Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society

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The Mysterious Benedict Society The Mysterious Benedict Society by
Series: Mysterious Benedict Society #1
Published by in 2007
Genres: ,
Pages: 492

After Reynie Muldoon responds to an advertisement recruiting "gifted children looking for special opportunities," he finds himself in a world of mystery and adventure. The 11-year-old orphan is one of four children to complete a series of challenging and creative tasks, and he, Kate, Constance, and Sticky become the Mysterious Benedict Society. After being trained by Mr. Benedict and his assistants, the four travel to an isolated school where children are being trained by a criminal mastermind to participate in his schemes to take over the world. The young investigators need to use their special talents and abilities in order to discover Mr. Curtain's secrets, and their only chance to defeat him is through working together.

My Review:

This book was a little out of my comfort zone, but I’d heard good things about it, so I decided to give it a try. It is most definitely an MG novel, which I don’t mind so much as long as it’s well done, and I think this book was one of the best MG novels I’ve read. As an adult reader, I still had some questions, but they weren’t so pressing that they overwhelmed my enjoyment of the book. I think that’s the true test of a novel for a younger genre (either YA or MG) – can the book be enjoyed without all the answers.

Part of the enjoyment, of course, was the cast of characters. I found Reynie very easy to relate to, despite our difference in age. Kate and Sticky were the perfect Ron and Hermione to Reynie’s Harry, and Constance… well Constance was a nuisance as she is supposed to be, but it makes sense once you find out how old she is. And Benedict, dear old Mr. Benedict, is so cute! He really personified that “tired old man” vibe that we get from all the great mentors; Merlin, Dumbledore and all the rest.

But perhaps the best part for me, and one of the reasons I will definitely be recommending it to all ages, is the tone of the novel. One of my hugest pet peeves as a kid was being talked down to just because I was young. I wanted to be treated as an equal by adults, and I hated people, and novels, that just assumed because I was younger, I was ignorant, and unable to understand. This novel not only avoids that tone, it acknowledges the problem. This is the novel I wanted to read in Elementary School, because I would have felt just as put-upon as Reynie when his orphanage master didn’t even let him try to get into another, better school. Granted Reynie is the extreme, but the main point is still one worth listening to: Children are nowhere near as dumb as adults often make them out to be.

If you haven’t read this one yet, then I suggest you immediately put it on your TBR pile. Besides being educational, it’s pure fun!

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