Unfortunately, we can’t like every single book we read. After all, we each have our own preferences for story content, writing style, and characterizations. But it is important to hold space for criticism because it opens up conversations about what we read and why we read it. Your favorite story could be held in contempt by another reader. Things about the book you liked or didn’t mind could be factors that made a different reader hate the story. And that’s okay!
It’s important to remember that the criticisms in this series are the opinions of the contributing writer. Leigh Ann might abhor The Secret Life of Bees, but Lane may enjoy and recommend it. Each is entitled to their opinions. Criticism is not a condemnation of any person, but of elements of the story.
This series is not to be taken too seriously. It’s a place to vent, especially about books that everyone seems to like when we cannot find the appeal. Agree or disagree, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or submit your own BILF!
With nearly 12,000 reviews that result in this book having a 4.19 rating on Goodreads (as of March 2022), The Mysterious Benedict Society is freaking popular. Even I, who ultimately did not like the story, found it intriguing at first. We got to solve puzzles and tests alongside the characters. But those didn’t last long at all, and my interest fell to the point that I struggled to finish this book.
For me there was no emotional impact. I didn’t feel the characters had any growth; even Reynie’s development was supposed to be that he learned to be brave, but he was actually one of the bravest characters throughout the book. It would have made more of an impact if Sticky had needed to become brave. I didn’t like Constance at all, even after the plot twist at the end, which wasn’t particularly satisfying because we’re still left with more questions than answers about her.
Two things really stand out to me: It’s thoroughly surprising that Mr Benedict & co. didn’t do any recon before sending actual children into the institute. Also, it doesn’t really make sense that if Mr Curtain sits in plain sight every day they wouldn’t have said, “Hey, this guy looks pretty friggin’ familiar, don’t ’cha think?”
Now, here’s an egregious oversight:
If secret messages are transmitted in every spoken language, why doesn’t Mr Benedict gather up a team of deaf children and/or adults? Perhaps the brainwashing institute wouldn’t admit deaf students or employees–fair enough! But there’s no discussion of deaf people at all and whether they are immune to these broadcasts (delivered through audio channels like radio, tv, etc.). If a deaf person is in proximity to a radio but cannot hear it, is the message (which again is in spoken language) transmitted? When the power is increased, the messages are transmitted directly into the brain, which could account for deaf people–but it is made clear that the broadcast causes the person to “hear voices,” which would not typically happen with the deaf. Maybe Stewart couldn’t puzzle this out himself, so he decided to pretend that deaf people don’t exist.
Most books do omit disabled characters in general, but here it especially stands out to me because deaf people would be ideal spies in this situation. A deaf adult as a Helper? Chef’s kiss. The author really dropped the ball on this one.
What do you think?