The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee StewartAdolescent Fantasy
I read this book because one of my students recommended it, saying it was the best book she's ever read. I wish she hadn't moved so I could ask her what she meant. I mean, was it the only book she's ever read? Because to be the 'best book' on some one's list, it must be a very short list of books read. So as not to beat around the bush, I hated it. The book isn't nearly as mysterious as it is absolutely ridiculous.
The book centers around a group of children-Reymie, Sticky and Constance-who each pass a test in order to be accepted in a special school, known as 'The Mysterious Benedict Society'. Each of them has a special talent of some kind. Constance's talent is to be extremely rude if that lets you know how amazing their talents are. That took up about half of the 400 pages.
The other half of the book is a quasi-adventure whereby these orphaned misfits team up to defeat Mr. Benedict's evil, long-lost twin brother who is brainwashing the youth of America into being obedient creatures though subliminal messages on TV and the radio that also robs them of their happiness. Much like the feeling I experienced reading this book.
Stewart has a writing style, and many other plot similarities, to Lemony Snickett's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Alas for him, none are portrayed as skillfully as Snickett. This book was one of the most boring I've ever read. I literally had to force myself to finish it.