Monday, June 27, 2005

The First 11 of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket

Title: The First 11 of A Series of Unfortunate Events
Author: Lemony Snicket
Rating: Good

I just read The Bad Beginning and I quite enjoyed it.

It was a fun, quick read, and it certainly isn't the typical children's book. My wife is ahead of me in the series, but I've heard her laughing out loud while reading the later volumes.

These books are clearly targeted at a younger age group than (say) the Harry Potter books, and that gives them a different feel and pace then that (deservedly) wildly successful series. Because of their subject matter, they may also be a bit more challenging. (Discussing having one's parents die in a fire might be tough for some people, for example.) Never-the-less, I think that kids who read at least the The Bad Beginning will be better off in the fullness of time. Exposure to all kinds of ideas is important, and these are fun.

Perhaps you need a certain cynical point of view to find these funny and (in an odd way) validating. Regardless, I am now starting volume 2, and I'll keep on reading unless they change in some fundamental way.

... time passes ...

I have since gone on to read all 11 of the available books. (Actually, I haven't looked for a new book in some time, and I don't know when #12 is due out. I'll have to check on that.)

What I can say in general about Lemony Snicket is the following:
  • They are targeted at pre-teen readers, in general.
  • My niece and nephew - ages 7 and 8 - are dying to read them. Last I talked to my sister in law, that was due to get rolling any day now.
  • I quite enjoyed them. In fact, I am on the hook to buy and read the next volumes as they come out, and then send them on to my niece and nephew, who find it very funny that their aunt & uncle want to do that.
  • The books get more complex over time, and the plot thickens and builds, particularly after the first 3 or 4 volumes.
  • I suspect that, somewhat like the Harry Potter books, there is a whole series of hints and clues about events and characters hidden in these books. I don't have the presence of mind to figure them out, but I believe they are there.
I know some people don't like these books, but I found the style amusing and the stories diverting. I hope the author resolves all the various loose ends well by book 13.