April 4, 2009 @ 6:58 pm | Filed under: Books
I’m halfway through The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, and already I know this is a keeper. Figuratively speaking, I mean, because the copy I’m reading doesn’t belong to us. It’s the kind of book you want to own a copy of, the kind the kids are going to fight over when they grow up and start claiming favorites from these overcrowded shelves. So good, this book. I can recommend it wholeheartedly even before I read the second half.
It’s a mystery, full of puzzles, loaded with quirky characters in tight spots. Reynie Muldoon, our young hero, is an eleven-year-old orphan who answers an ad aimed at “gifted children seeking special opportunities.” The first “opportunity” turns out to be a series of curious tests containing questions such as “What’s wrong with this statement?” (“What’s wrong with YOU?” writes another special-opportunity-seeking child, an obstinate and somewhat churlish girl named Constance.)
Only a very few children make it through the rounds of testing, either by merit of their intellect or their daring, their inventiveness, their creative approach to problem-solving—and all of them by merit of their strong sense of honor and truthfulness. The peculiar tests are but the beginning of an adventure that quickly escalates to a perilous mission requiring strength of character and quick wits.
And if this all sounds very vague, that’s because I wouldn’t dream of spoiling any of this captivating novel’s many twists and turns. As I said, I’m halfway through, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
“I have had to give up writing to my close friends”
The Star of Christmas
‘…untidy, discursive, and perpetually inviting.’
Feast Your Eyes and Ears