Book Review : The Mysterious Benedict Society
By Trenton Lee Stewart
“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?”
Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them. Only four children-two boys and two girls-succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. But what they’ll find in the hidden underground tunnels of the school is more than your average school supplies. So, if you’re gifted, creative, or happen to know Morse Code, they could probably use your help. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
I balk at writing a review for books like this because it didn’t grab me, but there was nothing wrong with the book and it definitely has an audience. Once again, The Mysterious Benedict Society has the premise that the children are the only ones who can save the world from evil. It’s at times like this I believe I have read too much and am jaded.
-The gifted children each solve problems in a unique way. It’s great to see that there are different kinds of intelligence and solutions.
-If you love poetry, Constance’s poems are original.
-There is lots of cloak and dagger elements.
-Each character is distinct. The main character, , has integrity, humility and is very likable. Kate is bombastic, Constance is very contrary and Sticky is loyal.
-There were three plot twists that will catch the younger audience by surprise. (Warning! Here are the big spoilers! Skip down to the next section if you want to avoid spoilers. Benedict has an evil twin, Kate’s father is actually Milligan and Constance is actually only two years old – which explains why she is always stubborn and napping.)
-It’s slow off the mark. I felt like I was a third of the way through before we had gathered the four children who need to save the world.
-I interviewed my mother and other neighborhood children and the first adjective they all used to describe the novel was ‘weird’. There can be wonderful weird or just plain weird. My small survey all fell on the side of the latter.
I am reminded subtly of Animal Farm because of the progression of mis-thinking and misdirection.
Here is an excerpt from The Mysterious Benedict Society:
“The free market must always be completely free.
The free market must be controlled in certain cases.
The free market must be free enough to control its freedom in certain cases.
The free market must have enough control to free itself in certain cases.
The free market…” (p. 170)
3 out of 5 stars
- the Mother
If you liked this one try The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens, The Secret of Sinbad’s Cave The Natnat Adventures By Brydie Walker Bain, The Children of Green Knowe By L.M. Boston and Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. LaFever.