The Boy Who Knew Too Much
Mattie Larimore has always been the good son, particularly in comparison to his no good, tearaway brother Carter. Well, that is until he steals a train. Parents seem to notice that sort of behavior, and not look too kindly upon it. Upon realizing Mattie isn’t as squeaky clean as they once thought, Mattie’s parents pack his bags and send him to join his brother at Munchem Academy, a strange and unusual reform school.
When Mattie arrives at Munchem Academy, his first thought is how to get out. The whole place is crumbling, the kids are terrifying and the teachers, especially Headmaster Rooney, are more than a little peculiar. However, something strange is happening at Munchem --- when some of the very worst students miraculously become model citizens literally overnight, Mattie takes it upon himself, with the help of the Spencer siblings, to uncover what dastardly schemes are afoot.
"THE BOY WHO KNEW TOO MUCH has a great premise, and the narrator has a fair amount of sass and wit to make him somewhat reminiscent of Lemony Snicket or Pseudonymous Bosch. "
THE BOY WHO KNEW TOO MUCH has a great premise, and the narrator has a fair amount of sass and wit to make him somewhat reminiscent of Lemony Snicket or Pseudonymous Bosch. However, the plot seems patchy at best. So much is left unexplained throughout the novel --- why is Munchem falling to bits? Why would parents send their kids to such a dump? Why do the students have to clean all the time for no apparent reason and not have any real lessons? Characters motives are never questioned and their development is very two dimensional.
That said, the action when it takes place is well written and enjoyable. The hints at Mattie becoming a master thief are intriguing, though it is a bit disappointing that the snippets alluding to his future sound more exciting than the book itself. The conversations between Mattie and Carter are amusing, as are Caroline Spencer’s escapades with Beezus, her pet rat. Unfortunately, so much of this book is left underdeveloped that it just falls short of being a satisfying read.
Hopefully further instalments will flesh Mattie out, along with his development into the master criminal we are told he becomes. There are glimpses of good writing within THE BOY WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, and humorous asides are peppered throughout, though admittedly not to as great an effect as you’d find in the likes of A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Reviewed by Becca Watts on October 24, 2016