Seven Wonders Book 1: The Colossus Rises

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Seven Wonders Book 1: The Colossus Rises Book Poster Image
Super-teens clash with ancient history in OK series start.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids will be introduced to the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World in this series, starting with the Colossus of Rhodes. The myth of Atlantis and its sinking is also discussed in some detail, as is genetic mutation (an imaginary one in this case) and rock climbing technique. Solving puzzles to follow clues involves word and math games.

Positive Messages

Trust, teamwork, bravery and believing in yourself are overlying messages. Trust in adults and their motivations seems the hardest to achieve, especially when they can be so cagey.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jack feels like the underdog next to his high-achieving friends, but becomes a strong leader of the group, helping them to come together and get out of some really sticky situations. Aly is the only girl -- incredibly tech savvy with pink hair, so refreshingly she defies stereotypes. Cass is brilliant but wimpy for unknown reasons. Marco is the enthusiastic action hero of the foursome. Professor Bhegad doesn't make the best mentor for the teen group he's assembled; he withholds information from them repeatedly, which makes his motivations suspect.


The four main 13-year-old characters have a genetic defect that can kill them without a series of treatments, and they are secreted from their homes before they die; even with treatments they're told they probably won't live past 14. Jack and Aly are especially distressed to be separated from family, with talk about Jack's mother dying years before. Two of the foursome almost die from encounters with mythical beasts, and are thought dead by their friends and mourned. The two rescue attempts and one near-escape find the characters fighting mythical beasts, the giant colossus, "monks" with guns, a capsized boat, and fire and near-suffocation from the smoke. Jack repeatedly dreams of his own death by falling into an abyss.


There's embarrassed near-nudity when Cass' pants burn off and he's forced to run around in Simpsons boxers.


Symbols are used for one swear word when Jack gets hit on the head.


A few mentions here and there, such as The Simpsons, Converse, Kit Kat, Skittles, and Skype.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that we recommend The Colossus Rises for kids 10 and up -- an age rating that's a couple of years older than the publisher's recommendation -- simply because the story is more complicated than most books for 8-year-olds and would be harder for them to follow. The fantasy violence is about average for the level of action and adventure and includes fights with giant ancient beasts, a near-drowning, a big fire, and more. The four teens' brushes with death are many -- two are thought dead during their adventures and all aren't expected to live long thanks to a genetic marker that makes them both exceptional and physically vulnerable. Jack makes a good leader of the group, and Aly, the only girl, is a tech genius and kind of punk -- a nice change.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byyounghorses December 26, 2015

Graphic scenes I wasn't aware of

I read reviews of this book before starting to read it to my almost 10 year old and thought it sounded great. We read the Percy Jackson and Kane series together... Continue reading
Adult Written byMom98502 September 5, 2018

Poor character development

I was looking for a series of audiobooks to follow the Harry Potter series, which is a high standard to meet. This was s total flop. The characters were compl... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byRecosa April 30, 2021


Perfect series for fans of Mythology and Rick Riordan (author). If you have read the Percy Jackson, Trials of Apollo, Heroes of Olympus and other Uncle Rick ser... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byKayleigh146104 December 16, 2014

Seven Wonders

I think that this I great to read for everyone 11 and older because it has so exploring and it does have some inoprprite stuff like it talks about guts but it i... Continue reading

What's the story?

Thirteen-year-old Jack is headed to a math test when he blacks out in the school parking lot. Could it have anything to do with that upside-down \"V\" mysteriously appearing on the back of his head? The shady Professor Bhegdad is sure he possesses a rare genetic marker that sharpens his mind immensely ... right before it kills him. So sure that he secretly whisks Jack away to an isolated island to treat him and a few other \"V\"-clad survivors. Jack meets Cass, who's a walking GPS; pink-haired Aly, who can hack any database she sets her mind to; and Marco, who sports superhuman strength and battle smarts. Their backgrounds may be different, but they certainly agree on one thing: Professor Bhegdad isn't telling them all his reasons for bringing them there. And the ancient power hidden on that very island is just one of his many secrets.

Is it any good?

Fans of Percy Jackson and the Kane Chronicles may ask themselves: The formula's the same (modern teens meet mythology and big adventures), so why aren't I absolutely loving this? The adventures are still big, with some scary creatures and clues to puzzle out. But the characters need some fleshing out -- some moments of reflection so we can know them well enough to get excited about traveling the world with them, finding cool ancient stuff for what's probably six more books.

Instead, the author piles on another mysterious angle to overcomplicate the plot or takes the teens back -- again -- to wondering why they're on the island and can they really trust the crazy professor? Who knows? But it's more important for readers to put their trust in the main characters first.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • What drew you to this series? The compelling cover? All the marketing to fans of Percy Jackson-style fantasies?

  • Do you look forward to reading Seven Wonders Book 2? Why or why not?

  • There's plenty to read about the Ancient Wonders of the World and why they were considered so special. Books like this one are fun to follow up with a bit of research.

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