I recently marathoned A Series of Unfortunate Events for the first time in honor of the Netflix series. Thirteen books in a few weeks. This series was definitely not meant to be read in a marathon like that. They get a bit repetitive and downright depressing. That being said, Lemony Snicket’s (Daniel Handler) writing is fantastic. He is funny, smart, and accessible. His ability to define words so that kids can understand them is just plain great.
The series has its ups and downs as most series do. So, without further ado, here is THE definitive ranking of the series (in my opinion, but if you hold my opinion in high regard, then you would agree with me. Or not. Whatever, here’s my damn list).
Spoilers for A Series of Unfortunate Events from here on:
13. Book the Eleventh: The Grim Grotto – This one, I had a really hard time getting through. There was a lot of book, but not a lot of action. It introduced the Meducoid Mycelium (spelling?), but not much else. Oh, I did like Captain Widdershins as well. BUT THAT DAMN SUGAR BOWL.
12. Book the Eighth: The Hostile Hospital – Another big book with too many questions and not enough answers. The introduction of the Snicket file was very intriguing, even though we knew the Baudelaire parents were already dead so the last page was useless for us. Thanks dramatic irony.
11. Book the Tenth: The Slippery Slope – The only thing this book has going for it is Quigley. Lots of sitting around, doing nothing, shifting viewpoints, and, suddenly, Sunny is a good cook? Whatever. Also, I hated how he handled the Snicket file. It gets read by the bad guys and is never mentioned again. Come on. However, I did love it when Quigley and Violet got their moment of privacy. That was a great moment in the series and probably one of my favorites.
10. Book the Fifth: The Austere Academy – This one was kind of boring. Pros: Introduction of the Quagmires, who are just great. I can now call people cakesniffers. Cons: The teachers. Principal Nero was just ANNOYING. It just wasn’t funny. Carmelita Spats.
9. Book the Seventh: The Vile Village – I don’t really have a lot to say about this one. I liked Hector. I thought the Red Herring bit was funny, but ultimately made this book pointless.
8. Book the Fourth: The Miserable Mill – I liked the version of the mill in the show better than the book (and not just because of Rhys Darby). The pacing was off in this book. It also made me feel really bad for the workers of the mill. Unfair working conditions, man.
7. Book the Thirteenth: The End – This would be higher on the list, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. There was a lot I loved about this book (Kit Snicket is my spirit animal) and a lot that annoyed me (THE DAMN SUGAR BOWL). I was very confused about setting the whole book on the island. It really didn’t feel like a finale, but I guess that’s life. I’m assuming that is what Snicket was going for, but still. It felt weird to end it like that.
6. Book the Ninth: The Carnivorous Carnival – CHABO THE WOLF BABY!
5. Book the Third: The Wide Window – Loved the codes and Aunt Josephine. Captain Sham is probably my favorite Olaf disguise.
4. Book the Second: The Reptile Room – Uncle Monty was the best guardian and, if you disagree, you are wrong. Fight me.
3. Book the Sixth: The Ersatz Elevator – This is where the shift happens from light-hearted adventures to dark-ish mysteries. A schism, if you will. This book was a lot of fun. You get to see the Baudelaires having fun and doing the things they are best at. Jerome was so nice and I wish he showed a bit more backbone. I did love the Esmè/Gunther twist. That really threw me through a loop. The Esmè part, not the Gunther. Very Fancy Doilies.
2. Book the First: The Bad Beginning – The book that started it all. It was a breath of fresh air for junior fiction. It is dark and sad, but extremely well balanced with humor. It really set Olaf up as a great villain. I was ready to read the next book right away.
1. Book the Twelfth: The Penultimate Peril – I absolutely loved this book. Kit Snicket. Splitting the Baudelaires up and shifting the viewpoints for each chapter was brilliant. The secret library. Dewey’s demise was heartbreaking and really gave the siblings some depth. What makes someone a villain? Lots of questions were answered as well, even if that came with a healthy scoop of other questions. Also, the Hotel Denouement organized as a giant library? So great.
So there you have it. The indisputable listing of ASOUE, unless you have a better listing. Do you agree with my list? Let me know what you think in the comments.