Reynie Muldoon is incredibly gifted at solving puzzles and logic games. Kate Weatherall is incredibly resourceful with the items she carries around in her beloved bucket; she can create almost anything. Sticky Washington can read at lightning speed and remembers everything he has ever read, heard, or seen. And Constance Contraire. . .well, Constance is stubborn. And for reasons that will not become clear until the very end of the book, Mr. Benedict insists that she is far more brilliant than the other children realize.
Mr. Benedict gathers this group of brilliant children together to form a team of secret agents who will infiltrate an institution for gifted children that is really a front for a madman’s secret plans for world domination. Although the implications of the madman’s plot are quite dark, the brain teasers and vibrant characters keep the tone of the book light. The book is intended for a 4th-6th grade audience, but anyone who loves puzzles and codes and a bit of science fiction and mystery will enjoy it. The Mysterious Benedict Society is the first in a trilogy, followed by The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey and The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma.
No moon shines over the dark waters of the Newburyport coast as a Persian assassin slithers ashore. Her mission: to kill Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States. Only Professor Mikhal Lammeck has a chance of tracking the elusive Judith and eliminating her before she reaches her target.
Lammeck has spent years teaching the theory of assassin psychology. Now, called back into the field against his will, he realizes he is in way over his head. As the distance between him and his quarry narrows, Lammeck finds himself entering the assassin’s mind. No longer motivated by the desire to help his country, the professor is drawn forward by the allure and enigma of his brilliant adversary.
Robbins’ novel is not simply an action-packed thriller. His alternate history is filled to bursting with historical detail, set against the complex backdrop of the 1940s social climate. Industry, war, racism, and sexism writhe in the background, complicating an already intriguing plot. Robbins also devotes considerable energy to developing the character of his assassin, lest she be seen as a “faceless” enemy. Along with Lammeck, the reader comes to understand the motivations and history of the assassin, the challenges she faces, the depth of her resolve, and the reason that she is determined to succeed in her objective, against all odds.
As far as Snowman knows, he is the last human left on Earth. The blazing sun—hotter now that the atmosphere has thinned—burns his skin, even in the shade of the tree that is his home. His only companions are the human-like Children of Crake, a tribe of genetic experiments of whom Snowman was made guardian, before the known world came to an end.
Food is scarce, and Snowman must brave a dangerous trail, crawling with genetically-modified predators, to find supplies in the ruins of a nearby city. Haunted on his journey by the memories of Crake, the cunning super-genius, Oryx, his enigmatic lover, and Jimmy, the unremarkable boy that Snowman used to be, he relives the series of seemingly inconsequential events that led to the destruction of his world.
Oryx and Crake is both exciting and thought-provoking–taking readers on a journey through the monster-infested ruins of American civilization and forcing them to consider the potential dangers of genetic engineering, cyber-stalking, global warming, and biochemical warfare. As in most post-apocalyptic tales, Snowman’s story is intense and tragic. It isn’t a light read, but this book is hard to put down!
If you liked Oryx and Crake, you might like The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer.