Monday, 24 October 2011
Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey
Author: Trenton Lee Stewart
Illustrator: Diana Sudyka
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: May 1st, 2008
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Adventure, Mystery
After a year apart, the members of the Mysterious Benedict Society are about to finally reunite. Mr. Benedict has planned a surprise for them that will provide them with a safe chance for adventure and challenge. However, things change unexpectedly when Mr. Benedict and Number Two are kidnapped by Mr. Curtain. When Reynie, Constance, Sticky and Kate see the clues for the scavenger hunt Mr. Benedict had planned, they might be able to retrace his steps and find him. As the foursome embark on their journey, all of their skills will be needed to save the founder of their society.
After I read a book that I love, I’m often hesitant to read the sequel. I’m always worried that the later books in the series won’t live up to the original. But The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey was just as enchanting as its predecessor. All the things I loved about The Mysterious Benedict Society were back for the sequel: the quirky and original characters, the puzzles, the clever writing and the adventure. Together, Sticky, Reynie, Constance and Kate make the perfect team. Sticky is perfect for when you need accurate information. Reynie is the ultimate problem solver and notices everything. In this novel, Constance proves to be excellent at predicting outcomes. Kate’s the girl you want if you need someone to act fast under pressure. They are all great characters and I love them to bits. A year has passed between the first book and the second, and the children have grown up quite a bit. Constance, for example, shows new abilities that were never there before. You can tell that the other children have also matured in the course of the year, especially Sticky. In some older children’s books it feels like the characters are children forever, and I like seeing the characters grow up with each book. The children grapple with some bigger issues in this novel: Reynie has trouble believing that there are very many truly good people. Stickie struggles with his newfound pride and Kate has trouble understanding why they can’t occasionally sink to the level of their enemies, if it’s for the better good. The villains were much more frightening in this novel and the threat felt very real. The Ten Men turn ordinary items (such as bowties, clipboards and pencils) into instruments of torture. I thought this was both creative and terrifying. In The Mysterious Benedict Society, the villains' intellect didn’t match the children. In fact, many of the Executives weren’t that bright. In The Perilous Journey, the Ten Men outsmart the children at times, and it felt like they were in much more danger than ever before.
The plot was fast paced and exciting. The children travel a fair bit, including a ride on the boat from the cover. There were parts that were so clever, such as how Mr. Benedict concealed the truth when taking the truth serum. Everything was just so smart and fun and I loved it. While the illustrations for The Mysterious Benedict Society were drawn by Carson Ellis, the rest of the books in the series are illustrated by Diana Sudyka. I think she did a fantastic job at both keeping the style of Ellis’ drawings while still adding something unique. My favourite illustrations were for the chapters “Awkward Exchanges and Clever Disguises” and “Dusk Before Sundown.” Sudyka’s illustrations of the characters were brilliant, as was the cover. Overall, I really think that this is a book that has everything. With adventure, mystery, danger and excitement, this is a children’s book that can appeal to anyone and a good example of how to do a sequel.
“May your adventures bring you closer together, even as they take you far away from home.”