Monday, November 23, 2009

Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Mysterious Benedict Societyis a group of top secret agents - children with peculiar talents and skills who passed a series of mysterious tests. The four children who manage to survive the tests - Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance - find themselves going undercover on a dangerous mission. Can they figure out what strange things are happening at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened before they are caught?

The Mysterious Benedict Society

Things I Liked:
I loved the story - it is interesting, exciting, and, of course, mysterious. I don't want to say much about the actual plot, since I wouldn't want to ruin it for you. The characters and their interactions were just plain fun. It has kind of the tongue-in-cheek type humor that I love so much. I think middle graders (and older kids) will really enjoy this series. Here are a few of my favorite passages:
The crying boy had begun flipping through the test now - there appeared to be several pages - and with each new page his sobs grew louder and more desperate. When he reached the end, he began to wail.
"I'm afraid loud weeping isn't permitted," said the pencil woman. "Please leave the room." p.21
"I tied her shoelaces to the desk," she whispered. "With my toes." p.211
In horror, the boys watched her raise the slimy, dirty, half-chewed glob of candy above the table top to examine it. Reynie's eyes swiveled to the Executives, who, having been disappointed in Kate's shoes, were now asking her to show her empty hands, then checking for stickiness under the edge of the table. He looked back to Constance and saw the realization hit her, her eyes widening in alarm. And then, an instant before Martina glanced up to see it, Constance popped the licorice into her mouth, chewed it up, and swallowed it. p.393
Just reading them again makes me remember how much fun it was.

Things I Didn't Like:
It seemed a bit long, which may turn off some kids from it. There seemed to be a lot of information included, but could possibly have been left out.

Got the same kind of humor as:
The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch
The Alcatraz books by Brandon Sanderson
A Series of Unfortunate Eventsby Lemony Snicket

s-factor: none
(that I recall)

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
a short fight sequence, not really described

Overall rating: ****

How much of the humor do you think kids get out of these kinds of books? Do you think the authors include some of it for the enjoyment of adults?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage,
I will get a very small percentage


  1. My 11-year-old loves these books -- we just got the new 3rd one and he is re-reading the first two before he starts that one. I'm hoping to read them myself someday soon!

  2. I think this series is one that adults and children can enjoy equally. I've read the first one a few months ago, and it reminds me of many that I enjoyed myself as a child.

  3. Gayle, I do think they will appeal very much to kids!

    Bookshelf monstrosity, yeah I loved it too! That's what I like about kids lit - some of them can be good for adults and kids, but it doesn't work the other way very often! Nothing like a nostalgia read.


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