“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?” The perplexity of this newspaper ad catches the attention of a boy named Reynie Muldoon, who is indeed gifted and yearns to achieve purpose outside the walls of Stonetown Orphanage.
Upon responding to the ad, Reynie and dozens of other children find themselves taking a test that is not an average multiple-choice exam. Rather, it is bizarre, seemingly impossible, and altogether quite insane. The participants are quizzed with random questions pertaining to math, geography, science, and other subjects of academic nature—in addition to humility, kindness, and courage.
After passing this test, Reynie discovers that the brain behind it belongs to an intriguing and odd man by the name of Mr. Nicholas Benedict. Along with Reynie, Mr. Benedict chooses Constance Contraire (a contrary and persuasive girl), Sticky Washington (a boy who can remember every word he reads), and Kate Wetherall (equipped with her red bucket of problem-solving tools) to form The Mysterious Benedict Society. Together these four children are tasked with going undercover to infiltrate a private school involving a man named Mr. Curtain and a strange machine called The Whisperer.
The Mysterious Benedict Society is not the type of book I would typically read, but it piqued my curiosity enough that I enjoyed it and read its two sequels, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey and The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma.
Trenton Lee Stewart is a witty author. The intelligence this book contains makes it unique. With riddles so clever and unusual, one cannot help but laugh aloud when the answers are revealed. Although the plot moves a little slowly in some areas, Stewart’s amusing writing style will entice you to read on. The Mysterious Benedict Society is a strange but perfect combination of Ronald Dahl’s works and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
The Mysterious Benedict Society is a book one might consider reading to experience a taste of a different genre. It is moderately paced, features characters full of personality, and includes enough humor to cause you to chuckle during several moments as you read.
For writers who aspire to incorporate good-natured wit and intelligence in their novels, I encourage you to take an example from Mr. Trenton Lee Stewart. His style is unlike anything I have read before, and nearly every reader will find it charming and downright fun. If this book review has kept your attention all the way to the end, the book itself will delight you more, so next time you visit your local library, pick up The Mysterious Benedict Society and immerse yourself in the well-strung story that Stewart offers.