Monday, October 6, 2014

The Mysterious Benedict Society // Book Review

The Mysterious Benedict Society:
Trenton Lee Stewart
{5 of 5}

When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. (and you, dear reader, can test your wits right alongside them.) But in the end, just four very special children will succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete. With their new found friendship at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all?
(from the back of the book. :)

I began this book with HIGH expectations. I read a review, more than six months ago by someone I highly admire, and she simply raved about The Mysterious Benedict Society. Under normal conditions, I don't expect much from Children's books in general. They tend to be poorly written, without much plot and full of run on sentences and extraordinarily STUPID characters, because "kids won't know the difference, so lets just focus on pumping out more and more books instead of focusing on quality." Unfortunately that plan will backfire, and produce lazy, stupid children, who don't even enjoy reading, because the contents of the books they have read are lame and full of pointless, spineless characters. (I shall stop ranting now.)
Not so with The Mysterious Benedict Society. The characters were quirky and brilliant,  and the storyline was fascinating, even though it was a bit strange and quite far-fetched. Stewart made a great point of stressing relationships and working together to accomplish huge, almost unattainable results. Every time Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance tried to work on their own, disaster befell them.  Each character had their weak points, but they all had their own particular strong points, and put together in a foursome, they were able to blend together to get things done.
The villain, Mr. Curtain was fascinating, and his identity was quite BRILLIANT. Well played, Mr. Stewart, well played. He was quite awful enough, and I didn't find myself falling for him, as I have with so many wonderful {awful} villains before. I did, however, quite love one or two of his minions. To say that they were misunderstood is a massive understatement. 
Mr. Stewart's book is about good triumphing over evil, teamwork, and genius. I found his chapter titles to be quite amusing. The Trouble With Children, or Why They Are Necessary. People and Places to Avoid. Bad News and Bad News. Of Families lost and found. Etc.  And the artwork sprinkled throughout the book is wonderfully quirky. 
To say that I enjoyed this book (and it's sequels) would be an understatement. In my humble opinion, these books by Mr. Stewart are superb.  Do use caution when giving them to children, however, because they are a little thrilling, and those whose imaginations are quite vivid would be advised to await a time when they are better able to handle the suspense. They have my high regard, however, and are quite lovely.

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