To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyses reviews to verify trustworthiness.
This just wasn't for me, for some reason...I found the characters a bit bizarre and didn't really relate to any of them very well. It's one of the few series where I found I have no interest in reading the next book. Still, it was well written and had some interesting ideas in it, it may well just not be my cup of tea.
Guys (I'm from Jersey and when we say "guys," we mean "everyone," :), I'm so surprised that I didn't love this book. I haven't been this wrong about a book in a long time. I mean, it has a fun title, a whimsical cover and illustrations, secret tunnels, a master villain, the word "mysterious" in the title, etc. What's not to love?
Well...I liked a couple of the main characters, Reynie and Kate. Sticky and Constance were less fun, but still interesting. Four kids who are on their own for one reason or another, but are each resourceful and creative in different ways. They all pass a very unique test and end up as secret agents for the good guy--Mr. Benedict--who is trying to stop the bad guy, Mr. Curtain, from basically taking over the world. To accomplish this, the wise Mr. Benedict sends the four vulnerable children to the grim island school where Mr. Curtain lives, works, and attempts to brainwash the world. A majority of the book took place while the kids were trapped on the island.
Guys, it was bleak. So bleak and depressing that I literally stopped reading the book 75% of the way through and put it down for about 2 years. Not only was it bleak on the island, but not a lot that was interesting happened, either. I finally came back to the book only because I hate to leave books unfinished and I wondered if the book found happiness in the end. Poor, sad book. Eventually, things worked themselves out, and you can tell that Stewart is actually a very talented writer who genuinely tried to insert humor into the book, but it just didn't work for me. The Series of Unfortunate Events books are depressing, yet still somehow funny, perhaps because they're more over-the-top than the Benedict Society books. This book was kind of like 1984 on an island, at a school, for young adults. Very dystopian and grim. My advice? Read The Clockwork Sparrow instead, an utterly delightful and actually mysterious YA lit book that I've also just finished recently. One of the better ones I've read in awhile :).
This is a review of the Audio CD for "The Mysterious Benedict Society". The book itself is interesting--blending puzzles, riddles, brain teasers and genuine suspense. The Audio CD, however, is a disappointment. Unlike, say, the Harry Potter series where Jim Dale literally acts out the parts and creates an alternate reality, Del Roy simply reads the book out loud. He has a pleasant voice, but repetitive inflections and not much in the way of vocal characterizations. The plot itself will keep kids entertained while listening in the car, but it's nothing you couldn't do yourself (if you could read and drive at the same time). In terms of the actual plot, my 9-year old son was enthralled--I thought there were some clever ideas, but not terribly well-written. On the whole, the book is very good, but the audio book is pedestrian.
I read this to my 8 year old son who is usually riveted by just about any good book, but this was boring to both of us. We're an adoptive family and didn't care for the overused emphasis on the use of orphans. He loved the Percy Jackson and the Olympians so much that he took over reading them on his own and also enjoyed Harry Potter while he was quite a bit younger than now. I would skip this series and head toward the Percy Jackson.
Well, I've given up on this book after 100 pages. I simply can't go on. To me, for a book to be enjoyable, especially a fantasy book, it must be believable. From the outset there were too many unbelievable details that killed it for me. I'll name a few.
1) You cannot remove a sewer grate with the screwdriver of a Swiss-army knife, period. Furthermore, I doubt any twelve year old girls can even lift a sewer grate. Go and try. You'll see what I mean.
2) I don't believe that Reynie (the main character) could possibly be the only child, presumably of hundreds, who figured out the chess question. No doubt at least some of the other test-takers were truly gifted and probably chess nuts. At least one of them would have figured it out.
3) In the same vein, how on earth is it that from among all of these gifted children only Reynie figured out that the test was a puzzle? Also, the other children's reaction to the test was absurdly overblown and unbelievable.
4) I don't believe you can roll around a floor balanced on a bucket unless the bucket is of the non-conical variety. Most are conical. Also, I doubt an average bucket would support even a twelve-year-old's weight. Also, it was convenient that the handle could be "unscrewed." I've never seen a bucket with such a handle, and I'm a bit of a connoisseur of buckets.
5) If Reynie is so smart, why didn't he figure out that Rhonda was trying to fool him into cheating and was in on the test? I did, and I'm not so smart.
6) There is no reason to believe that most ventilations systems will automatically lead to the back of a house. That is absurd. Furthermore, you cannot remove the grate of an outlet from the inside without kicking it and making a huge racket, unless it is improperly installed. Of course, the very notion of crawling through a ventilation system is absurd to begin with, so I suppose this doesn't matter.
One more thing, the idea of children being disappeared is too close to the masterful "The Golden Compass" for my taste.
I could go on if I looked at the book, but that's all I can think of off the top of my head. Anyhow, I quit. I had high hopes for this book because it was a best-seller and seemed like a good premise. But missing details like this is just sloppy, lazy writing and editing.