Today’s review is on The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.
All right, my review for The Mysterious Benedict Society might not be favorable because I kind of forced myself to read it before the TV show came out on Disney+. When it was first announced I had made a note to pick it up before, and I also have friends who love it so I wanted to check it out. But I felt like I slogged through it, but I think that’s only because I pushed myself to read it, even though I wasn’t in the mood to read it (I tend to be a mood reader sometimes). With that being said, while it wasn’t my new favorite, it was still a good book.
But….what is the book about? The Mysterious Benedict Society follows 11 year old Reynie Muldoon, who is a gifted boy who excels academically. He is also an orphan. One day his tutor shows him an ad in the paper about a test for special and gifted children, at her insistence he goes to take the test. After passing the tests, her and three other children meet the mastermind behind the tests, Mr. Benedict, and his team. He has chosen them to help find out the mastermind behind The Emergency – everyone feels like peril and doom are around the corner, but no one quite knows why, or how to solve The Emergency. Mr. Benedict has discovered that whoever is behind it is using children to send his subliminal and subtle messages. He has also been able to track the messages back to an island off the coast, Nomansan Island, home L.I.V.E school, and he believes the headmaster is behind it all, so he wants to send the children undercover to the school to discover what is going on and what is the Sender’s plan. After arriving at Nomansan Island, the children start investigating, while also trying to act inconspicuous. Will they be able to complete their mission successfully before being caught?
One of my biggest critiques of the novel is that it is overly long, like it could have easily have been at least 100 pages shorter. I know that there is a lot the author was trying to describe to the reader, but it id feel like overkill at times.
However, I loved the various puzzles that were scattered throughout the books, as well as some of the clever word play too, for example, Nomansan Island.
Another aspect of the novel that I didn’t like was The Emergency, it’s not that it wasn’t an interesting concept, it just hit a little too close to home., and I didn’t like that. When I read something like this, I want the evil plot that’s being solved to have hints of realism but not so realistic. I think because of the things The Emergency consists of is stiff that we as a society are dealing with, and reasoning behind it isn’t like it is in the novel, although the argument could be made that it is, i.e. social media. And again, that’s just me and my preference, and I have no idea if this explanation makes sense.
Overall, I did like the plot, sure it kind of moved slowly, but it gripped me enough to keep reading. I also enjoyed getting to know the characters, except Constance Contraire. I didn’t like her at all, even though she is one of the protagonists, but that might be the point, actually I think that is what the author was going for.
There were a few plot twists in the book that were kind of cliched, i won’t go into them, but one of them was revealed at the end of the trailer for the show. However, I loved how something as innocuous sounding as the Waiting Room is really a sinister torture of sorts. it reminded me a lot of Miss. Truchbull’s CHokey in Matilda by Roald Dahl.
The Mysterious Benedict Society was a good book, and I think if I had read it at a different time I probably would have enjoyed it more. I honestly don’t know if I will continue on with the series, but maybe in the future. I do recommend this for fans of A Series of Unfortuante Events, Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and anything by Roald Dahl. 3.5/5 Stars
Janelle L. C.