WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events) by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
Type: Adventure, Contemporary
Basic Plot: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny have just been orphaned and are now living with an evil relative who is determined to get their fortune at any cost.
Plot: 4/5 Well Done: The plot was clever and not too cliché. The characters were mostly unique, though some may think the antagonist is a bit cliché in some aspects. Mr. Snicket/Handler did a good job at leading up to the climax of the story by leaving hints, but not hints that you would have noticed probably until you reached the of the story.
Writing Style and Setup: 4/5 Well Done: The style of writing was humorous and a little dark. It had a similar feel as School of Fear, but it was briefer than School of Fear was. The story and events all went together well and were paced well.
Graphics: 4/5 Well Done: Most of the graphics were sketches. They were not elaborate, but have good shading and details. Some of the drawings also leave hints in them.
Moral: 1/5 No Clear Moral: Unfortunately there isn’t really any main moral. The only moral that may be seen is that people who are righteous and intelligent will eventually outsmart the wicked and foolish, though it may take some time. The book also unfortunately had a slight feel of “Your Parents Are Dumb and Your Neighbor’s Evil” philosophy. (See Dangerous Ideas for explanation.)
Overall: 4/5 Well Done: Except for a “Your Parents Are Dumb and Your Neighbor’s Evil” feeling, the series was very well done in quality. I recommend it to children ten to twelve and older of either gender in being the most interesting for them.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 1/5 Slightly Suggested and Briefly Mentioned Content: A grown man attempts to marry a fourteen year old girl and some of his comments or actions towards her may be considered creepy, though probably not perverted. It is mentioned that some people put on Macbeth while naked.
Violence: 1/5 Light Violence: A girl wonders if she should throw a rock at a man. A grown man slaps a boy. A baby bites people throughout the book. A boy thinks of a man ripping at him with pirate-like hooks. When a man tells the children to “break a leg” one boy says he wishes he could. A man tells them they soon will, though they never do. A boy wonders why a man is not being violent.
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 0/5 None
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 1½/5 Some Lightly Disturbing and Emotional Content: The children’s parents die. The man that is taking care of the children is abusive, though not in graphics detail. He is more like a villain than a realistically abusive person. The children are threatened throughout the book by various people. The intro mentions death. A girl thinks sauce looks like blood. A girl hurts her hands and shoulder and they bleed.
Religious Issues: ½/5 Slightly Mentioned: It is mentioned that a girl looks like a ghost in the dark. A certain knot is called “The Devil’s Tongue.”
Magic: 0/5 None
Others: There is mention of alcohol and a party of people seems to be drunk. It mentions a man taking out wine for breakfast and having wine bottles upstairs.
Overall: 1½/5 Almost All Ages Appropriate: Overall, the book is clean. It is recommended to children ages eight and older morally.
Here is a link to the second book review: https://christianentertainmentreviewsblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/book-review-of-the-reptile-room/