Seven Wonders Book 4: The Curse of the King

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Seven Wonders Book 4: The Curse of the King Book Poster Image
Gifted kids infiltrate the enemy in action-focused fantasy.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The lost island of Atlantis probably isn't real, but the book explores real consequences to sea levels and humanity if an island were to suddenly rise out of the sea. Less talk here of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Statue of Zeus, probably because it's a fake. And an explanation of what a pentimento is in old paintings. A reminder of the plot of Julius Caesar and why he said, "Et tu, Brute?"

Positive Messages

Teamwork, bravery, and believing in yourself are overlying messages in the first three Seven Wonders books and in The Curse of the King. How lack of sleep alters your perspective.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jack chooses to sacrifice himself for his friends but also chooses to withhold information from them. Cass fights despair when he thinks Jack's plan won't work but is extremely brave in a crisis. Aly remains a skillful character who solves problems with computer research and her hacking abilities.

Violence

Three times, characters are feared dead for a few chapters or a few pages -- killed by explosion or choking or flatlining in a hospital bed -- but turn out to be alive. One man dies of fever, and friends start to bury him. Plenty of action sequences using fists, falls from cliffs, a deliberate car crash that flips a car, tranquilizers, a crowbar, knives, and guns. Mostly people are knocked unconscious or burned. A plane crashes.

Sex

Some hand-holding by Jack and Aly.

Language
Consumerism

Mostly lines from classic movies and TV shows shouted by a reanimated statue that's watched TV for decades.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Peter Lerangis' The Curse of the King is the fourth book in the Seven Wonders series, which sets four 13-year-olds on adventures to find seven sources of power, each hidden in one of the ancient wonders of the world. In this installment, they spend the least amount of time hunting the Seventh Wonder in question, the Statue of Zeus, in Greece and more time on a secret island fighting baddies. Three times, characters are feared dead for a few chapters or a few pages -- seemingly killed by explosion or choking or flatlining in a hospital bed -- but turn out to be alive. One man does die from fever, and friends start to bury him. Expect plenty of action sequences using fists, falls from cliffs, a deliberate car crash that flips a car, tranquilizers, a crowbar, knives, and guns. Mostly people are knocked unconscious or burned. The talented main characters are brave and resourceful and work well together to survive. All of them need special treatments to stay alive, thanks to the genetic defect that marks them as both gifted and as descendants of Atlantis.

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What's the story?

Jack, Cass, and Aly all are alive and thinking of settling back into their lives in the United States when a horrible reminder of their genetic condition jolts them back to reality. Aly lies dying in a hospital bed in California, and Jack, Cass, and Jack's father rush to her side. Jack wonders why he and Cass are still healthy until he realizes the shard he carries around of a broken Loculus has magic healing properties. He saves Aly with it, but it's at a cost: The shard shrinks before his eyes and will soon be too small to keep them all healthy. So Jack does what he does best -- hatches a plan. And it's a daring one, to get captured by the enemy Massa while tracking down the next of seven Loculi and go back to the secret island they now rule to find the other shards of the healing Loculus -- then try to escape in one piece. It's a plan that will either save their lives or kill them.

Is it any good?

Readers who've already found three Loculi with Aly, Cass, Jack, and sometimes Marco should be satisfied enough with THE CURSE OF THE KING. We find out more about Jack's mystery Massa mom, get a reunion with Marco, and watch the main characters enact a pretty daring plan to save themselves. It all goes by pretty fast with plenty of action fight scenes. Perhaps too fast.

As usual, the series chooses action over careful character development. Sure, it's cool that Jack and friends are so talented -- that's clear -- but in all the foursome's life-threatening situations, you'd expect to see lots more friend bonding and personality on the page.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the seven wonders of the ancient world and what earned them that title. Which of these places still exists? Which one would you like to visit if it were still around?

  • How does the fourth installment in the Seven Wonders series measure up? Will you keep reading? What do you think will happen to the main characters?

  • Which Loculus would you like to have: strength, invisibility, flight, or healing? There are three left to find. What do you think they are?

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