Wednesday, February 8, 2012

MG Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart

General Information
Publisher:  Little, Brown & Co
Year of publication:  2007
# of chapters:  39
# of pages:  485
Genre:  Adventure/Mystery
Website: (...)
Plot summary:  from

Other books in the series:  
#2:  The Perilous Journey
(2008, 440 pages, 26 chapters)
#3:  The Prisoner's Dilemma
(2009, 392 pages, 23 chapters)

Positive Points
If you love brain teasers, this book is for you.  The plot is intriguing and contains a lot of puzzles to solve, especially in the first book.  It kept me interested from beginning to end.

The four orphans have unique abilities that help them in solving problems or puzzles in their own way: Reynie is very logical and can read other people's emotions; Sticky has a photographic memory and speed-reading skills; Kate is extremely agile and carries a bucket of useful objects with her everywhere (including a bag of marbles and a spyglass disguised as a kaleidoscope); Constance is annoyingly stubborn and can write poems about any situation they find themselves in. What do stubbornness and poetry have to do with solving puzzles? Hmm... good point. I'll let you read the book and figure it out.

Negative Points
This story is written from an omniscient POV, which means the narrator knows everything about everyone. There are four children, and each plays a major role in the story, and sometimes we also get other minor characters' POV.  I always prefer a story told uniquely from the main character's viewpoint. Although it's not wrong in itself, the omniscient POV is a lot less popular these days than it was back in the fairy tale era.

There was a lot of telling, including side notes in parentheses (which I found a bit weird) throughout the chapters.  It slowed down the plot and distracted me from the story (just like my little note in parentheses above probably distracted you from the flow of my review, and is distracting you again now).

I don't want to spoil the ending, but I had a hard time believing who Constance Contraire really is.  It just didn't seem realistic to me at all.

What makes this book unique
I enjoyed trying to resolve the puzzles along with the characters. I wish there were more puzzles in the other two books. The last one was a bit disappointing.  I was expecting a similar amount of brain teasers and weird problems to solve, but there were a lot less than in the first book.

Overall Impression
I really loved the first book, the second one was okay, and I started losing interest in the third one, mid-way through. I wish the other two books had fulfilled my expectations for more puzzles.  That's what I liked the most in the first book.

My Rating (for book 1):

Thinking of purchasing this book? I'll make it easy for you:



Jess @ The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow said...

Hi! great to connect with you! My co-author also reviewed The Mysterious Benedict Society on our blog- We are in the process of promoting our middle grade novel, The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow. I'm a new follower: GFC follower, Fairday Morrow. Good luck with your book! Middle grade is the most fun : ) ~ Jess

Anonymous said...

i read this one too. i enjoyed it, but it seems like it could have used some more editing / tightening :)

Annie McMahon said...

Thanks for visiting, Jess! I'll check out your blog. Good luck with your book!

Gina, you're right. Too late now, it's already published. That's why I like my critique group so much. I can give my input and make a difference in how the book will turn out. :)

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