Friday, November 7, 2008

The Mysterious Benedict Society

I didn't think two books could be more different than The Giver and The Willoughbys (both by Lois Lowry), but strangely enough, The Mysterious Benedict Society reminded me of both.

A meaty 485 pages, this book is full of vivid, unexpected characters, humor, adventure, and intrigue. It was the perfect vacation read for me (unlike the previous one). The Mysterious Benedict Society is hopeful despite the circumstances. The author sets out to show what unique, intelligent, independent children can accomplish, and does a smash-bang job of it. The children find that succeeding in their task requires working as a team while valuing each other's (very different and sometimes annoying) strengths.

The Mysterious Benedict Society is an entertaining and thought-provoking read for children and adults alike, but I think I will wait a couple years before handing this one over to Levi so that he can get the most out of it. I almost wish that we could discuss it now, though, as I thought of many relevant parallels to our current society, politics, and educational system. Perhaps I'll have to choose it as my next book club selection!
pg 171

"It sounds like there are no rules here at all," Sticky said.

"That's true, George," said Jillson. "Virtually none, in fact. You can wear whatever you want, just so long as you have on trousers, shoes, and a shirt. You can bathe as often as you like or not at all, provided you're clean every day in class. You can eat whatever and whenever you want, so long as it's during meal hours in the cafeteria. You're allowed to keep lights on in your rooms as late as you wish until ten o'clock each night. And you can go wherever you want around the Institute, so long as you keep to the paths and the yellow-tiled corridors."

"Actually," Reynie observed, "those all sound like rules."

Jackson rolled his icy blue eyes. "This is your first day, so I don't expect you to know much, Reynard. But this is one of the rules of life you'll learn at the Institute: Many things that sound like rules aren't actually rules, and it always sounds as if there are more rules than there really are."

pg 366

Would you ever have thought I might choose a lie for the sake of my own happiness? The Whisperer's version of happiness is an illusion--it doesn't take away your fears, it only lies to you about them, makes you temporarily believe you don't have them. And I know it's a lie, but what a powerful one! Maybe I'm not who I always thought myself to be. Maybe I'm the sort of person who will do anything to hear what I want to believe...


Sherry said...

THis book was one of my favorites from last year, and did you know there's a sequel out? I'm going to be reading it soon. I can't wait. Oh, the sequel is called The Mysterious Benedict ociety and the Perilous Journey.

Framed said...

I really need to get this book read. I've had it for quite some time and now, I'm reading all these glowing reviews. Time to get on the bandwagon.