Seven Deadlies: A Cautionary Tale

Common Sense Media says

Violent satire sees rich high schoolers through their sins.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Families can discuss the seven deadly sins and how they apply to today's world.  

Positive messages

Perry ultimately concludes that we all have the seven deadlies inside us -- it's just part of being human. She also learns the "ultimate challenge of life [is] not to find happiness, but to see it." 

Positive role models

Perry's a smart, driven student who really tries to help others. While she struggles with her own deadlies -- both envy and pride -- she's ultimately able to work through them. 

Violence

Though the tone is satirical, Seven Deadlies does have some serious, even grotesque violence. For example, a boy eats his own flesh; a girl is electrocuted during a backyard concert; a mother sics her vicious dogs on her daughter; an elderly lady calls in a hit on her grandson; and a boy is paralyzed during a football game.

Sex

Some kissing. Also, Perry's mother was a teenager when she gave birth to Perry. 

Language

A couple uses of "crap" and "ass," plus one "my God" and one "bat-s--t." 

Consumerism

There are many product mentions, but they're not endorsements: Coke, iPod, KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Halo, Grand Theft Auto, Louboutin, and more appear in the context of gluttony, envy, and other deadly sins.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A father injects his son with drugs to make him a better athlete. A boy takes prescription growth hormones. Twin girls accidentally send their brother into a coma when they dose him with his prescription medication.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Seven Deadlies is a satirical book about rich kids struggling with the seven deadly sins: envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath. There's no gory detail but plenty of violence: a boy who eats himself, an elderly lady who calls in a hit on her grandson, and a boy who's paralyzed during a football game. Teen narrator Perry, a Latina student on scholarship, blames bad parenting for the overindulged rich kids at her school but concludes that we all have the seven deadlies inside us. She also learns the "ultimate challenge of life [is] not to find happiness, but to see it." 

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What's the story?

Smart, driven Perry is a Latina scholarship student at a rich private high school. There, she tutors the indulged but largely ignored students, getting an inside glimpse into their lives ("It's not that the kids are dumb; it's worse, much worse. They're entitled"). She tells their stories -- and those of other kids -- in satirical tales with a sin theme. In "Sloth," her charge is obsessed with video games; in "Envy," a girl constantly changes her appearance until even her own mother can't recognize her. Each story's main character ends up killed, missing, or severely injured.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

SEVEN DEADLIES is such a strange story it's hard to decide exactly how to take it. With her practical, straight braids and common-sense attitude, Perry makes for a likable misfit narrator, and it's easy to relate to her take on modern parenting and overindulged children ("We should have a parade for the word no, have an annual No Day....No could save humanity. No to war, no to poverty, no to video games").

But, as with a lot of novels told through installments, some of the short stories here work better than others. Readers will remember the boy in "Gluttony," who not only eats the family cat but also his own flesh. But "Envy" lacks any real energy -- a missed opportunity for a more original story, especially since, according to Perry's wise mother, Envy is "the most dangerous sin of all." Readers may be puzzled by the conclusion, a letter from Perry's mom that introduces a new spin on the stories, and they may feel that, rather than adding mystery, it undermines her daughter's hard-won realizations about sins and happiness.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about which audience Seven Deadlies is written for. It features a teen protagonist, but it's being marketed as an adult book. Who do you think is the ideal reader?

  • Which of the seven deadly sins -- envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, wrath -- do you think is the most rampant in our culture today? 

  • What do you think of Perry's idea that the "ultimate challenge of life [is] not to find happiness, but to see it"? What does this have to do with the deadly sins? 

Book details

Author:Gigi Levangie
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Topics:High school
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Blue Rider Press
Publication date:October 17, 2013
Number of pages:256
Available on:Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook

This review of Seven Deadlies: A Cautionary Tale was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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