A lot of people really seem to love this book. I noted many good points and am envious of those readers who were unaffected by its plodding pace, but that severely limited its appeal to me. The extraordinarily slow beginning and middle contained details I enjoyed, but they did not build up in such a way that I was completely enchanted and all was forgiven. For me, the power of the good things, the power of the whole, was weakened by details that bordered on filler. And I do not require a breakneck speed either. No, sir. So maybe this book, not the individual elements, but the way the author weaved them together, letting too much stick, is just not my thing. That's one reason I really wish I could bump it up to four stars. Trenton Lee Stewart's heart is in the right place. For many people, enough to turn it into a best selling series, so was his style.
I liked the four orphans, two boys, two girls, and their different personalities, especially Kate. Reynie may have been a good choice for point of view character, since he became the de facto leader, but sometimes I wondered why the story wasn't told from Sticky's point of view, at least in part. (Maybe I tired of Reynie occasionally.)
Anyway, I liked the island. Nothing wrong with villains on islands. I liked the technology. Nothing wrong with villains with technology. I liked the brainsweeping and the evil plan to... I liked that the children were sent in as spies by an adult who was reluctant to send children into danger but felt it needed to be done. Though the children have their strengths, adults are portrayed as more powerful. One raging adult frightens the four of them, and that may be the kind of thing that inspires reviewers to compare the book to Lemony Snicket's and Roald Dahl's.