The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

October 5, 2009
“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?” (Stewart, 3). Mind-boggling tests, bizarre rules, and a top-secret mission all begin when an abnormal advertisement shows up in the local Stonetown newspaper. Hundreds of kids enter, but only four extraordinarily gifted ones are selected. When these youngsters are presented with a dangerous mission, they must make a choice. Will they choose to embark on this journey, and will they succeed?

This book is bound to contain something that everyone can relate to, whether it’s the characters’ personalities or an interest in adventure. Stewart gives you the chance to experience the same things that the characters have to deal with. For example, Stewart provides questions that were on the same tests that the children have to take “The territories of the Naxcivan Autonomous Republic and the Nagorno-Karabakh region are disputed by what two countries? A) Bhutan, which under the 1865 Treaty of Sinchulu ceded border land to Britain; and Britain, which in exchange for that land provided Bhutan an annual subsidy, and under whose influence Bhutan’s monarchy was established in 1907. B) Azerbaijan, whose territory in 1828 was divided between Russia and Persia by the Treaty of Turkmenchay; and Armenia, a nation founded after the destruction of the Seleucid Empire some two thousand years ago, likewise incorporated into Russia by the aforementioned treaty. C) Vanuatu, which having been administered (until its independence) by an Anglo-French Condominium, retains both French and English as official languages (in addition to Bislama, or Bichelama); and Portugal, whose explorer Pedro Fernandez de Quiros became in 1606 the first European to discover the islands Vanuatu comprises” (p. 22). The clever characters answer these demanding questions, and you can figure out how to get the same answer or see the kids’ explanations. This book even provides a personality quiz in the back to see which person you are most like!

The Mysterious Benedict Society also has a unique theme. The children, who have very different personalities, learn to work together to accomplish a mission that seems impossible. They discover how to cover the gaps in each other’s knowledge and attitude. For example, the characters help each other to understand new concepts “ ‘What does obfuscate mean?’ asked Constance. Sticky, as if someone had pulled a string in his back, promptly answered, ‘To make so confused or opaque as to be difficult to perceive, or to otherwise render indistinct.’ Constance looked frightened. ‘It means to make things muddled,’ Reynie said” (p. 99). With their teamwork, they become an unbeatable group that can conquer anything.

I unquestionably recommend this book. From science fiction to action, this book has every genre you could possibly imagine. With mysterious riddles and hot pursuits, this book will surely keep you on your knees begging for more!

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