It's been a while since I've been able to sit down and enjoy an original and clever story. Stewart's style reminded me very much of Lemony Snicket's without quite so much eccentricity. You must all go read this book (and The Series of Unfortunate Events) if you haven't.
It took me a while to get through this book, but it was through no fault of its own. I told you May was going to be crazy, and it has been. But, hey, I graduated so no more school stands in my way. Ever. *explodes*
Anyway, this was a gem of a library find and I even roped my dad into reading it! Of course, he finished it in four days and it took me weeks, but he basically doesn't sleep, so . . . yeah. It had his kind of humor and he needed something lighthearted in his life at the time.
"ARE YOU A GIFTED CHILD LOOKING FOR SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES?"
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 newfound friendship at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all?
WELCOME TO THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY.
Reynie: The child with whom the story starts and who carries the burdens of troupe leader and plan maker. Watching his inside struggles was both fascinating and enlightening.
Sticky: A jittery, bald fellow with a habit for polishing his glasses. I loved watching him transform as life got harder and harder for him. His photographic memory is unmatched.
Kate: This girl is spunky and bouncy and always willing to go with even the most outrageous of plans. She reminds me a lot of a Kate I know from church :)
Constance: Ah, Constance. By far the most unique and hard to love of the children, yet endearing in her own way. She definitely made me laugh the most, even if she was a stinker and never really changed.
These four kiddos are awesome and I can't pick my favorite. Each one of them made me laugh. I cannot say anything else about all the ranks of employees inside the Institute or the very strange yet similar Misters Benedict and Curtain without giving anything away. So you will have to discover gems like them for yourselves :)
Although I guess it never really said, the book struck me as being set in 1940s England, due to the buses and abundance of plaid suits. However, the children are secluded on Nomansan Island for the majority of the book at L.I.V.E., the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened. It's turf reminded me of Arizona, except it had a river separating it from 'England.' I'm sure all that nonsense helped you picture it in your mind :P
The four children that make up the Mysterious Benedict Society are sent on a secret mission to uncover the doings at L.I.V.E. Each has their own fear that they are battling that teaches them many lessons along the way. All of the children are without parents, one way or another, and so many of their struggles root in that. Whether it's being alone, unwanted, or unable to work together, it was really quite fun to see how each unique personality had to blend for teamwork. And in the end, each child was absolutely necessary.
9/10 mushrooms. That's right. My last review said 5/5 stars, but my brother told me I had to do a scale of ten because it was more precise, and I couldn't do stars, because they were too original. So there you have it.
The only reason I'm giving it 9 'shrooms instead of 10
other than the fact that 10 is just too perfect is because I found it a little hard to follow in several places. Some of the breakthroughs the children had while investigating were things I had assumed all along. Or I just wasn't getting what the big deal was. (I wouldn't make a very good secret agent.) All in all, though, it was an extremely clever book with a witty sense of humor. Though it was in the Young Adult's section at my library, I intend to have my 12-year-old brother read it. I think it was the reading level and length instead of the content that called for an older readership.
How many of you have read this book? It's awesome, right? It's one I heard about for a while and read on recommendation from several fellow blogs (you know who you are.) If you haven't read it, you really should give it a shot some time, because it's just neat and original. And even though it has two sequels, it's a satisfactory, self-contained story that would be great for the entire family. *nods*
And I also need 11 more followers before the end of the month to hit my goal *hint hint* But, it's just a number. You guys are all I could ask for!! Now comment away :D