February 24, 2010

The Mysterious Benedict Society Book #3

Posted by at 8:33 am in Reads | Permalink

Mysterious-bus_130 One of the cardinal rules of reviewing a book – or an album, or a film, or whatever – is that you're supposed read it (or listen to it or watch it) for the first time with a completely open mind. You have to try to forget all your preconceived notions and read the book without any bias one way or the other.

This was my first experience with Trenton Lee Stewart's Mysterious Benedict Society series, but I can easily see why it is so popular (STACKS users on the Message Boards rave about it all the time). Well, I think it's important for me to say, right off the bat, that I did not read The Prisoner's Dilemma with an open mind. Why? Because of the title. Any book that references the actual Prisoner's Dilemma – a classic thought problem from a very specialized branch of math called game theory – gets brownie points with me. (I literally judged this book by its cover, in other words.) The opening scene of the book has the four main characters (Sticky, a nervous genius with a photographic memory; Reynie, a boy given to brilliant flashes of insight but otherwise completely average; Kate, a freakishly fast and agile daredevil; and Constance, a telepathic four year-old who looks like a human fire hydrant) wrestling with that very same dilemma, and finding a new and slightly unorthodox solution that I won't spoil for you.

Mysterious-bus In any case, I was inclined to like this book, and I'm happy to say that it lived up to my completely irrational and unrealistically high expectations. It's filled with a large but manageable cast of quirky, lively characters; it's written in a pleasingly erudite style, and is GREAT for vocabulary geeks like myself. Plus it's got a really engaging plot that I was able to enjoy even though I haven't read the first two books in the series. I won't give too much away, but the members of the MBS are forced to use their unique talents to thwart a dastardly scheme. (If there's one gripe I have with the MBS series as a whole, it's that it seems pretty beholden to a classic kidlit trope: the gang of misifts, each with some special ability. The Maximum Ride series is the same way. Small gripe though.) It's also a fairly long book, and will keep you occupied for a good week or so – always a plus, as far as I'm concerned.

I'm happy to report that I can heartily recommend The Prisoner's Dilemma, especially if you like your writing a little more intellectual and your action a little more cerebral. Enjoy, Splotters!

Jack, STACKS Writer

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  1. HappyStar243

    I am the Mysterious Benedict Society’s biggest fan! For real. I am not just saying that. For real! Hehe! Go Mysterious Benedict Society! The best books ever!

  2. Madison

    My best friend got me hooked on this series, and it actually makes your brain THINK! It is an amazing read- and about the third one- it was SUPER! it finished everything up perfectly, and had plenty of action- the perfect ending to this well written series.

  3. sloppybanana

    I read this book like 2 months ago and even though i am in the middle of another book right now i totally LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVED that series!! I just about cried when i closed the last book. I STILL can’t believe Constance is THREE. OMG I STILL CAN”T BELIEVE HOW GOOD THE SERIES WAS AND I AM NOT THE KIND OF PERSON TO SAY “OMG.” I am almost like Sticky. I read really quickly. Right now I need to beat this kid named Cj in AR points at my school and this book TOTALLY got me way ahead of him! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO STICKY!!!!!

  4. mirialin_moon_knight4789

    I love the serires, but you can obviously see the changes. Reynie becomes more of a troublemaker, whereas in the first book, He was a rule-follower. Rags-to-Riches plotline is very interesting.

  5. qwerfvtgb53

    omg i luv thi series!!!!!!!!!!!! Im sorta like all of them, not as smart as sticky but smarter than reynie, better than reynie at puzzles, not as athletic as kate but still pretty good, and more stubborn than constance.

  6. egcool

    This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is great because every time the kids have a challenge I always like to try and figure it out before they do. Again A really great book.

  7. district4

    I love love love the Mysterious Benedict Society. The books are awesome… and so are Kate and Constance! I’ve wanted a bucket like Kate for forever… but the Prisoner’s Dilemma was a sad ending to the series!

  8. emilysp7

    the MBC is soooooooooooooooooo awsome I read the frist one for OBOB but now I have read the sencond one Trenten Lee Sterout you rock

  9. Anita

    I started reading the first book but I didn’t like it so I stopped at about 120 in. But, I’m planning on reading it again

  10. Emma

    OMG! The Mysterious Benedict Society is such an awesome series! I have read all of them and I LOVE them. I highly reccomend it!

  11. Marytonga

    I became friends with my best friend over the Mysterious Benedict Society. I’d read 1 from the library. She lent my 2 and 3. I quoted a riddle from 3 for her Valentine! I recommend going to the website, and reading the books as many times as you can! Of course, you’d be lucky to find a copy on the shelf at my library, but what’s a bookstore for?