It's hard to rate books in a series, especially when the series has thirteen books. In the case of A Series of Unfortunate Events each book, through the third, has been better than its predecessor, but I wouldn't say that book three deserves an extra star over book one. How can I denote its superiority to the other books?
Though The Wide Window follows the pattern set forth in the previous two books, its selling point was that it was much more humorous. Aunt Josephine was hilarious, yet she was also a tragic character, and her interactions with the Baudelaires were among the series' best so far. It's not until book three that the characters start to seem comfortable with their roles. It's becoming natural for Violet to invent, Klaus to piece things together, and Sunny to bite, though at times it still feels a little forced.
The formula is on the verge of growing tiresome and I believe it can only last one more book before it breaks. I have heard that the formula changes periodically in the series, a very wise move for Handler, but I'm hoping either book 4 or 5 mark the changing point.
The kids enjoyed this one more than its predecessors as well. They found Jospehine and her gifts to the children to be very funny.
If I were to assign the books a more specific rating—which I will probably do from this point on to distinguish the many three stars this series will likely earn—it would be as follows.
The Bad Beginning – 3.1
The Reptile Room – 3.2
The Wide Window – 3.6