Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Mysterious Benedict Society - Book Week 8

I have just finished reading The Mysterious Benedict Society" by Trenton Lee Stewart. As "kid lit" goes, this one is fairly good. I'm not sure if you'd call this Sci-Fi or a mystery, but it's somewhere between those two. The lead character is Raynard Moulden, a gifted orphan, who gets an opportunity to be part of a special mission. He and his orphaned cohorts form The Mysterious Benedict Society and act as spies at their weird special school, The Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened (L.I.V.E., as displayed on their red school flag...or is it EVIL?) Stewart does one fine job of crafting suspense. I didn't have to go far from one spine-tingling "Whatever will they do?" musing to the next. As the climax comes along, the story is moving at break-neck speed. However, the Denouement crashed along much too rapidly. So many threads had been lain down, it was bewildering to have them all explained away and everything tied up much too neatly in the last few pages.

The setting was a little baffling and left me feeling ungrounded far into the book. I'm not sure if Stoneytown Harbor and Nomanson Island are real places (in America?) or purely fictional. Later in the book, Holland is mentioned and so is Zambia, so apparently, it's on our "real" earth. But where? I gotta say that bugged me quite a lot. Maybe I somehow missed this important point, but either way, it never registered.

There was a wonderful plot twist regarding the character named Milligan that was a total delight. However, new information on the character named Constance Contraire was completely preposterous. Gotta love that wonderful name-crafting, though. Constance Contraire! What a perfect name for the character who is constantly contrary!

All-in-all, a clever book and an entertaining read. Kids in the 8-12 age range, especially boys, will most likely enjoy it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Some Tears are Wiped Away, I Guess, For Some

This is a long-due update to the Valley of Tears outcry I raised in December. Remember the lady I spoke of whose adoption fell through? The update is - it came to fruition after all. She got to adopt a newborn girl. By mid-January, she had her Christmas Miracle. I was speechless. And then never happens.

I struggle because I don't know what these things mean. I don't know if God was merciful or if she just "got lucky". Because - how can we speak of God's mercy when The Right Thing happens amidst so many examples of The Wrong Thing happening?

When a survivor was pulled from the wreckage of Haiti a month after the earthquake, some thank God for that miracle. But what of the hundreds of thousands not shown that mercy? Where does that leave them?