Book Review | The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart

Quite some time ago, I reviewed the first book in the Mysterious Benedict Society trilogy. You can read that here.

Today, I’m reviewing the prequel to that series, The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart.

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9780316176194Start with a gifted orphan. Add in a few bullies, a few misguided adults, and a treasure hunt. Though the situation may be familiar, Trenton Lee Stewart enriches it to become a thoroughly enjoyable book.

Nicholas Benedict has bounced around from orphanage to orphanage, each worse than the last. When Nicholas is placed in The Manor, his hopes for a better life are quickly met with a cell-like bedroom and a less-than-welcoming welcome party, the bullies known as the Spiders. But locked doors and mean kids are no match for the wits of our narcoleptic hero, and soon Nicholas is hot on the trail of a treasure. With the aid of a new friend (and only friend), Nicholas follows the clues to uncover what he hopes will be the start of a new and better life on his own. Along the way, Nicholas learns about family, selfishness, and what is truly worth treasuring in life.

My favorite parts of The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict reflect what I appreciated in the Mysterious Benedict Society trilogy. And that is that we, the reader, get to see how different characters solve problems. Climbing inside the head of Nicholas Benedict as a child allows the reader to guess how problems might be solved, bullies outwitted, and talents used, albeit not always for good. Stewart creates a wholly likeable cast of main characters, again providing back stories that help us relate to them.

That said, there were a few things that I did not enjoy as much as in his trilogy. As is often the case with YA Fiction, the adults are generally written as either stupid or silly with few exceptions. Many of the secondary characters suffer from being one-dimensional, acting predictably and not exactly true to life. And the thing I liked least was the author’s use of deux ex machina to solve the final problem. For being a story about a genius problem solver, the author might have woven in a better thread with which to solve the final problem. One last, little thing was that the author repeated the fact that Nicholas had a near perfect memory so many times that I wondered if he thought his readers had near goldfish-level memories and would have forgotten this fact.

As it was, The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict was a story well told and well worth reading. I look forward to Stewart’s future books and hope to learn from them as I have from these.

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I am about to turn 30. | My Birthday List

I’m turning 30 in just over a month.

In my head, I stopped aging at 23. Maybe that’s because I was married just days after 23. Maybe marriage was the mark of being a grown-up, so I just don’t feel substantially different with each passing birthday.

Sure, I have kids now, but I don’t really feel older than when I got married. The fact that I have kids just means that I am a virile 23-year-old.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I’ll be 30 next month.

Medically speaking, this is a mixed bag. According to a CNN report, people have the greatest cognitive abilities between 30 and 40. But also, our major organs start to break down at 30.

Anyway, aging is better than the alternative. Plus, there are usually presents.

So for those of you who would like to give me something, here’s my list:

Books

CDs

Lego Sets (Any of these would be fine)

Gift Cards

Clothes

  • Humorous T-shirts (Size L usually)

Other

That’s a pretty good list. I may add to it if I see something else that looks good. Mostly, this list is for people like close family members, but if you want to buy something for me, that’s cool too. Maybe you could have it delivered to my work and I’ll get it there (that way I don’t reveal my actual address on the interweb). Ship any gifts to Josh Mosey c/o Baker Book House, 2768 E Paris Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Unless it is a mean or deadly gift. Don’t bother to mail those to me.

Hey, only five more years until I can run for President, right?