By Carmel Ilustrisimo
What kind of a children’s book warns you not to read it? Any book from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, that is.
And yet the opposite happened—it became a 2000s classic, along with Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl. But its tone could not have been any more different.
A Series of Unfortunate Events tells the story of three young orphaned siblings—Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire. All 13 books in the series have either unhappy or open endings, but the readers have been forewarned in the covers and in the introductory letters before the first chapter of each book. Yes—children (the bulk of the series’ readership) are told early on that happily-ever-after doesn’t really happen, not even in books.
That’s what makes this series so lovable. It’s realistic. It’s a good emotion purge, not just for kids going through their angst phase, but for adults who just want to find something to rant.
Yet ASoUE isn’t as pessimistic as it is sarcastic. The whole series, despite its Addams Family-esque aesthetic, is biting and ironic, not to mention darkly hilarious. The series has a unique way of blending the uncanny with humor. For example, the kids find themselves nearly killed several times throughout the series, but the writer (played in the series by Patrick Warburton) manages to sneak in a dark joke or two without unnecessarily breaking the suspense. And while most of the villains are caricatures, they’re scary caricatures.
Instead of the usual magical elements and super powers, the books revolve around a shady spy organization called the V.F.D., complete with secret codes, tattoos, handbook training, conspiracies, and murders. We’re hoping that appears in the upcoming Netflix series, as we hope that the TV series will be as foreboding and darkly humorous as the books. Either way, you’ve been warned.