Author: Trenton Lee Stewart
Publisher: Little, Brown
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Summary (from Goodreads): Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?
Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them. Only four children - two boys and two girls -succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. But what they'll find in the hidden underground tunnels of the school is more than your average school supplies. So, if you're gifted, creative, or happen to know Morse Code, they could probably use your help.
My Summary: Reynie, Sticky, Constance, and Kate are four incredibly bright children. After passing the mysterious set of tests given when they responded to the newspaper ad, the children find themselves facing more danger than they ever have before when they accept a mission - infiltrate the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened and figure out how the headmaster of the school intends to brainwash people. Armed with nothing but their wits and each other, the children must solve a series of cryptic messages and make their way into the headmaster's inner circle to discover his secrets and ultimately disband his operation.
My Thoughts: I was a little reluctant to pick up this novel (especially considering its size), but after reading some glowing reviews that compared it to my all-time favourite children's series (A Series of Unfortunate Events), I decided to give it a try. And I am seriously glad I did. The writing flowed beautifully and reminded me of my old favourites by Ronald Dahl, and there were some parts that even I found funny. I also really liked that - like other successful books of its time - this book didn't 'talk down' to the reader. The puzzles and codes were entertaining as well - I found myself wanting to learn Morse code after reading this novel!
Final Thoughts: I recommend this to anyone who enjoys middle-grade novels, and anyone who enjoyed the works of Ronald Dahl and Lemony Snicket. I'll definitely be checking out the sequel!