Reynie Muldoon is a genius. He’s also an orphan, and generally miserable at the orphanage. When an advertisement in the newspaper looking for smart and talented children catches his eye, he jumps at the chance to leave. When he shows up at the office to try out, the series of tests he is given are not at all what he expected. He notices hidden puzzles, and passes the test, one of only four children to do so, each with his or her own unique talent. Sticky Washington remembers everything, while Kate, with her bucket of stuff, is fantastic at rigging up exactly what’s needed. Pint-sized Constance’s only talent appears to be stubborn pig-headedness, but Mr. Benedict warns them not to underestimate her. Together, the four children are being sent on a very dangerous mission, one that will save the world from the influence of an evil plot.
This book, by Trenton Lee Stewart, has occasionally been criticized for being two books smooshed into one. There are certainly aspects that can back that opinion up. However, neither section would have been complete without the other, so in the end, you just have to accept that it is simply a quite long book and enjoy it for what it is. There are lots of action and adventure, with tons of puzzles for the characters to figure out, particularly in the first half of the book. The second half of the book is focused more on defeating their enemy, placing the children in danger and suspense. Each of the character’s plays an important role in the eventual downfall of the plot, adding to the book’s general theme that individualism is key to success. Although there are occasional sections that might not have been entirely necessary, making the book over 400 pages, a non-critical reader will probably not even notice them. The suspense of the plot will keep you reading right to the surprising and satisfying end. The sequel has just been published.