raves about. So, in my opinion, this book was great. Even though on the back cover it warns you not to read it, this book combines witty humor with an unforgettable gloomy storyline to create a short but sweet reading ride.



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