Middle Grade Monday is a feature on The Contented Reader where I review and highlight current or upcoming books in the middle grade genre.

TITLE: The Bad Beginning

AUTHOR: Lemony Snicket

Rating: ★★★☆☆

PAGES: 162

PUBLISHER: HarperCollins


GENRE(S): Fantasy, Mystery

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket - The Contented ReaderDear 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


A Series of Unfortunate Events is one of the series that turned me into a bookworm. I definitely had an obsession with these books back in elementary school. I figured they would be great books to highlight for Middle Grade Monday!

The Bad Beginning introduces us to Violet, Klaus and Sunny. At the start, they find out that their parents have died in a fire and they are going to live with a relative, Count Olaf. The only problem, Count Olaf is a terrible man who is only interested in their fortune.

The characters in this novel are so enjoyable and really make the series great as a whole. I absolutely love that Violet is depicted as a strong, intelligent young girl. She’s more interested in science than the typical ‘girly’ things and I really love this representation. Klaus is a intelligent bookworm and Sunny is just such a cute young baby.

You definitely love to hate Count Olaf. He is completely sneaky, as seen by his tactics to gain the children’s fortune. He’s also evasive and selfish. I’m looking forward to revisiting his silly antics throughout the series. Mr. Poe, the banker, always makes me laugh because he is so lost.

The plot of The Bad Beginning is not as interesting or engaging as some of the other books, but it certainly is a nice introduction to a beloved middle grade series. I also just love that this series transcends middle grade, and is perfect for people of all ages. It’s a classic series that is different from anything I’ve read before.

I definitely recommend this series – especially to parents looking for something different for their child. That said, I would definitely warn them that the books tend to have more of a dark undertone to them. The Bad Beginning is clearly a great start to a mysterious and engaging series.

They didn't understand it, but like so many unfortunate events in life, just because you don't understand it doesn't mean it isn't so.

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About The Author

Lemony Snicket Author Photo - The Contented ReaderLemony Snicket had an unusual education and a perplexing youth and now endures a despondent adulthood. His previous published works include the thirteen volumes in A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Composer is Dead, and 13 Words. His new series is All The Wrong Questions.

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Let’s Chat in the Comments!

Did you read A Series of Unfortunate Events? Which book was your favourite? Are you a fan of the movie adaptation or the TV adaptation?

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The Bad Beginning Book Review - The Contented Reader

Victoria @ The Contented Reader

Victoria @ The Contented Reader

Avid reader and tea drinker. I read and review young adult books on my blog, The Contented Reader!


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