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The Mysterious Benedict Society (The Mysterious Benedict Society #1)

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  67,867 ratings  ·  6,842 reviews
"Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" ad attracts dozens for mind-bending tests readers may try. Only two boys and two girls succeed for a secret mission, undercover and underground into hidden tunnels. At the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, the only rule is - there are no rules.
Hardcover, 495 pages
Published March 7th 2007 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2007)
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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 ...more
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
Rick Riordan
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 ...more
Gregory Baird
Aug 10, 2008 Gregory Baird rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events
"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 domi ...more
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 incr
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.
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.

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 ...more
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
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 Contrai ...more
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 char ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jackie "the Librarian"
Dec 15, 2007 Jackie "the Librarian" rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: puzzle lovers
Four brilliant orphans are recruited by a Mr. Benedict, who needs their help to discover who is behind a plot to rule the world. The best thing about this book are the logic puzzles the kids have to solve to get invited into the Benedict Society - readers can figure out solutions at the same time the characters do. I really found myself rooting for those plucky orphans, each with their own unique personalities and skills. Go orphans! Save the world!
"What's wrong with this statement?" -The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Mysterious Benedict Society is probably the best Holiday-read ever! It's a combination of the Harry Potter adventures and The Series of Unfortunate Events! Specifically, I felt that the mystery which made this book an ultimate page-turner is very similar to the Harry Potter series and the characters are akin to The Series of Unfortunate Events, especially Mr Benedict, who reminds me of Lemony Snicket's Uncle Monty.

Mr. Benedi
There's something a bit Roald Dahl-ish about this book in that it has a fairly preposterous story (children infiltrating an institute run by an evil genious baddie, to thwart his plan to take over the world), and a rather light tone. Yet it's also not quite Dahl-ish in a couple ways; despite the evil genious plot the book is permeated with a sense of kindness and is full of deeply nice people (which is good). It's also long and rambling (less good). Dahl could have wrapped the story up neatly an ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
This isn't a bad read for the YA market. The premius is one that I liked but I wonder if kids can follow it (any more). Yes I know...I sound condescending, sorry. The book's protagonists are gifted kids who aren't really interested in TV and think for, if only. They love "truth" (that has become a somewhat flexable word of late).

All kidding aside a nice book. Books where the "outsider" kids are the heroes (like this one)are much more common now. I suppose some of that might be
I loved this book! It is such an interesting idea which makes for a very interesting plot! The characters were lovable (I just loved Constance, despite her stubbornness) and realistic. I really would say that this book series is as good as Harry Potter! Read it!
A fun, whimsical read! The writing style reminded me of Roald Dahl, bringing me back to the good ol' MG days *sigh*

Initial thoughts:
1. Loved the writing style. Nostalgia <3
2. Really enjoyed the characters. Heavy in character development and growth. Each of the main characters were unique and fresh.
3. The middle of the plot was a bit slow, and convoluted. The urgency in The Mission didn't quite match the pacing in the middle.
4. Love the illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. AWESOME.


The Mysterious Benedict Society is an absolute delight to read. Filled with clever riddles, twists, and memorable characters, you won't be able to resist following Stewart's characters as they crack codes and go on secret missions.
"Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?"
It's this very news article that attracts children from across the country to come take a series of intricate test. But in the end, it's only four children who succeed - Reynie Muldoon, Sticky Washington,
I'm reading this one aloud to my boys (5 and 7) they are loving it so far. We are about 2/3 of the way through. The first half was excellent. The characters aren't as developed as I would like and the overall plot is dragging a bit right now. But the kids are still captivated. GREAT MORAL LESSONS for kids here; think honesty, good sportsmanship, and especially integrity.

Update: The boys loved it. Both boys gave the book five stars. I gave it three. It got off to a roaring start, excellent charac
was this a sci-fi, a dystopian, a fantasy? To be honest it was any of those! And that is why I liked it so much, it was kind of like the wolves of willoughby chase yet even more obscure and interesting. It's hard to explain what this book is about, you'll just have to read it yourself, its very exciting. It deals with orphans, technology...sort of (yet the book doesn't seem to be based in the future?)a school and a mission! One of the weirdest, most interesting, most lovable and captivating book ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Mar 08, 2014 Ivonne Rovira rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of misfits on a dangerous mission
Whether you are the type of adult who will enjoy this novel depends on the type of child you were. Gawky, studious, overly earnest outsiders will adore The Mysterious Benedict Society. If you were popular, athletic, or a rebellious Goth, this book is sooooo not for you.

While Trenton Lee Stewart’s first novel in what is so far a series of three has been compared to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, I find the bulk of the book more reminiscent of the late E.L. Konigsburg’s The View from Saturday
Jonathan Peto
A lot of people really seem to love this book. I noted many good points and am envious of those readers who were unaffected by its plodding pace, but that severely limited its appeal to me. The extraordinarily slow beginning and middle contained details I enjoyed, but they did not build up in such a way that I was completely enchanted and all was forgiven. For me, the power of the good things, the power of the whole, was weakened by details that bordered on filler. And I do not require a breakne ...more
Having quit this book half-way through, you might think I dislike it. I don't. It's a great book, especially if you're, you know, between the ages of eight and twelve. But I'm not. So it felt pretty tedious (example: you know, how at the end of the first three Harry Potter books Dumbledore's all "here, let's take a two chapters to explain everything that just happened" and it feels kinda cheap because you're not braindead and all that? Well, like HP, this is a great story, but there's a wholleee ...more
Julie S.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Wow! What a fantastic book. Going into it I didn't really know what it was about or what to expect from it, so it was really fun to read! I picked it up because my friends said I needed to read it. So I did :)
I don't want to give too much away, but it's about a group kids who go and take a bunch of tests, but only four kids will complete all of the tests. And then they join the Mysterious Benedict Society.
The whole story is a little weird (but not anymore so than Series of Unfortunate Events),
For those of you who don't know, my husband passed away recently. That first night without him, I stayed in the room of the 11-year-old daughter of some family friends. I had been reading some vaguely depressing novel on my Kindle prior to the news, and obviously was in no shape to go back to that, but I badly needed an escape from the overwhelming sense of loss. Fortunately, the daughter's bookshelf was crammed with children's/young adult literature, which was the perfect thing for me in my zom ...more
Dec 10, 2008 Jenn rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everybody
Shelves: kids-lit
I just finished reading this book and I enjoyed it very much. Although the book is over 485 pages long, the chapters are short, so it's easy to read several at a time. The story is quirky and strange, and filled with riddles and puzzles - very engaging!

You'll even learn a bit of Morse code while you're reading.

In a word: ..-. ..- -.!
Kendra Ardnek
I just stayed up way too late reading this.
Neal Shusterman
I started reading this book aloud with my daughters, and although it was very clever and quirky, none of us were interested enough to finish it. I found that the characters were very one-dimensional, and unrealistic. True, it's a fantasy, but the characters didn't ring true enough for us to care, no matter how clever the story.
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Trenton Lee Stewart is the author of the award-winning, bestselling Mysterious Benedict Society series for young readers, as well the adult novel Flood Summer. He lives with his family in Little Rock, Arkansas.
More about Trenton Lee Stewart...

Other Books in the Series

The Mysterious Benedict Society (3 books)
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey (The Mysterious Benedict Society, #2)
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma (The Mysterious Benedict Society, #3)
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey (The Mysterious Benedict Society, #2) The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma (The Mysterious Benedict Society, #3) The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict (The Mysterious Benedict Society, #0.5) The Mysterious Benedict Society Collection (The Mysterious Benedict Society, #1-3) The Mysterious Benedict Society: Mr. Benedict's Book of Perplexing Puzzles, Elusive Enigmas, and Curious Conundrums

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