Yes, one week later, and I’m still obsessing over this series in one way or another. Last week, I focused on the new Netflix adaptation that premiered this month and gave a few random but mostly positive thoughts on the 2004 movie (Netflix still has the better adaptation, in my opinion). I also mentioned how I’d read summaries of the books. This is mainly due to me being both tight on money and busy with school at the time. But thanks to the internet, I’ve been able to continue this little obsession of mine. Over the last week, I found and read all 13 books in the main series. I can safely say that the ASOUE series was a fun read. Yes, these books get downright depressing at times and I can see why that would turn some people off. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to love dark material, and I found myself wanting to keep reading in the hopes that the Baudelaires would get even a semblance of a happy ending to all of this. They kinda do, though it’s left ambiguous enough to let your imagination fill in the rest.
I will say that I appreciated many of the changes Daniel Handler made when adapting the books. While Mr. Poe is a moron in both cases, he does have the occasional if infuriating moments of clarity in the Netflix series. Count Olaf definitely comes across as an evil man in the books, but there are small bits of characterization beyond that near the end that the Netflix series seems to be taking notes from. And as for the V.F.D. stuff, while it doesn’t feel like it comes out of nowhere in the books, it IS shoved in around the fifth one and takes over the series quite a bit from there. The series then has to clarify their involvement during the events of the first four books, when the V.F.D. probably wasn’t even thought up by Handler yet. However, while the Netflix series includes this subplot from the beginning (albeit sometimes too blatantly at times), it feels kinda like what Handler would have added if he could’ve re-written the older books to tie them much more closely to the rest of the series.
I did like some books slightly more than others, mostly for the situations the Baudelaires end up in. But I also didn’t think any of the books were outright bad or weak. The “Olaf gets disguised to steal the Baudelaires’ fortune” plot could get repetitive, along with some of Snicket’s narration of defining words, but there’s just a weird, morbid charm to this series. It didn’t bother me enough to stop reading, and all of these books only took about an hour to two hours each to finish. I even found myself wondering how each book would be adapted into the Netflix series, including what stuff might be changed or removed and feeling genuinely excited about the important plot moments happening with that cast. I thought about who they might get to play the new characters and how they’d handle a big sort of reunion scene that happens in the second-to-last book. I don’t even feel like I’ll have to nitpick the series for not being closer to the books as it comes out, because I love all the little touches they’ve made to separate the two.
All in all, I’m happy I finally got to read and appreciate the books for what they are. However, there is one more thing I failed to talk about in my last blog, and that was the video game adaptation of the movie. I played the Gamecube version at some point after having seen the movie. As a teenager, I thought it was alright and was mostly proud to have beaten it before my rental time was up (yep, back in those days). After having watched a playthrough of the game on YouTube recently, I can admit that it’s not very good. The graphics obviously haven’t aged all that well, the gameplay is repetitive and makes the game’s length feel unnecessarily padded, and even though they brought back Jim Carrey, Emily Browning and Liam Aiken to voice Count Olaf, Violet and Klaus, their performances all feel phoned in (Jim does get to ham it up some, though). I think the only positive I can say about it is that the narration by Tim Curry as Lemony Snicket seemed pretty good. I found out he also voiced many of the audio books for ASOUE, so in hindsight it makes sense why he has that role in the game. Overall, it’s nothing special, but I still wouldn’t call it the worst movie game out there.
Aside from continuing to watch the Netflix series, I’m thinking I’ll also find and read the spin-off books Handler released. As for the ASOUE books, I consider myself a fan of this series now more than ever. Even though I still prefer “Animorphs” as my favorite children’s series, I think “A Series of Unfortunate Events” deserves all the appreciation and praise it’s received. I’ve never seen any other series aimed at kids like it, and I doubt I ever will.