Today I am breaking with tradition a bit to share a review on a Saturday. While I have been sharing my book lists on Saturdays, I decided to share one more Mysterious Benedict Society review before book 4 comes out next week! This time I’m talking a bit about The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart–a prequel about the childhood of Mr Benedict.
I am so excited to devour book 4! Please humor me with a bit of book bragging for a moment… Before then, I just need to finish The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue by Karina Yan Glauser (book 3 in the fantastic Vanderbeeker series) and I’m expecting an ARC of The Bootlace Magician by Cassie Beasley (loved Circus Mirandus!) any day now too. Plus I have my ARC of Dragonwatch #3 and a big pile of other books I want to read. Isn’t the reading life so fun? 😉
Anyways, back to the book at hand.
The universe of the Mysterious Benedict Society is so fun that I basically will read anything to get back in it. This prequel was exciting to read. We get a lot of questions answered about Mr Benedict. What was his life like as a child? How did he deal with his narcolepsy without Number 2 and Rhonda? How did he become the remarkable man that brought together the society? Many of these questions are answered. But a few are left open. Overall, I enjoyed this one but I wished we got a bit more answers about how Nicholas jumped from young boy to adult. I think an epilogue showing us his first meeting with Number 2 or Rhonda would have been all I needed for the closure.
According to Goodreads, “Nine-year-old Nicholas Benedict has more problems than most children his age. Not only is he an orphan with an unfortunate nose, but he also has narcolepsy, a condition that gives him terrible nightmares and makes him fall asleep at the worst possible moments.
Now he’s being sent to a new orphanage, where he will encounter vicious bullies, selfish adults, strange circumstances – and a mystery that could change his life forever. Luckily, he does have one thing in his favor: He’s a a genius.
On his quest to solve the mystery, Nicholas finds enemies around every corner, but also friends in unexpected places – and discovers along the way that the greatest puzzle of all is himself.”
Easily my favorite part of this book was Nicholas’ friendship with Violet and John. I loved their late night meetings on the hill top. I kept expecting to uncover a connection to the original series and how they fit into those books. But I didn’t really see one. I think it would have been fun to see how they are connected to Nicholas later (it seems that such good friends would be connected!) But regardless, I loved the way they form a secret society of their own and fight evil on a smaller scale.
I really enjoyed getting inside young Nicholas’ head. We don’t really get to do that in the main series. Of course, we know and love Mr Benedict but we don’t get a lot of background on his life. This is our chance to get to know him by being inside his head. And It’s such a fun ride! I love that he really has traits that all the Mysterious Benedict Society later has–incredible reading speeds and memory, noticing small details, fixing and rebuilding things with items at hand, and having a sense of what people will say and do. These connections are so clever and no wonder the Mysterious Benedict Society loves him so much!
My one qualm about this book is the ending. The ending felt a bit rushed and then a bit too open ended for me (that’s the main reason for the 4 star instead of 5). I like that Nicholas’ new acquaintance on the train inspires him to be a good grown up. But I wanted another meeting between them. I wanted to hear if he kept in touch with the man or even just if he saw him again. And maybe an epilogue that shows how Nicholas got to Stonetown or bought his famous house or something. Again, I really missed having a connection to Number 2 or Rhonda. We still don’t know much of how they met Mr Benedict and I think more details about that would have been fun. Overall, I just finished feeling like I wanted MORE.
Regardless, a fun tale that I’m glad I read! CANT WAIT for The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages!!!