When we first met the intrepid, orphaned quartet that made up a large part of the Mysterious Benedict Society we were left feeling that surely this couldn't be the last adventure that they'd be on together...and we were absolutely right. The whole gang is back in the second book in the series by Trenton Lee Stewart titled The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey. (Note: A new illustrator, Diana Sudyka, has penned the drawings for this book and forthcoming books in the series.) The beginning of the book starts off with the kids separated and trying to live as close to normal as possible. The reader is once again following the main character, Reynie, as he heads to meet up with everyone on the anniversary of their last adventure together. However, when they are all reunited at Mr. Benedict's house they are met with a very unpleasant surprise. (No spoilers here!!) What follows is a treacherous journey (hence the name of the book) that takes them on boats, trains, and up the side of a mountain in another country. While the central theme of friendship and working together is still present, this book is much darker in tone and a sense of foreboding lingers over every page. (In some ways, it reminds me of the progression of the Harry Potter series.) The illustrations again accompany a portion of the text and even though it's a different illustrator the sense of whimsy is ever-present. Overall, very enjoyable and fun to see how the author expands on each of the characters personalities and abilities. (Constance plays a much larger role in this book.) I have to confess that I've had the third book in the series gathering dust on my desk at work (and a copy of it here at home) but I haven't felt an overwhelming urge to pick it up just yet. I have a feeling this will be one of the first books I get to in the new year. XD If you read the first book in the series then I'm confident you'll enjoy the sequel. 8/10
|A sample of the new illustrator's style [Source: Kinder Books]|
What's Up Next: The Time Quartet series by Madeleine L'Engle
What I'm Currently Reading: Scythe by Neal Shusterman
I really enjoyed this companion puzzle book. The puzzles range from pretty easy to quite difficult. My favorite part is that the answer key isn't straightforward. It gives you clues that lead you to the correct answer if you're stuck.
You can enjoy this book without reading The Mysterious Benedict Society first, but I think fans of the series will get more out of it than someone just looking for a book of puzzles.
Trenton Lee Stewart had me charmed with The Mysterious Benedict Society. I fell in love with the quick moving, fluid and well-written story line that unfolded on the pages. To say I had high hopes for The Secret Keepers would be an understatement, which probably contributed to disappointment. This book isn't quite up to bar that I had set for it.
First off, this book is honestly much longer than it should be. It stretches the story out to the point where, quite often, there is nothing actually happening on the pages. I can absolutely forgive a book for starting out slowly, as the background and characters are set in place. This book, however, never actually picks up speed. It meanders along, at a plodding pace, to the point that I skimmed a fair amount of pages per chapter and didn't feel like I'd missed anything. The story line itself is solid, and interesting. It's just bogged down by the length it needs to fill.
I also just never fell in love with our main character. Reuben never felt brave to me, only foolhardy and impulsive. While I could see Stewart trying valiantly to outline the reasons why Reuben behaved as he did, it still never felt truthful to me. I'm absolutely enamored with the idea of a boy who loves his mother so much he'd do anything to protect her. Past that, however, it just fell apart for me. I admit that Penny did increase my interest for a while though. So there's that! She's a little spitfire.
Whenever I read a book that is aimed at the Middle Grade crowd, I always try to think about it from that perspective as well. After working with that age of children for many years, and being an avid reader myself well before that age group, I feel comfortable settling myself back into that mindset. That being said, this book doesn't seem like one that would capture their imaginations. It lacks excitement. It was missing that piece that keeps you riveted, tearing through the pages to find out what happens next. Even the ultimate confrontation, the big climax, didn't really come through. Both Middle Grade Jessica and adult Jessica would have felt that lack of real energy. I'd love to recommend this one, but I really can't. Go forth and get lost in the charming world of The Mysterious Benedict Society instead.
When we first meet Reuben, whose father died eleven years ago in a factory accident under a cloud of mystery, he's sneaking around and taking what appear to be crazy precautions and risks for a kid. Reuben is stealthily moving around, avoiding a group of men called The Directions, who work for The Smoke, a shadowy figure that is not to be crossed.
Before long, Reuben discovers a device with a truly amazing feature, and it isn't long before Reuben's on the radar of The Directions and The Smoke, which is the last place in the world he wants to be.
Fortunate for Reuben, he makes some friends as he tries to avoid The Smoke and his henchmen, and these friends are more than willing to share Reuben's burden and help him learn some valuable lessons about trust along the way. The question is, even with the help of his friends, will Rueben be able to take down an evil empire that even the police seem unable to destroy?
This is a suspenseful read with layers of mystery and bits of humor by an established author who knows how to write to keep his audience turning the page. Great read for the young and not-so-young, alike! Books like this remind me of why I started enjoying YA in tne first place!
Galley copy. Opinions my own.