The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey
by Trenton Lee Stewart
In this second book about the Mysterious Benedict Society, four young geniuses are brought together a year after their first, hair-raising adventure. This time, they are expecting only a safe, amusing series of puzzles. But instead, a villain's sudden reappearance forces them down another road.
Or rather, it forces them down the same road - an international scavenger hunt with clues set by their dear Mr. Benedict - only it isn't safe or amusing anymore. Not with dangerous enemies tracking them, and good friends being held hostage, and the skipper of the fastest cargo ship on the Atlantic acting suspiciously. Not when they're running from business-suited "ten men," so named because they carry ten innocent-looking instruments of torture and death. Not when an evil mastermind is laying a trap ahead of them. And most certainly not when, by successfully solving Mr. Benedict's clues, they may be placing a terrible weapon into the evil mastermind's hands.
So it won't be a cheerful, picturesque romp through Portugal, the Netherlands, and an island off the coast of Scotland. But if any four kids are equal to the task, they're these four: Reynie, whose intuition is nearly always right; Sticky, whose mind collects knowledge as flypaper collects flies; Kate, who relies on her circus training and physical courage for hands-on problem solving; and Constance Contraire, who is remarkably advanced for her age, and who has powers no one has guessed.
What makes this book especially interesting is how four very different children rely on the strength of their friendship, plus some well-placed nudges from Reynie (who is good at diplomacy), to keep working together under pressure like this. It is an adventure whose four young heroes become intimately acquainted with their own, and each other's, flaws and limitations. It is a series of puzzles that many a young reader may enjoy working out with the characters, culminating in a set of battles, standoffs, and chases in which they match wits with some awfully clever and well-organized bad guys.
I must confess that I have been hooked on this series since the first book wowed me. I was not at all disappointed with the sequel. So I will be looking out for the third book, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma, coming in October 2009.
St. Louis, USA
Recommended Age: 12+
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