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A special thank-you to Smile Rac for the book recommendation!
Title: The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
A group of children who are without families are tasked with saving the world from the nefarious Mr. Curtain. Does this group of kids have what it takes to foil the evil plans of a super-smart adult with seemingly unlimited resources? Follow them to the Institute where they will have to work together–using their cunning, skill and physical prowess to prevent Mr. Curtain’s domination of the entire world!
I enjoyed this story, though it’s a bit hard to categorize. It reminds me of Harry Potter a little bit–with the kids going off to a special school. Though it’s classified as science fiction, I’d say that element doesn’t stand out very much. Sure, there’s Mr. Curtain’s invention which definitely falls into the science fiction category, but the remainder of the book seems as though it could happen in a very normal world.
The children whom the story revolves around are each interesting and unique in their own way. And I enjoyed following them on their adventures and seeing how their group grew closer over time. However, there seemed to be something missing from their characters. Maybe it was that they were missing the playfulness and humor that you normally see in children. There also wasn’t a lot of vulnerability. They were a little too much like adults for my taste. The supporting characters were interesting too, but their development seemed a bit stunted, as well.
The story line itself was interesting and inventive. I would like to have learned more about Mr. Curtain’s plan–specifically why he was going to such great lengths to gain control. If his back story had been more developed, it would have helped me understand his motivation. As it was, it came across as Mr. Curtain is evil because he’s evil. I see that there are additional books in this series, so maybe they will expand on the characters and back story at a more satisfying level.
I recommend The Mysterious Benedict Society to elementary-age kids and preteens. It would also be a fun read-aloud for families. I think it’s possibly a bit juvenile to appeal to high schoolers.
Rating: 4 Stars
Until next time…