I remember reading about this book on a lot of blogs (though I cannot for the life of me remember which ones – I totally need to start keeping track of this stuff!) and it certainly sounded like something I would thoroughly enjoy. And thoroughly enjoy it I did, right from the beginning.
This is a story about four very gifted children. There’s Reynie, who solves puzzles really quickly, and George “Sticky” Washington, who has a positively amazing memory. Kate (or, as she’d like to be called, “The Great Kate Weather Machine”) always carries a bucket full of items that can be used in any messy or dangerous situation. And then there’s Constance, who is more gifted than any of the other children realize.
Other than being gifted, these four kids seem very different at first, but they have two very important things in common – for one, they are all lovers of the truth (though I don’t know if you could get Constance to admit that), and they are all without family.
Soon, however, they are all working undercover for Mr. Benedict to expose a scheme by the evil Mr. Curtain. Mr. Curtain has been using children to broadcast subliminal messages over radio waves in his first stage to take over the world, and is closer to the completion of his project than anyone had ever suspected. Mr. Benedict (and the rest of the world) rely on our four very gifted children to stop Mr. Curtain from succeeding, but in order to do this the four children have to learn to work as a team to discover how Mr. Curtain is using children to spread his messages.
I don’t even know where to start with this book – there was just so much that was enjoyable. The characters, the plot, the adventure, the intrigue, the narration… it all made for such a good read. Anyone who enjoys books like Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Webb’s Horatio Lyle, Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, L’Engle’s Time Quartet and other books where children are an integral part of overcoming evil, will love The Mysterious Benedict Society as well.
I can’t even say that I have one specific favourite character. They all were well developed – even those who we only saw a little bit of, like the Executives (teachers at the Institute where our four protagonists are undercover). I liked how not all of the grown-ups were seen as bad guys either, which can sometimes happen in books where children are battling evil. There was real depth to a lot of the characters, too. Some things that were revealed about characters at later points in the book were completely unexpected, but made a lot of sense when looking back.
The sequel to this book came out in May, and I’m going to have to get it once it’s in paperback. I hope it’s going to be as good as this one.