Monday, December 9, 2013

Title:     The Mysterious Benedict Society [The Mysterious Benedict Society, book 1]
Author:   Trenton Lee Stewart
Rating:   ★★★

I know I haven't been blogging lately but it's because I've been reading books I received via Netgalley and the reviews will only be out next year. Sorry! Also I was busy last week changing my blog layout. What do you think? Like it? Is it easier to navigate and less cluttered?

My sister has been telling me about The Mysterious Benedict Society, telling me it's a pretty good book and one she thinks I'll enjoy. And she's right. The book was marvelous!

"Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" ad attracts dozens for mind-bending tests readers may try. Only two boys and two girls succeed for a secret mission, undercover and underground into hidden tunnels. At the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, the only rule is - there are no rules.

I was so amazed by how Trenton Lee Stewart created such a book with a lot of puzzles. I wonder how he was able to conceptualize that puzzle room and the test questions. I'm somehow half-convinced that he's Mr. Benedict himself! ;) I'm so interested to see the book turned into a movie, because I'm not very creative so I'd like to see if my interpretation of the book in my mind's eye while reading was correct.

The reasoning behind the plot is the same with other Middle Grade books is the usual: children are the ones needed to save the day because of their innocence/pureness, the like. I consider this Middle Grade rather than YA because the children are nowhere near their teens (I think?) and one was even a toddler during the whole fiasco! What brought the kids together was not because they aced the tests but because of their unique characteristics that Mr. Benedict insisted would be perfect for the plan, and because they were all alone, in various interpretations of the word.

The children had to fight against the brainwashing of the nation through the hands of the mysterious Mr. Curtain. I'm surprised that such an adult concept was mixed with children, but I guess that's part of the appeal to older readers. Since I believe in subliminal messages and that it, in fact, takes place through our media, it was interesting to read about a fictionised take on how it is carried out (but gosh I hope Mr. Curtain's Whisperer is not real!).

Reynie Muldoon stood out as sort of the leader, not just because he was smart but also because he had this aura of decisiveness that I think children look for as guidance. Kate Wetherall's penchant for acrobatics and bringing along tools was very entertaining. Sticky Washington's very absorbent mind was very useful. And Constance Contraire...well, what she brought to the table will be revealed in the end, and it's too good to spoil for you. I like that the children weren't your run-of-the-mill kid heroes, or had that "hero complex" where they believe that they are the ones to save the world. I like that they were conflicted with their own base desires while trying to succeed in their mission. I do wonder that in a place that big with so many kids, how come they were the only ones who got headaches? It would have been great if there were issues where a kid's head would suddenly ache, and Reynie and the others would have seen the consequences. Also, if the Executives and Messengers watched like a hawk, how come no one noticed their headaches? Plus, for a man who liked to have total control, there was no mention of cameras and listening devices in LIVE.

The Mysterious Benedict Society wasn't perfect, and I had a lot of questions, but they all pale in comparison to my enjoyment of the book. I only had an ebook copy, and I almost didn't want to finish it because I immediately wanted to buy a hardbound copy of the whole set - and that's just after reading three chapters! The bookstore I went to ran out of copies so I have to postpone my reading of the series because I really want my own copy of the whole set.

I think I just discovered another series worth fangirling over. If you're also into Middle Grade books, puzzles, and adventure, you might find The Mysterious Benedict Society your cup of tea. :-)


  1. Wonderful review-now I really feel like I've been missing out on this series! The Mysterious Benedict Society has always intrigues me, I just need to pick it up. You know a book has caught your attention when you want to toss the e-version and grab the hardback/series! :)

    1. Me too! It took me a long time but I'm really glad I did. :)

  2. I can really get into Middle Grade if it is done well and this sounds like it was-I will definitely have to look into it. "I almost didn't want to finish it because I immediately wanted to buy a hardbound copy of the whole set - and that's just after reading three chapters!" I am SOLD. ;)

    1. Yes, it is! It's a bit hard to read Middle Grade but I liked how it was a mix of children and adult. :) Thanks, Alise!

  3. Sounds like a great book. I am intrigued with the puzzles you speak of. I like puzzles or anything that makes you think. Alam mo yon, hindi basta basta yung kwento, pinagisipan at pinaghirapan. Will add this to my TBR. :)

    1. Blessed be, sister! ;) (Got it? Hehe!)

      Yeah, I love the occasional puzzling book, although I also love my usual light books just to escape. Books are my escape. xD


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