The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

I discovered this book at an early age, between elementary and middle school, but to put it simply, there has never been a book as eye opening and intriguing in all my years of reading. This was one of those rare books that excited me every time I read it—it was something I couldn’t put down. The sheer brilliance in this book is unimaginable and extremely rare to find. Personally, the book provided nostalgic memories that I could never let go of.

Published in 2007, The Mysterious Benedict Society is actually one of a five-part series about a orphan boy and gifted child named Reynard “Reynie” Muldoon. After reading an ad in the newspaper about an opportunity for gifted children, Reynie decides to take the opportunity and soon faces challenging tests, ones in which he passes. From this, he qualifies to meet Mr. Benedict, the founder of an organization, along with three others who passed the test: George “Sticky” Washington, Kate Wetherall, and Constance Contraire. Mr. Benedict sends the children on a mission to explain the mind-controlling messages displayed on televisions and radio signals by placing them as undercover agents in another organization institute, but there’s so much more than what meets the eye.

One main reason why I choose to praise this book is because of its uniqueness. In mystery and thriller novels, there’s already a sense of uniqueness in the sense that you have to create entirely new and different plots to keep stories fresh and entertaining, but this novel specifically holds the complete opposite of cliché story-telling, as it includes many details that one wouldn’t even know could fit together. To be quite honest, the book is quite long and has some unnecessary fill-ins for the plot, yet the plot in itself is wild, crazy, and so unique to the extent where one can never know what will happen next. Along with the plot are creative puzzles and tests for the reader to figure out on their own—a wonderful way to keep readers engaged! The characters have flaws, which make them realistic, but not to the point where they’re so unlikable and their chemistry doesn’t mix well. In the end, the book acts the way a true mystery novel should, even if the imaginative plot fits young adults.

It reaches the heart and soul of young readers, as it provides such a wild, creative imagination to create a story such as The Mysterious Benedict Society. However, it also extends to any age, young or old, but basically, just anyone who’s creative and simply wants a puzzling challenge.

-Natisha P.

The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufmen and Jay Kristoff

A sci-fi romance filled with adventures, death, and societal issues, what else could you wish for? But seriously, this book/series paved the way for my entrance into young adult sci-fi and I can’t thank it enough. 

While reading this book I cried many a time, both out of anger, frustration, and despair. Needless to say, it was an emotional rollercoaster. So much so that I read every book in a day each and still somehow managed to get absolutely wrecked by them. The plot took so many twists and turns it was almost impossible to get bored. 

A summary of this complicated book is most simply put as, a boyfriend and girlfriend live on a planet, they break up, planet gets destroyed. Once planet gets destroyed they are on an evacuation ship where a plague runs rampant, an AI is trying to “save” the ship but really not, and thats only the least of it. 

Apart form its complicated plot which only explains the premise of the first book, this book is in such a unique format that it is a must read. I see that most people say the audiobook is incredible, but when you listen to it, you don’t get to experience the amount of effort and detail this book possesses through its interactive elements.

I have never seen a book quite like this. The images, the format of the words, is just impossible to describe. The next time you go to a Barnes & Noble, pick up this book and flip through it. Trust me, it is an enlightening experience. How the authors though of this format I will never know, but will forever be grateful for. 

The characters are perfect at adapting and reacting to the horrifying situations surrounding them. And as an extra bonus, they are very cute together. These characters sucked me into the world and what I believe to be the main factor of my emotional attachment to this book. 

Everyone must make space for this book on their shelves, because it is one of the best science fiction I have ever read, and there will never be a dull moment. 

-Asli B.

The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

When by Victoria Laurie

Everyone knows that they will one day die, and yet we live our lives trying our best to ignore it, as death is a dark subject for most. However, the main character Maddie in the book When by Victoria Laurie, has no choice but to see death everywhere she goes. The death date of every person she sees is imprinted upon their forehead.  Living alone with her mother, money is tight, and so her mother arranged for her to earn money by telling clients who come to their home their death date.

One day a client comes in and Maddie informs her that her son’s death date is next week. Shocked and confused( as the woman had initially come in regarding the death date of her daughter who had leukemia) she leaves angrily. Of course, the woman’s son ends up dead upon the very date that Maddie predicted. After this, the FBI begins to suspect Maddie as well as her best friend Stubby for murdering the child. The book is a thrilling mystery that I enjoyed immensely, and it is the kind of book that kept me up late reading, anticipating what would happen next. 

Buried beneath the fast-paced storyline, however, is the question to the reader of what you would do if you knew the day you would die. It was something fascinating to ponder as I read, and even one of the characters in the book whom Maddie had told his death date to had turned his life around due to that. He wanted to make sure his family was supported financially and knew they were loved, as well as enjoy the last years of his life. And the meaning I found within the book as well was that death is not something to try to run away from, but rather something to remember every once in a while, to put everything into perspective and allow you to live life beautifully.

~Aisha E.

When by Victoria Laurie is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Imagine if aliens lived among us. Not the aliens you might think of immediately (like E.T.), but aliens who cloud blend in, who look just like us. We would never know, they could be anyone: your next-door neighbor, your own best friend.

John Smith, to everyone around him, appears to be a typical teenage boy beginning his sophomore year of high school in Paradise, Ohio. But in actuality, John Smith is but one of many of his fake identities. His real name, if you could even really call it that, is Number Four. He comes from a planet far, far, away called Lorien. He is one of the nine powerful children who were taken to Earth about ten years ago, before Lorien was attacked by another alien planet: Mogadore.

Before the nine children were sent to Earth, they were each assigned a number (one through nine), and a Loric elder cast a charm, making it so that, should the Mogadorians ever go after these nine remaining Lorien descendants, they would only be able to kill them in order of the their numbers. Thus far, numbers one through three have been hunted down and killed by the Mogadorians, and John Smith, who is number four, knows that he is next.

When I first heard of this book, and was told that it was about aliens, I honestly didn’t have very high expectations for it. That probably wouldn’t have been the case for everyone, I just don’t typically like stories/books that are about aliens. But, when I started reading it, I immediately knew that I wouldn’t be able to stop. Luckily for me, this is a series, and three of the books were out when I started. Now, there are a total of seven in the series, the most recent having come out last year.

I can’t really pinpoint what it is about this book that sets it apart from other stories about aliens. Maybe it’s because the Loric look like us? I really don’t know, but I do really love this series, and I love all the characters that are introduced later on in the series as well. Despite the fact that three different authors have contributed to this series (all under the pseudonym of Pittacus Lore), the story flows very smoothly, and I could never wait for the next book to come out.

I don’t know how many times I’ve re-read this book, but it must be a lot because my copy’s falling apart (the only thing that’s holding it together is scotch tape). It’s definitely a great read, but don’t start unless you haven’t got anything planned for the rest of the day because trust me, you won’t be able to put it down.

-Elina T.

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.