Book Review 1: Mysterious Benedict Society
Mysterious Benedict Society and the prisoners’ dilemma
By: Trenton Lee Stewart
Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure
- Reynard “Reynie” Muldoon is an eleven-year-old boy living at Stonetown Orphanage. He is exceptionally talented at problem solving, logical deduction, and reading people’s emotions, and his brains have resulted in the assignment of a special tutor, Miss Perumal. Reynie looks between the lines, observing and questioning, and gets past most obstacles by finding the “puzzle” within the situation. He is described as an especially average-looking boy with average brown hair, average pale complexion, and average clothes.
- George “Sticky” Washington is a dark-skinned boy with a bald head. He is also eleven. He has a prodigious photographic memory and a talent for speed-reading. He is, however, timid and nervous and resorts to polishing his glasses in stressful situations. He ran away from his parents because they forced him into academic competitions and because he later had reason to think that they no longer wanted him around at all.
- Kate “The Great Kate Weather Machine” Wetherall is a twelve-year-old girl who is resourceful and athletic, possessing extreme agility skills and dexterity bordering on the superhuman. She has fair hair and skin. She carries a red bucket containing various items, including a Swiss Army knife, a flashlight, a pen light, rope, a bag of marbles, a slingshot, a spool of clear fishing twine, one pencil and eraser, a horseshoe magnet and a spyglass disguised as a kaleidoscope. She is very cheerful and optimistic. Kate’s mother died when she was a baby, and she believes that her father abandoned her.
- Constance Contraire is a small, extremely intelligent, precocious, stubborn and often unpleasant girl. She has the ability to write clever and whimsical poems, and her ultra-sensitive mind is also the most severely affected by the hidden messages transmitted by the Whisperer. She is shown at the end of the book to be 2, but she still argues, ‘I am almost three’.
- Ledroptha Curtain is the antagonist of the story and the head of the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened (L.I.V.E.). Mr. Curtain created the Whisperer and other inventions in order to brainsweep all the world’s minds, as part of a scheme in which he will control the world and be declared “Minister And Secretary of all The Earth’s Regions” (M.A.S.T.E.R.) Partway through the story, he is revealed to be Mr. Benedict’s twin brother. He uses a modified wheelchair to get around, due to his narcolepsy, a condition he shares with his brother. However, unlike his brother, his narcolepsy is triggered by anger, whereas Mr. Benedict’s narcolepsy is triggered by happiness and laughing.
- Nicholas Benedict-also known as Mr. Benedict- is the person who started the whole thing and brought the children together. He is the one who wants to stop Ledroptha Curtain’s Whisperer. He has narcolepsy like his twin, which is triggered by feeling strong emotion. He is very reluctant to let the children go on a dangerous mission, but when reminded there is no other way, he lets them go. He leaves a note to the reader at the end of the book saying that to find his first name, “if you are acquainted with the code, the I assure you that the answer lies within your grasp. “The key word in the note to the Reader is “code” and the phrase “answer lies within your grasp.” In hardback versions of the book, a Morse Code sequence appears on the inside of the book jacket underneath the author’s name and blurb, literally where a typical reader would be holding the book. In paperback versions, there is a Morse Code sequence on the back cover of the book, underneath the plot description.
The Mysterious Benedict Society:
After seeing a newspaper advertisement about a test for gifted and talented children, Reynie decided to take on the competition with the consent of Miss Perumal. The written test contained many strange questions regarding logic, honesty, bravery etc. He was the only one in the class to pass the test and was given a venue to follow-up more test the next day where he met a former student of Nicholas Benedict, Rhonda, who lost her pencil into the drain. Reynie broke his pencil into half and gave one half of the pencil. After which, she offered Reynie the answers to the test which Reynie refused till the end of the test. The test was incredibly hard but there was a pattern which only he figured out. He was the only one who passed the test and was given another venue to go to where he meets Sticky, Kate, Constance who had passed the tests too.
They were invited to the home of Mr. Benedict a kind, clever, elderly man suffering from narcolepsy, who presents them all with a task to do. He tells them that by using subliminal messaging hidden in television a man named as the “Sender” can make people believe things causing them to imagine that there is an “Emergency” where there isn’t one. One example of a hidden message is “The missing aren’t missing, they’ve only departed”, which causes people to ignore the disappearances of others. Mr. Benedict tells them that the one sending these messages is a Mr. Curtain, the principal of L.I.V.E. (The Living Institute for the Very Enlightened), a school on an island off the coast of their city of Stonetown. Reynie thought about L.I.V.E being spelt opposite as E.V.I.L.
The children were enrolled into the school and discovered that the messages were sent out by the Messengers in the school who were once students and were promoted. They discovered that the Executives carried out orders for Mr. Curtain. One of the Executives, S.Q Pedalian, was the only one who was kind to the Mysterious Benedict Society.
The children communicated with Mr. Benedict with a flashlight using Morse Code. The children were able to uncover the evil plans of Mr. Curtain and Mr. Benedict was able to shut down the whisperer but Mr. Curtain and the Executives he trusted managed to get away.
Book Review 2: Mysterious Benedict Society and the perilous journey
- TEN MEN: They are the henchmen of Mr. Curtain who were said to have ten different ways to hurt a child.
The story begins at Kate farmhouse, where the Mysterious Benedict Society decides to visit Mr. Benedict. When they arrive at Mr. Benedict’s house, they receive bad news from Rhonda that Mr. Benedict and Number Two have been kidnapped by Ledroptha Curtain, the villain and twin brother of Mr. Benedict. In his ransom letter, Mr. Curtain describes a certain “rare plant” and says he needs to know the identity of a person “extremely close” to Mr. Benedict, because that person has information about this mysterious plant. If this information is not provided to him, Mr. Benedict’s and Number Two’s lives would be in jeopardy. Constance reveals that Mr. Benedict gave her a letter before he was kidnapped, and told her to open it when the other children arrived. The envelope contains a message of greeting from Mr. Benedict, and a riddle. In solving the riddle, they discover that the words are in alphabetical order. This leads them to a dictionary, and then a journal – in which is another riddle. The children discern it to mean TAKE THE SHORTCUT. The children sneaked off on the SHORTCUT, the “fastest ship in the world” and find more information that takes them to a castle in Portugal. From there, hidden evidence directs them to a library. There they learn that the “mysterious plant” is called duskwort and is extremely rare – possibly extinct. It has the power, when burned in fire, to put entire villages to sleep for hours on end. It also is a possible antidote to Mr. Benedict’s narcolepsy Researching the duskwort, they find that no one knows what it looks like. They travel to a hotel, but are found by two of Mr. Curtain’s henchmen, called the “TEN MEN”. Fortunately, they were rescued by Milligan, who accompanies them to find more of the mountain on the evidence. They finally find the location of the duskwort – an abandoned island. On the island they find a delirious Number Two, who tells them where Mr. Benedict was: the top island. They are ambushed by a group of “TEN MEN”. Milligan comes to the rescue, and takes on the Ten Men. The children travel to the top of the mountain, while Milligan was backed off a fifty-foot cliff and falls into mud. They discover Mr. Benedict chained to the wall in a cave. He begs them to destroy the duskwort. Upon the children saying they don’t know what it looks like, he jumps up and reveals himself to be Mr. Curtain, and locks the children to the wall with the real Mr. Benedict. Mr. Curtain leaves after Mr. Benedict tells him where the duskwort was. Mr. Benedict cleverly tricks S.Q. Pedalian into unlocking their handcuffs, and they get away. Mr. Benedict falls asleep from narcolepsy, and the children are forced to carry him down the mountain. They find Milligan (extremely injured) and Mr. Benedict comes back from his deep snooze too. They race to the forest with Ten Men are surrounding them everywhere, in addition to Mr. Curtain’s amphibious vehicle being hot on their trail. Just when all seems lost, the mighty figure of the SHORTCUT races into the bay at top speed. It grounds on the shore, allowing the children to climb on board. “TEN MEN” manage to board the ship, as well, and attach an explosive to the door of the security hold where the children, Milligan, Mr. Benedict, and all the other people in the ship are hiding. Kate jumps up and runs to the door, detaching the explosive and running up onto the deck. As it was about to explode, she tosses the explosive over the railing, away from the boat, and also away from the escaping villains.
Book Review 3: Mysterious Benedict society and the prisoners’ dilemma.
Summary: A mysterious blackout engulfed the city of stonetown into total darkness. The Mysterious Benedict Society members, Reynie, Sticky and Kate were on the trail of the clue left behind by the TEN MEN. Kate decides to go and follow the TEN MEN while Reynie and Sticky went to the library to find Constance. However, when Reynie and Sticky found Constance, Reynie suspects that the clue left behind by the TEN MEN was a trap leading them to be caught. Will the young members of the Mysterious Benedict Society be able to turn the tables at Ledroptha Curtain? Or will Ledroptha Curtain get away scot-free again?
Biography of author, Trenton Lee Stewart.
Trenton Lee Stewart (born 1970) is a bestselling author for both children and adults. He also teaches creative writing. He graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He lives with his wife in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he is inspired by his two sons. Apart from writing he loves to read, watch movies, take long walks and he also spends a lot of his time being mysterious! His favorite books were books about children in very difficult circumstances on an adventure. They also include: Watership Down by Richard Adams and The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien. His favorite superhero is Spiderman.
The idea for The Mysterious Benedict Society came from his belief that children are often seen, rarely heard, and always underestimated!
He has written:
- Flood Summer (2005)
- The Mysterious Benedict Society (2007)
- The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey (2008)
- The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma (2009)
Information from Wikipedia
~lives with his wife and two sons in Little Rock, Arkasas
~is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop