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The Mysterious Benedict Society

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"Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?"

When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. (And you, dear reader, can test your wits right alongside them.) But in the end just four very special children will succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. As our heroes face physical and mental trials beyond their wildest imaginations, they have no choice but to turn to each other for support. But with their newfound friendship at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all?

This tenth anniversary edition of The Mysterious Benedict Society includes over thirty pages of bonus materials that will delight old and new fans alike.

497 pages, Kindle Edition

First published March 7, 2007

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About the author

Trenton Lee Stewart

31 books3,708 followers
Trenton Lee Stewart is the author of the award-winning, bestselling Mysterious Benedict Society series for young readers; The Secret Keepers, also for young readers; and the adult novel Flood Summer. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Letters to the author may be sent to:

Trenton Lee Stewart
PO Box 251358
Little Rock, AR 72205

For inquiries about virtual author visits:

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5 stars
69,906 (45%)
4 stars
52,262 (34%)
3 stars
24,079 (15%)
2 stars
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1 star
1,768 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 12,897 reviews
Profile Image for Rick Riordan.
Author 509 books402k followers
November 8, 2013
I feel like I’m coming late to the party, since a lot of readers have already discovered this series, but I enjoyed it very much -- great cast of characters, lots of cool puzzles and mysteries. The book made me feel nostalgic, because it reminded me of some of the better children’s books I grew up with, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Phantom Tollbooth. Stewart’s storytelling has an old-fashioned elegance to it, and yes, I mean that in the best possible way! The second book in the series is now out, and I will definitely be picking it up.
Profile Image for emma.
1,825 reviews48.3k followers
December 27, 2022
Please read the following sentence as if I am singing it, joyfully:


Also, I hope you mentally gave me a beautiful singing voice. I’m not saying I have one but I am saying that’s the polite thing to do.

Anyway: THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD. I love it so much oh my god. Unless you are new here (in which case, welcome and you have made a grave mistake), you know how I feel about middle grade. How I feel about middle grade is this: I LOVE IT.

Middle grade is like young adult if young adult wasn’t so dramatic, and didn’t have a million boring/dramatic/unnecessary subplots, and wasn’t legally required under the jurisdiction of the United Nations to contain a romance.

In other words, if everything that sucked so hard about YA didn’t exist.

A utopia!

Middle grade adventure is especially good, and this book is the most especially good example of the most especially good of the most especially good.

Even just writing about it makes me so happy I can barely type out rational thoughts!!! (Don’t say what else is new. Just because it’s true doesn’t mean it’s nice. See: the beginning of this review.)

The Mysterious Benedict Society is action-packed. It is also riddles-packed, and mystery-packed, and excitement-packed, and friendship-packed, and character development-packed, and knowledge-packed, and everything that is wonderful in this world-packed.

I loved it when I was ten. I loved it when I reread it in early high school. And I love it now, when my opinions are actually trustworthy. (Ten year old me liked every book she read and early high school me wore like 18 layers of mascara every day so don’t go around listening to either of them.)

Rereading this was a pleasure even while I was in the midst of a reading slump for the ages, which is proof that it’s good all the time no matter who you are!!

It’s also pretty shockingly diverse, for 2007. Like, could give most YA fantasy published in 2018 a run for its money.

The friendships and family in this are so wonderful, and the characters themselves are lil sweethearts you just want to hug, and the whole thing is such a tension-filled action-packed mind-blowing event that you’ll never want it to end.

Now I want to reread the sequels.

Bottom line: THIS BOOK IS THE BEST BOOK AND I RECOMMEND IT UNIVERSALLY. Also, by “recommend,” I mean “will foist it upon you by force if necessary.”

currently-reading updates


the answer: probably no.

buddy (re)read with 1/3 of my kik inbox, even tho i'm not 100% sure if she's started yet
Profile Image for Betsy.
Author 8 books2,750 followers
December 10, 2007
How do librarians decide what children's book they want to read next? Well, there are professional reviews, online reviews, and good old-fashioned word of mouth. And when it came to "The Mysterious Benedict Society", I picked up this 486-page tome, turned it about, and then needed a quickie confirmation from somebody as to whether or not I should shell out a significant portion of time to read this puppy. As it happened, a librarian I knew and trusted assured me that it wasn't all that good and that I shouldn't waste my days. Fair enough. I gave away my copy and decided to forget all about it. But then the book's name kept cropping up left and right. Oh, I should really read it! Oh, it's really good! Oh, you haven't read it? What's wrong with you? Eventually, the pressure got to be too much. I couldn't take it any more. As far as I could ascertain I was the only children's librarian in the WORLD who hadn't read "The Mysterious Benedict Society", and that was going to have to change. So I borrowed a library copy, took it home, and fell in love. Once in a while you just want to read a book that's fun. This book is precisely that. Smart and thoroughly a good good read.

Reynie Muldoon doesn't think of himself as extraordinary. He thinks of himself as weird and out of place. An orphan, Reynie and his tutor one day spot an advertisement that reads, "ARE YOU A GIFTED CHILD LOOKING FOR SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES?" He is, as it happens, and that means taking a series of tests. Odd tests. Odd, increasingly peculiar tests that go beyond the classroom, or even the realm of the normal. By the end of the puzzles Reynie has passed, as have three other rather remarkable children. Sticky Washington is a bit of a bookworm, but the kind of kid who never forgets a single fact that he reads. Kate Wetherall is an athletic type who carries a handy bucket with her wherever it is that she goes. And Constance Contraire is very small, very rude, and very stubborn. Together, these kids have been recruited by a Mr. Benedict to infiltrate the very prestigious Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened and discover what it is that the school's devious head is planning. They know that it's evil and dangerous, but beyond that they are out of information. So it is that our four heroes become spies and set out to save the world using their very individual abilities.

I've heard this book referred to as two different stories smooshed together into a single tale. That's not exactly how I'd chose to describe it, but it's a fair assessment. This actually isn't a problem either. If you like the first portion then you are bound to like the second. I was fond of the writing too. Never twee or coy, it comes right to the point of things without sacrificing emotion or character. It can get away with sentences like, "She announced her age right away, for children consider their ages every bit as important as their names." because they are straightforward and true. Stewart can get stuff across without a bunch of overwrought flowery language. "Their mouths went dry as bones," needs no further explanation.

In terms of the sequel, one person I discussed the book with said of it, "I don't feel I need to go back to that world." I agree, in a way. Stewart wraps up his loose ends nicely. Unlike some series for kids, you aren't left with many holes or gaps in the plot. There is certainly room for a follow-up, but if you don't read it you won't feel you've missed something. The important thing to remember is that clever kids like clever tales. For children who like everything from The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin to The Puzzling World of Winston Breen, by Eric Berlin, this is the book for them. Consistently fun and fine, the book whizzes through its 400+ pages so fast that you'll be shocked at how quickly you find yourself at the end.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11k followers
September 18, 2011
I appreciated this book at 500 pages, but would've been REALLY fond of it at only 250. Remove some plod-along-ploddy sections and tighten up a few narrative side tracks and I think you have yourself a big winner for both YA's and those YA at heart.

Ignoring the size for a moment (yes, yes, it matters and we will return to it)...this is charming, smart, well-written story that had me thinking Dickens for Kids based on its engaging yet restrained prose style. It has that cozy feel of well-mannered prim and properness.

Four children, each with a unique ability or attribute, are recruited by the narcoleptic (that’s right, narcoleptic) Mr. Benedict to infiltrate an elite academy called LIVE (the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened). Mr. Benedict has become aware that the head of LIVE, a Mr. behind theCurtain has developed an evil plan to...wait for it:

Now, these four talented misfits are the only hope to stop the dastardly diabolical doings. You have Reynie Muldoon, puzzle-solver and pattern spotter extraordinaire, Kate Wetherall, think female MacGyver with acrobat skills, “Sticky” Washington, photographic memory sans common sense, and Constance Contraire, stubborn as a mule and much less friendly. Together, they must gather clues, piece together puzzles and solve the mystery of Mr. Curtain’s scheme before he is able to implement and…wait for it….

To give a sense of the tone and the prose, here is a brief excerpt from the book that I found amusing. The children are being told by their guide that, unlike other schools, LIVE doesn’t have any rules and explains how the children here can do whatever they want:
You can wear whatever you want, just so long as you have on trousers, shoes, and a shirt. You can bathe as often as you like or not at all, provided you're clean every day in class. You can eat whatever and whenever you want, so long as it's during meal hours in the cafeteria. You're allowed to keep the lights on in your rooms as late as you wish until ten o'clock each night. And you can go wherever you want around the Institute, so long as you keep to the paths and the yellow-tiled corridors.
Okay, onto the whole size thing now. I thought the beginning of the book dealing with the recruitment of the four children and the introduction of Mr. Benedict was superb and I thought I might have found a new winner to add to my YA favorites. I also thought the plot set up and the central mystery/dilemma was interesting and very clever. All good so far.

However, once the children arrive at LIVE, the narrative finds itself bogged down with too many tangents and “plot pauses” to keep the story flowing. These slow downs aren’t horrible because the writing is engaging and the characters are enjoyable, but Mr. Boredom did poke his head in at me a number of times and I could feel him staring at me during stretches of the story. If you chop a chunk of this portion off, I think you have a much better story without losing any of the good stuff.

Overall, I liked it but with the above reservations.
Profile Image for Gregory Baird.
196 reviews750 followers
August 11, 2008
"The Mysterious Benedict Society" owes a large debt to Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events. It is written in the same Dickens-meets-Roald-Dahl style (although it does emphasize Dahl's whimsy over Dickens' occasional bleakness). It features an oddball cast with a broad spectrum of eccentricities and unique physical features. The plot even centers around a group of kids from orphanages attempting to foil the dastardly plans of a villain who seeks to exploit them in his mad quest for domination.

There are good qualities to be found. The first hundred pages or so are very charming, managing to capture the better aspects of its inspirations with ease. Stewart is certainly a capable writer with a great imagination and sense of wit.

But once the titular group has been established and sets off on its first mission things begin to go downhill at an alarming rate. First, things start to get a little too quirky (The villain's dastardly plot for world domination is what now? Wait, another bizarre character/situation/setting for our intrepid heroes to contend with?). Second, said quirks become limiting and mildly irritating (could Constance please stop grumbling for just a second? And while the use of narcolepsy is only slightly amusing at first it gets tiring when both the group's benefactor and the villain keep passing out at key moments. Stewart really should have re-thought that as a character trait). Third, you realize that the book is overly long and overly complex. Yet somehow, despite the myriad twists, turns, and complications, the M.B.S. is remarkably capable of making incredible logical leaps to figure out what is going on. For crying out loud, how long is this charade going to get dragged out, anyway? Then comes the hot mess of an ending. I don't want to spoil anything for those who intend to read this book, so let's just say that the realizations come a little too easily, the escapes are a touch too clean, and the happy endings aren't tacked on so much as beaten in with a sledgehammer. Yet Stewart must also have realized that if he intends this book to become a series he can't tie everything up too neatly, so naturally things are open-ended enough to allow for a sequel. Which is now available in bookstores everywhere ...

I, for one, won't be picking it up.
Profile Image for Luffy.
867 reviews720 followers
January 20, 2021
It's been a long time since I read such an easy book. It's a sibling of Percy Jackson and a cousin twice removed of Harry Potter. I liked it, despite its cluster of weak points.

I'm not going to illuminate any one on these weak points, because it wouldn't increase or impede the next reader's grasp in their read of this book. It's very problematic to make sweeping comments that damn the novel with faint praise.

What's concrete is that the story has some merits that only the biased can deny. The speed of the events coming at you from the horizon is usually constant. The surprises near the end were heartwarming. Recommended for all ages.
Profile Image for Nancy.
Author 32 books1,078 followers
September 19, 2008
What a treat this book was to read! I thoroughly enjoyed it -- the kids were great, the villain and his heinous plot were quite terrifying, and the plot clipped right along. My one small reservation is that somehow I find I am in no rush to read the sequel -- yet this might have simply to do with the fact that the story did clearly end (unlike, say, THE HUNGER GAMES). But basically, I'd recommend MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY to anyone. I plan to give my copy to a bright 11-year old girl I know.
Profile Image for Sarah Grace Grzy.
629 reviews831 followers
November 17, 2017
4.5 stars!

JUST WOW! What on earth did I just read!?

This was a crazy fun wild ride from beginning to end! I wish I had known about these books growing up, and will now definitely hand them off to my younger siblings.

I'm rather sick of the trite, cliche, dumbed-down, and weak junior fiction novels that line the shelves these days. I have very few favorites in that genre because there is just so little good in it. But this is one that I've added to my list of favorites! Unique, deep, fascinating, and "brainy", this breaks all the molds of J-fic!

The characters were all so fantastic, and I quickly became attached to all of them and their journeys. Each of them were distinctive and one-of-a-kind.

The ending was beyond fabulous. It made me cry. And if a J-fic novel can make me cry . . . well, then it's pretty good!

I did dock a half star off my rating because it was SUPER long, and I found myself losing interest in some places. Also, it's pretty . . . outlandish, I guess? Speculative isn't really my thing, so there was some aspects I didn't love. But overall, still 4.5 stars!

Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Hannah.
2,402 reviews1,336 followers
September 1, 2019
I had so much fun reading this clever story! I wasn’t prepared for the amount of suspense in it and I read it in a total of five hours, barely putting it down for necessary tasks. This group is so fun to be around and this definitely isn’t a book just for kids. Squeaky clean; highly recommended.
Profile Image for Kate Willis.
Author 20 books501 followers
October 21, 2018
I had vaguely registered my friends’ glowing reviews of this book, but since it had been compared to something I don’t care to read, I always passed it by at the library. Until I found a copy at the thriftstore and decided that maybe now was the time to give it a try. ;)


It kinda blew me away with its funness and smartness and cleanness and deepness. <3 It actually reminded me a lot of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or The Wingfeather Saga in that regard.

I LOVED the quirky tests at the beginning. Not only were they really clever and fun to read about, but that was some pretty ace character development. O.o. I found myself laughing over the hidden puns, scurrying through the intense parts, and even kinda inwardly gasping at some pretty big reveals. ;) Definitely a lot of surprises! Especially with all those “tiny” details that ended up being really important. I’m still in awe. ;) It was also really cool how each of the children, Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and even troublesome Constance, were shown as important even in their differences, and I think that’s a good lesson for us all.

Reynie was my favorite, though. His honest, Hobbit-y soul and his outlook on life were just the best. <3

Mr. Benedict was my other favorite character. Wise and zany, brave and a little broken himself… I especially loved how he guided and taught Reynie and how the children could always trust him. Something about the way he unconditionally loved them and chose them and worried over them… it got my allegorical wheels turning a little bit. ;)

The themes in this book were just another thing that makes it stand out. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the effect of media on our lives, so the message of rejecting subtle messages (often ones of panic) and being lovers of truth really hit home. ;) Also, friendship and its importance, adoption (*cries happily*), and facing fears/resisting temptation--so much. I’m seriously gonna have to reread this to properly appreciate all of the wonderful depth. <3 (And can we talk about Reynie’s struggle in “A Chess Lesson”? Because, um, that was painfully real and amazing.)

Just a note, because this book features children as secret agents, there are some scary situations and evil adults. “The Waiting Room” was a disgusting, slightly disturbing place, and one of the children is beaten up pretty badly by guards.

Best quote: Reynie was crumbling, on the brink of despair. Mr. Benedict expected him to be a leader to his friends, to be smart enough to devise a plan, to be brave. But he was no kind of leader at all, he knew that now, certainly not brave, and Mr. Benedict felt very far away indeed. More and more, Mr. Curtain seemed like the real man, and Mr. Benedict like a memory from a dream.

Altogether, I loved this clean and fantasticly clever ride, and I’ll definitely be revisiting it again to absorb even further all its amazingness. :D

Also, I have so much love for the last line, those marvelous illustrations, and that red stripe down the side of the cover. <3
Profile Image for Alan.
18 reviews3 followers
February 28, 2009
This is by far the best YA novel that I have read since the Harry Potter books. Characters are great, thoughtful and like nothing I have read before. Even though this book is almost 500 pages long, I have been reading it aloud to my class and they are loving it! Every day I come into class they are asking if we get to read it for the day. I can't wait to get the second one.

Profile Image for breana / milkyboos ♡.
286 reviews1,472 followers
July 5, 2021
yes i am about a decade late to discovering this book series, pls forgive

with its fun riddles, brave characters, and sob-inducing found family moments, it’s no wonder the mysterious benedict society is so many folks’ favorite middle grade series! it’s definitely on its way to becoming one of mine as well :”)
Profile Image for Ann.
510 reviews
December 22, 2007
What a delightful story! It was very difficult to choose a shelf for this book - it's not truly fantasy, but its not just adventure or mystery either. Perhaps a little Sci-Fi more than fantasy? Well, anyway, it was a wonderful book about four children who agree to help save the world. It sounds a little over-done, I know, but it’s really quite sweet and charming. Well-written and with loveable characters and a kindness throughout the book I was enthralled from the first page.
The book isn’t incredibly in-depth – it isn’t Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings – but it is just one book. The characters and plot, while both intriguing and well rounded, do not have quite as many layers as some other works.
However, that said, I still loved the book! The friendships were wonderful and it was so much fun solving the puzzles along with the characters. And, yes, I was still surprised at – not entirely the ending itself – but how the ending came about.
The letters Reynie writes are delightful, and the “morals” of the story are apparent without being annoying.
If you’re at all curious as to what the Mysterious Benedict Society is, then don’t hesitate to find out!:)
(5 stars to the beginning 4 stars to the later half)
We started reading this last night (Katie and I) and I'm so looking forward to the journey! So far the style is intelligent and charming, and the characters 3-deminsional and yet somehow sweetly simplistic.
However, I am only about 10 pages into the book...;>
Profile Image for Sisters Three.
91 reviews85 followers
November 20, 2021
Honestly wasn't my favorite book....but I did find it kind of interesting and little bit long....
Okay, so I finished this book about two or three weeks ago now and I have to say, I have not stopped thinking about it and the more I think the more I understand. I bumped my rating up to four stars and overall like the book more now then I did when I finished it. Though the similarity between our world right now and the book is concerning. I'm not sure how I keep picking up books that people wrote years ago that line up so well with today. But anyway, just wanted to say though the book felt a little long to me it is definitely food for thought...lots of thought.
Profile Image for [S] Bibliophage.
950 reviews858 followers
January 25, 2019
It's almost a month since I've started reading this book. Usually, I could finish a thick book like this within a week or just several days. However, I got bored in the first part because of the slow pacing of the story; I only got hooked on the story from the second half part till the end.

There are at least 4 other books in this series but I'm not sure I will spare time to read them. This first book is like a preview for me if the rest in the series is good or not and I'm a little disappointed with what I've read here.
Profile Image for Marya.
1,343 reviews
April 4, 2008
In the Mysterious Benedict Society, four children with four different problem solving skill sets come together to solve a mystery. Those four children consist of the reader, who has the amazing ability to memorize things; the engineer, who has the amazing ability to create anything to solve the task at hand from materials she carries with her; the baby, whose chief attribute is to be unpredictable and not listen to the rules much less follow them; and the professional puzzle solver, who looks at everything as a riddle needing a solution. The dangerous mystery they must solve can only be done by children because adults are far too complicit in the evil.

Take away the fourth child character, and you're pretty much left with an ungothic Lemony Snicket. There are no great tragedies, the children learn that some adults can very much be trusted (in fact, are necessary to their health and safety), and of course, there is a happy ending. The world has no difficult choices or impossible complexity, and along with that, there is no subtle humor. The book also doesn't have any of the textual play that made Lemony Snicket like a modern day Tristram Shandy. In short, it stripped the Lemony Snicket books of everything I read them for. That's why I couldn't completely finish this book.

On the other hand, I still think younger children (6th grade and under) would find this book charming. They don't read Lemony Snicket for the gothic bits, they read them for the puzzle bits, and in this respect alone, the Mysterious Benedict Society is superior. Not only does it give the reader several fun puzzles, it shows how each child solves that puzzle. As one reviewer pointed out, this can get tiring for the adult readers, but I still think children would find it all good fun.
Profile Image for Eshusdaughter.
594 reviews30 followers
June 22, 2009
Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance are four very gifted children with a mission. They call themselves The Mysterious Benedict Society and together they have to infiltrate the nefarious Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened - a psuedo-school run by the evil Mr. Curtain. It's up to these four disimilar and intrepid kids to save the world and of course they are completely up to the task.

I thnk this book will have broad appeal to under-12s. The length of the book threw me off - it was so long I assumed it was a YA novel but instead it is definitely a kid's book. Along the lines of Lemony Snicket it has the same sort of irrevernt feel and tone. Plausability has no place in this book.

I don't dislike the book but I don't like it either. I think the plot was too simplistic. The book is too long, with little point, the plot is at times circuitous and the characters show little to no character growth, they are the same in the end as when you met them. The bad-guys are cookie cutter baddies with cardboard personalties and evil or thuggish for the sake of being evil or thuggish. There's no great lesson in these pages. I find little of substance in it at all to be honest. There were a couple good lines, some good description and, at least at first, I found the characters quirky and appealing.

In a book this size I expect to see some character growth and I think that more than anything is what irks me. There is no real change. It's all surface for the characters. They beat the bad guy, win the day and *poof* everything is happy and wonderful. It feels trite and simplistic.
Profile Image for charlottewitch.
21 reviews
March 23, 2021
This is my first review, so I apologize in advance 😂

"The only way fears truly disappear is if you confront them."

Mr Benedict, needs help for this super secret spy mission.. but they have to be super smart, and they have to be kids, so what does he do? Well he puts an add in the newspaper that says, "ARE YOU A GIFTED CHILD LOOKING FOR SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES?" So obviously there are thousands of kids that apply, but they have to go through 3 different tests, and each time kids get eliminated. The four kids who make it through, are all very different, and they don't all get along. But they have to work together to solve the mission, and save the world.

After reading this book I felt incredibly dumb, I mean these kids are all younger than me, and can solve all these puzzles and stuff, that I couldn't even remotely understand. Like, "Time is shorter than we thought. Thus to get what must be got, you must become what you are not" was sent to them IN MORSE CODE and they all figured out that they needed to "become" in like 5 minutes.

Also, at the beginning of each chapter, there was a little picture along with the title, which I thought was super cute :)

Mr Benedict -
Super funny, gives me Charles Xavier vibes. Esspecially at these parts:
"I will now anticipate your other questions"
"With a shrug, shake of his head, and an affectionate smile he said, 'Reynie, my good friend, you are most entirely welcome'"

Constance -
Super funny, and very stubborn. I think out of all the characters she was the least developed, and we didn't learn too much about her.

Sticky -
I wish I had his memory, I literally have short memory loss, and he's just over here memorizing things without even trying.

Kate -
She was a little annoying at times, and very blunt. But she's super strong, and very resourceful.

Reynie -
Such a cinnamon roll, super sweet, and very smart

When I was reading this book I was like "wow this is kinda like X-Men":
Mr Benedict = Professer X
The 4 kids in the book call themselves the mysterious Benedict society, and in the X-Men movies they call themselves the X-Men.
Both groups of kids get taken to a mansion
Mr. Benedict and Professer X both look for gifted kids
(however it could just be me fangirling, and making me see everything as related to Marvel)

Overall, This book was a super fun, cute, and funny read. It was nice to read something more cheerful after The Whisper Man.

I hope this review wasn't too bad, and I hope you all have a wonderful day!! :)
-- Thank you to Ayla, ATheReader, and Aahana for the tips on reviewing!! --
Profile Image for George Jankovic.
140 reviews86 followers
October 22, 2017
What a wonderful book!

I loved the puzzles and the mysteries. I loved the friendship. I loved the suspense. And I adored the three of the four main characters. I expected more from Costance until she stunned me.

Most of the time, I found myself worried that something bad would happen to these wonderful characters: Reynie, Sticky, Kate and Constance. And I felt so sad for the guys like Milligain.

I couldn't stop reading it. I kept reading as fast as ever to see what would happen next.

Five stars. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Ginger.
753 reviews373 followers
November 2, 2017
DNF at 37%. This book wasn't terrible but it wasn't good either for someone older then 12. The book seemed too long for a kids book. I never got back to this book and I didn't really care to over the last few months. Maybe I'll pick it up again one day.
Profile Image for Angus (Just Angus).
224 reviews464 followers
July 13, 2021
Okay so how did I only just discover this series in 2021. This is just SO MUCH FUN. I love the characters, the puzzles, the quirky writing. The most fun I've had reading middle fiction in a long time! Definitely a new favourite.
Profile Image for Jenna.
Author 2 books154 followers
May 16, 2022
I don’t often read middle grade but I love the simplicity of this book. It’s just pure fun with a gripping plot and quirky characters. This story had me smiling.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,244 reviews
December 23, 2007
I'VE FINISHED THE BOOK: My initial impressions (and review comments) were overwhelmingly enthusiastic. I admit that the second half of the book did not quite live up to my hopes/expectations but I'd still give the book four stars overall (five stars for the beginning--see comments below). I felt that the second half of the story (once the children officially embark on their mission and become The Mysterious Benedict Society) was not as captivating, mainly because I found a great deal of the charm in the first half was found in the character descriptions/development and the little mysteries and puzzles the children had to solve. Once they embark on their mission, the characters they encounter become more one-dimensional and also the character development of the children is rather forgotten for awhile in the attempt to describe the great mystery/challenge they must face and thwart (and, also, I was not ultra-engrossed in that particular element of the story). Ultimately, the climax was still interesting and exciting and it had a very tidy and happy ending (much more a typical "children's book" in that respect than, say, Harry Potter) and I would recommend this to those wishing a pleasant and easy read (though a few of the puzzles in the beginning weren't that easy for me!) about a diverse and entertaining group of orphans who must save the world and find a way to feel loved and to belong in it if they do.

UPDATE: ABOUT 2/3 DONE--CONTINUES CHARMING!!!! SO FAR, RECOMMENDED TO ANYONE MISSING STORIES ABOUT CHILDREN AT INTERESTING SCHOOLS NEEDING TO FIGURE OUT A MYSTERY AND "SAVE THE WORLD" (NOT THAT IT'S "HAPPY POTTER" BY ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION, BUT IF YOU MISS HARRY THIS CHRISTMAS, TRY THIS BOOK!) It is sooo captivating, I adore the characters (even if one is highly annoying!) and the mystery/suspense is excellent--tantalizing instead of irritating in its unfolding and (as of yet) relative vagueness. I can't believe that this book simply appeared randomly on Amazon as I was searching for something else--truth is, THIS is the type of book I've been looking for! So far, it is a good consolation for missing Harry Potter--it's not really similar, yet has its own style about students and orphans and children who must do amazing things.
**Intelligent in content yet sweetly simple in style; the characters already seem quite real--this is an author who seems to remember/understand childhood. I'm excited to continue the imaginative journey...**
Profile Image for Els.
283 reviews2 followers
April 8, 2021
Re-read April '21 - did I just neglect an entire lab report in favor of reading a 500-page children's book? abslutely. I've been searching for this comfort-read series since we moved, and I finally found it! (in the middle of an honours genetics zoom lecture but hey, I was desperate). Still just as lovely. Very ticked off that I once again forgot how to find Mr. Benedict's name (do I know it? obviously. Do I remember how I found it? marginally. and it isn't. in. the hardcover.)

First read:
This was SO GOOD AHHH small child me would have adored it. Big me just hummed along ('cause big me actually knew about the Azerbaijan dispute and the common vetch. ;) ) I loved solving the puzzles before the kids got to them, though it DID take me a ridiculously long time to get Mr. Benedict's first name. I, being the child who memorized entire textbooks on code, learned Ojibway and two other code languages to chat with friends, and wrote entire journals crammed full of codes I have now forgotten, tried 'most a hundred code tricks on that letter of his before I realized the book was written for slightly more normal small humans and found the answer glaring at me when I slammed the book shut. Ugh.

ANYWAY. This was almost as good as Mistress Masham's Repose, without having Lilliputians, which is saying something.
Profile Image for E.F. Buckles.
Author 1 book8 followers
August 24, 2019
I may have long ago aged out of the Middle Grade book market, but there will always be a soft spot in my heart for their stories. The Mysterious Benedict Society was loved and recommended to me by multiple Goodreads friends, so I’d been curious about it for a long time before I thought to check and see if it might be on audio so I could read it sooner than I otherwise might have been able to.

I was pleased to discover that the hype was real and I enjoyed this story very much. Along with being mystery of sorts, The Mysterious Benedicts Society is about what makes us different, even odd, and celebrating that. Each child was uniquely talented and they needed to work together in order to overcome the challenges that were thrown at them. Their personalities clashed sometimes, as happens in real life, but the author did a great job of showing them overcoming that and trying to understand each other. We really need more stories that do this.

The adults were also present, intelligent, and uniquely talented, which is always a plus. Sometimes, children’s stories fall into the trap that, in order for the kids to shine, the adults have to all be really dumb, evil, or just plain not around. While there are some stories that handle the lack of adults (usually parents) in a way that is fine, there are some that take it to a point of being condescending to kids and disrespectful to good, upstanding adults. There *were* some evil adults in this story, and a couple of not-great parents but it wasn’t *all* the adults or parental figures, so I was fine with the way it was handled.

The only reason I took a star off is because the middle of the story, when the kids were at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, got a little slow for me and I found myself tuning out here and there, yet not feeling I’d missed much, and just wanting to get to the story climax. I had no other issues with the story, though, and thoroughly enjoyed it despite that slower bit. The climax itself was very exciting and satisfying and I loved how things turned out.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book for readers young and old.

Content advisory:

Zero swearing, sexual content, or spiritual content.

Violence: There are many threats of harm to children and adults alike, but these threats are being beat up or “brain swept” (having your memory erased so the villain can use you as a henchman), never being killed. (Though it is stated that the adult guardian would give his life for the children if he had to.) One girl gets zapped with an electrical stunner thing that she says hurt pretty bad, and the other children are threatened with the same device, but then are rescued by their adult guardian. Several people get roughed up during the story, most often, Mulligan, the children’s guardian, but one of the girls gets beaten up by a very mean girl at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened who caught her trying to help thwart the villain’s plans. This one incident is described in terms of fists flying and some pain, but the girl is ultimately okay despite bruises and scratches on her face.

Other: Parents and caretakers may want to be aware that all but one of the children who are the main characters of this book are orphans. Two of the children’s parents died, one thinks her father abandoned her and the one who isn’t an orphan ran away from home because he thought his parents loved the money his intelligence brought them more than they loved him. . I mention this because, I’ve heard of very young children sometimes having anxiety around the idea of parental loss, so wanted to make note of it so people can be aware, just in case.

There is a room at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened where the children are sent when they disobey that is a very unpleasant place to be. One of the main characters is forced to spend hours alone there and he says there’s mud and spiders. He’s physically unharmed by the experience, but emotionally upset by it.

Profile Image for Christy.
124 reviews52 followers
August 2, 2008
Trenton Lee Stewart seems unafraid to pick up a few children’s lit archetypes: four remarkable and lovable children (albeit one slightly less lovable than the others), missing parental figures, the kind male guardian, the boarding house/ evil school scenario, and themes of mind control and world domination. But within the archetypes, Stewart creates his own brand of magic. One becomes fond of Reynie Muldoon’s human perception, Sticky Washington’s nervous glasses cleaning habit, Constance Contraire’s irritability (can you guess the reason for this?), and Kate Wetherall’s acrobatic maneuvering and endlessly helpful red bucket.
The intelligent writing, Carson Ellis’s charming illustrations, the in-text puzzles, and memorable characters like Kate Wetherall make this book a must-read for those interested in children’s lit. As soon as I finished the book, I ran out to buy the sequel.

Profile Image for Andrea Cox.
Author 3 books1,637 followers
August 7, 2019
The hype is real, y’all! This is perhaps the most intriguing, unique, and creative children’s adventure book I’ve ever read. I’m nearly thirty-two, and I was quite entertained throughout, so I think this book would be a wonderful one for the whole family. It’s super clean too, which makes it easy to read aloud; there’s nothing to worry about filtering out for sensitive ears of any age. I’m eager to track down copies of the rest of the series’ books.
Profile Image for Millie Florence.
Author 3 books117 followers
November 8, 2018
Do you have a favorite book?
Yes, I know a lot of people could never choose, I have seen the memes. 😂
However... I do have a favorite. (Or at least a favorite in modern middle grade fiction) And it’s this one that you see above you. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.
I love this book! Why?
Because it’s adventurous and well written. The characters are real, funny and charming. The plot has a deeper metaphorical meaning, but can also be enjoyed just for the story itself. Its deep in the right places and lighthearted in the right places. It’s reminiscent of a classic book, without any modern angst or drama. The themes are about family, love, friendship, and personal growth. The stakes are high, and the main characters, although imperfect and human, handle their task with heroic and believable grace, maturity and loyalty. The beginning pulled me in. The middle had me on the edge of my seat. The ending left me tearful and with all the warm-and-fuzzies.
This is the sort of book I want to write some day. The book I’m always trying to write.
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