Publication Date: September 1999
Audio Book Duration: 2 hours 28 minutes
Genre: Children’s fiction / Fantasy
Make no mistake. The Bad Beginning begins badly for the three Baudelaire children, and then gets worse. Their misfortunes begin one gray day on Briny Beach when Mr. Poe tells them that their parents perished in a fire that destroyed their whole house.
“It is useless for me to describe to you how terrible Violet, Klaus, and even Sunny felt in the time that followed,” laments the personable (occasionally pedantic) narrator, who tells the story as if his readers are gathered around an armchair on pillows. But of course what follows is dreadful.
The children thought it was bad when the well-meaning Poes bought them grotesque-colored clothing that itched. But when they are ushered to the dilapidated doorstep of the miserable, thin, unshaven, shiny-eyed, money-grubbing Count Olaf, they know that they–and their family fortune–are in real trouble. Still, they could never have anticipated how much trouble.
This is the first audio book I’ve ever “read” till the end! Hurray!
I usually get distracted with the world around me when listening to audio books, so I find it hard to follow the story, but yesterday as I sat down to work on my handmade accessories I decided to give audio books another try. After all, there aren’t that many distractions on my desk (apart from the Minions Tic Tacs! They’re amazing!).
About the story… I had already watched the film so I knew what to expect from this book. It was creepy and inventive, just like the film.
Keeping in mind that this is a children’s book series, the story is engaging and flows really well, but if you’re used to adult books then you shouldn’t expect it to be a thrilling masterpiece. This series really is aimed at children (but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it as well, right?).
The first book in the series, The Bad Beginning, introduces the 3 Baudelaire children and the creepy Count Olaf, who will make their lives a living hell in an attempt to get his hands on the children’s fortune.
There’s not a lot of character development, if any, but the descriptions (of places, people, food, etc) are brilliant.
I liked how the narrator would sometimes explain a word that younger readers might not understand. I didn’t feel patronized or anything like that, because I knew the target audience is (considerably) younger than I am. And if I were 10 or 11 I would have trouble understanding some of those words, so the explanations would have been a great help.
The grown-ups in the story are all either evil, useless, or dead. So the children use their own skills and knowledge to stop Count Olaf from doing terrible things to them. I think a lot of children would be able to relate to that, and perhaps feel inspired to take matters into their own hands when things get tough. But “reading” this story as an adult, it reminds me of how easily children are dismissed.
Some adults (like the Poes in the story) don’t take children seriously, even after they’ve asked for help, and just carry on with other “more important” business. Now, I have always been a “mama bear”, I have very strong maternal instincts even though I don’t have any children of my own, and I often find myself observing children, what they say, how they act, etc (like a good psychology student would. My lecturers would be so proud!), and if I see something that sets my “mama bear” alarm off I will do something about it! So, when the children visit Mr Poe to warn him about Count Olaf, I could NOT believe how easily he dismissed them. And just to add a cherry on top of the situation he tells Count Olaf about their visit! WTH?!
This part of the story really got under my skin because I know this happens in real life. Often children will find it difficult to ask for help when the threat is “one of them” (AKA an adult), so it breaks my heart that even after gathering up the courage to ask for help nobody listens to these children! They’re left to their own devices, just like the Baudelaire children.
Oh, I’ve gone off topic, haven’t I?
Sorry, I get carried away when “mama bear” comes out to play.
Anyway, if you’re looking for a short, creepy (but not sleep-deprivation scary) book then I would totally recommend the first book in “A Series of Unfortunate Events”.