Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Right, good temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."

A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 2:  The Reptile Room – Lemony Snicket

190 pages

Genre:  YA/Juvenile; Adventure; Fantasy

*Spoilers for the first book are in both the summary and the review, as it’s kind of impossible to talk about the second book without revealing crucial plot points from the first.  Proceed with caution if you haven’t read it yet and still wish to maintain an element of surprise.

Summary:  In this second installment of The Series of Unfortunate Events, the Baudelaire orphans are back for their next adventure.  After escaping from the evil clutches of dastardly Count Olaf, the children are sent to live with their distant relative and animal enthusiast, Uncle Monty.  Everything is going along quite swimmingly until Uncle Monty’s new assistant comes to work at the house, effectively turning everything upside down.  Will the Baudelaire children ever get the quiet, happy life that they seek?

Review:  I thoroughly enjoyed The Bad Beginning, the first book in this series, so my expectations were quite high for The Reptile Room.  Much to my delight, I enjoyed The Reptile Room just as much as its predecessor, and read the whole thing in an hour or two.

Lemony Snicket is a great storyteller, and the way he weaves his words really makes the events, characters, and settings come to life.  I love that he talks directly to the reader in various parts of the story; since this is written with a younger audience in mind, it really helps to draw readers in, teach them moral lessons and manners, and also allows them to try to deduce what they would do if they were in any given situation.  The foreshadowing within the book does tend to hit the reader over the head, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing when the intended audience is taken into consideration.  Knowing that something bad is going to happen before it actually occurs may make kids feel as though they can one up the characters, in a sense, while also allowing them to really pay attention to what caused the events to transpire.

The characters are also really great, and I’m sure many readers could see themselves in at least one of the Baudelaire children.  The trio are incredibly smart and logical, and their ability to stick together no matter the situation gets them through everything.  Uncle Monty was incredibly eccentric, and I really liked that he had a room full of reptiles.  Count Olaf was just as terrifying as I’ve come to expect, and I love that he was brought back as the villain in this book, too.

These books are packed with twists and turns and are incredibly fun to read.  Some of the subject matter is a bit dark, so I think this series would be great for a mature 9-12 year old.  I certainly can’t wait to read more!

Rating:  3.5/5

Other Books in this SeriesThe Bad Beginning (Book 1), The Wide Window (Book 3), The Miserable Mill (Book 4), The Austere Academy (Book 5), The Ersatz Elevator (Book 6), The Vile Village (Book 7), The Carnivorous Carnival (Book 8), The Slippery Slope (Book 9), The Hostile Hospital (Book 10), The Grim Grotto (Book 11), The Penultimate Peril (Book 12), The End (Book 13)


  1. These are pretty great, but if I read too many in a row, I get irritated by some of the devices he employs to get children through the story. They're not quite as adult friendly as something like Harry Potter, but they're also for slightly younger kids.

    But, were I in a position to be reading aloud to children for a long period of time, this would definitely be one of my top choices. :-)

  2. I know what you mean about reading these too closely together; that's actually why I waited so long to read this one! They're so quick once you start them, but one at a time is good enough for me.

    This would be a great book for reading aloud!