Parents need to know that How to Lead a Life of Crime is a very violent and dark book in which the teens are all criminals -- thieves, drug addicts and dealers, computer hackers, prostitutes, murderers -- or runaways. Like Lord of the Flies, it shows kids acting aggressive and violent toward others to gain control of them. The teen and adult characters all want to be the leaders and don't care about hurting other people if it benefits them. The main character, a thief, attends Mandel Academy, which represents itself as an elite school for children of the wealthy and powerful, but actually teaches kids how to be worse criminals. Teen characters are viciously beaten up, murdered, or commit suicide, and there's an attempted rape scene, a severed head shown, and strong language (including "s--t," "bulls--t," "faggot," "ass," "dumba--," "dammit," "crap," "goddamn," and "f--k"). There's mild kissing, flirting, and allusions to sex having happened (but it's not shown).