To cleanse the palate of our overindulgence into the death and decay filled horror stories I have been posting last month, I thought I would present to you a great book about gifted children, the adults who recognize this genius, and a lot of really cool puzzles to solve along with our beloved main characters.
The Mysterious Benedict Society and is the first in a series of books. It is essentially about four children, Reynie Muldoon who is a very very smart young man with exceptional problem solving skills; Kate Wetherall who is fearless and displays prowess in the realm of physical dexterity; Constance Contraire who is very sensitive to peoples mental state, along with being a poet of sorts; and Sticky Washington who brings photographic memory and speed reading to the mix. These four gifted children were the only ones out of hundreds to pass a test designed by the Mysterious Mr. Benedict who then invites the children to join him in his secret society. The children (who are all orphans, or at least feel like nobody cares about them) go undercover at the L.I.V.E. (Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened) school to spy on Mr. Curtain to see if they can uncover his nefarious plot. At the school they run into the various types of minions in the employ of Mr. Curtain. The depressed Helpers who are no help at all, the Messengers who are students with special privileges who use telepathic messages to brainwash the common people, the
Recruiters who go and kidnap gifted children and the Executives who are especially talented Messengers who have been promoted to leadership positions and can be very dangerous. Much chaos ensues as the four children must learn to work together, because along with their special talents, as all people do, each of these children has there own unique flaws. Eventually it is uncovered that Mr. Curtain is working to brainwash all the people of the world, using "recruited" genius children, not unlike Mr. Benedict's recruits to further his goals and plans. In the end the children, with some help from friends they made along the way, stop Mr. Curtain, but he gets away (leaving the door open for sequels). The children all get there own individual happy endings and I look forward to the next book.
The book is awesome for several reasons. First of all the characters are great, the perfect mix of personality, flaws, humor, and quirkiness. There are many types of characters and the interaction between them all and how their personalities mesh and clash makes you love, even the crabbier of them. Second the story is done fairly well, it is not groundbreaking in terms of plot, but it is solid and throws in a few great twists. Third and possibly one of my favorite parts is that this book is chock full of puzzles and it gives the reader an opportunity to try and puzzle it out before the characters do. A lot of the puzzles (especially in the beginning with the tests) are solved by all four of the characters in four completely different, yet valid ways, showing that a lot of times there is more than one answer. I think this book would be great to read with your kids/nieces/nephews/friends kids/snot nosed brat across the hall/puppy, it has a lot of things you could work out with them which would be a lot of fun. I highly recommend this book for people who like to puzzle things out, like humor, like a good mystery about weirdo kids.