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

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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  61,882 ratings  ·  6,545 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Betsy
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
Stephen
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
...more
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
Ann
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
...more
Nancy
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.
Alan
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.

Enjoy!
Marya
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
Christy
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
Tapestrymlp
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
...more
Anikethv3
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathryn
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
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!
Salymar
"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
...more
Emily
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 themselves...wow, 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
...more
Priscilla
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.

I
...more
Alexis
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
...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
...more
Zoe


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, K
...more
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
nicole
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.
Mainon
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
Jenn
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: ..-. ..- -.!
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.
Miss Clark
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Isaac
It was EXCELLENT! I have to read the whole series now...

Each character is an awesomely exaggerated caricature of a trait recognized in Gifted children: Contrariness/stubbornness, good with puzzles, good at remembering material we have read only once, very resourceful, etc. I think that may be the best young adult novel I have read since T.A. Barron's Lost Years of Merlin series. It definitely surpassed Harry Potter and Hunger Games, in my opinion. Of course, since I grew up in Gifted classes, I
...more
Yvonne
That was a great read, very entertaining even for an adult.

What I liked:

- interesting characters that were multi-dimensional
- the book shows in an entertaining way how important friendship is... and that everyone can find friends, even if they are different from most people. You just need to find the right people. And friends don't have to be like you, they just have to accept you.
- through the introduction of a character that doesn't know a lot of things and one who is a walking encyclopaedia
...more
Philip
May 30, 2011 Philip rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Philip by: Gracie E.r
Shelves: children, young-adult
I always wished I was a gifted child - nearly as much as I wish I were a gifted adult.

Reynie (Reynard) Muldoon sees an ad for gifted children and (being a quite gifted child) applies for the position - which vaguely promises "Special Opportunities."

I won't tell you whether he gets the job or not, (view spoiler) but I will tell you it follows Reynie and three others on an adventure where everything is an unknown test, and they can't afford to fail.

In an e
...more
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Would you want to try the Test? 40 189 Dec 09, 2014 11:43AM  
Who are you most like, and who do you want to be most like. 15 34 Sep 27, 2014 07:13PM  
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I loved this book! 25 68 May 27, 2014 12:44AM  
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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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“You must remember, family is often born of blood, but it doesn't depend on blood. Nor is it exclusive of friendship. Family members can be your best friends, you know. And best friends, whether or not they are related to you, can be your family.” 1121 likes
“Rules and school are tools for fools! I don't give two mules for rules.” 205 likes
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