Thursday, July 22, 2021

Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (2008)

The Mysterious Benedict Society is the story of four gifted kids - Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance - who are handpicked by Nicholas Benedict to infiltrate a school called the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, which is attempting to control minds through subliminal messages sent out through various forms of media. Using their various strengths, the four characters work together even in the face of great danger to bring down the mastermind of these messages, Ledroptha Curtain. 

I read this as part of a discussion group on Instagram but wound up not really participating in the discussion. Whereas the other members seemed to love the book, I really thought it was just okay. I didn't like a lot of things about it: the fact that so many character names had not-so-hidden meanings, for example, and also the plot's reliance on coincidences and unknown family connections that just happen to be revealed at convenient moments. It felt like this book was trying really hard to be clever and really wanted me to notice its cleverness, while I wanted it to be much more subtle. 

In terms of content, I have no objection to my kids reading this book. My husband read it, and though he didn't like the ending, he still bought a copy, and it's here in our homeschool library if any of our kids want to pick it up. For me, though, I'm most likely done with this series. It's not the type of book I typically like, and there was nothing especially amazing about this specific book to make it an exception for me. 

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