Friday, January 13, 2017

Audiobook Review: A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Today is the day. The day fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events have been waiting a long time for--the release of the A Series of Unfortunate Events Netflix show! In anticipation for the Netflix show (anticipation here meaning waiting an agonizingly long time for any news at all in regards to a live-action adaptation and then upon hearing news of a live-action adaptation being rather worried it won't turn out like you want), I listened to the audiobooks of the entire series to refresh my memory. It's been years since I last read the series, and I discovered I still love it. So in honor of such a superbulous day (superbulous here meaning super and fabulous), here's what I thought of the audiobook narration of A Series of Unfortunate Events (with help from Count Olaf).

The Narrator
Ten of the thirteen books are narrated by Tim Curry, which is actually the most perfect voice-casting for these books ever. He makes every character so distinct that I can tell who is talking without a dialogue tag. Plus, his rich accent makes the narrative portions of the books come to life in its quirky, melodramatic way. (Melodramatic here meaning: absolutely ridiculous that no adult ever listens to the insanely intelligent children and that one man is so focused on getting his hands on the Baudelaire fortune that he would disguise himself as many different characters and also start several fires.) Basically: the narration was great. Except during those three audiobooks (#3-5) when Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket's "spokesman") narrated instead.

Me, about anything.

To much great disappointment, I popped in CD one of The Wide Window and was dismayed to hear a terrible narration. It was so quiet. It was mumbled. And the voices were not as distinct or cleverly narrated as Tim Curry. I was thoroughly unimpressed. (Unimpressed here meaning I sulked the entire time I listened to the three audibooks narrated by Daniel Handler) Luckily, he only narrated three, and by the time I reached The Austere Academy (book the fifth), he was much better at it.

Still, why would you ever trade Tim Curry's lovely voice for Daniel Handler's? Just no. Get out.

The Songs
Each of the Listening Library audiobook CDs of A Series of Unfortunate Events begin and end with these bizarre songs related to the title/theme/events of the story. (Bizarre here meaning I stopped and stared at my car radio for a full minute as I tried to distinguish what in the world was coming out of my car's speakers.) Apparently the songs were performed by Daniel Handler (along with others), and you can find them on Youtube. I highly encourage it if you want to experience a new piece of the Baudelaire story.

Imagine him singing the songs. It's better.

The Story
Obviously, I adore these books for several reasons. The characters are great and the plot is exciting and also unfortunate. In addition, the books teach children big words and grammar and how to love books and libraries (that's a definitely plus). And they also treat kids like the are intelligent human beings, which is great. I have absolutely no faults with the stories. Sure, they are books for children, so there are flaws or repetition in plot/character, and there are some things that don't add up or make sense. But they also teach kids about the real world and don't wrap everything up nice and tight with all the answers and overflowing happiness. It's great.

Same. Only I'm not faking it.

The Misfortune
My favorite thing about the books is how much work and thought was put into them to make you believe that they truly are a documentation of the Baudelaire orphans' unfortunate lives and that you should keep it all a secret, or really run away without reading it. Without fail, each book warns the reader not to continue, and the author does a great job keeping that tone throughout the series. I also love how they tell Snicket's story alongside the Baudelaires' and that you're able to uncover the truth of how they are connected and who Beatrice is. There are not many books out there like this. It's in a whole league of its own. (A whole league of its own here meaning nothing can compare. Nothing.) And it's absolutely lovely.

Basically me trying to explain why I love this series.

Overall, I think A Series of Unfortunate Events is a fantastic series to introduce children to. It helps them learn to read longer stories with better characters, better plot, and better world-building than most children's books. It also teaches about language and grammar and loving books. If you've read the series before or are planning a long car ride with a few youngsters, I'd definitely recommend the audiobooks (except for those blasted three that aren't Tim Curry's ray of sunshine voice) as an option.

What do you love about A Series of Unfortunate Events? Are you excited for the Netflix show?

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