When I was offered to review Seven Deadlies, I thought, "...Cool!" There weren't many reviews on Goodreads, despite the fact that it was already released, but at least from the summary it sounded like something I would like. With its unique premise of being written like a college admissions letter, combined with the seven deadly sins and some illustrations, this should have been a hit with me. It... wasn't. And I'm deeply sorry. But it just didn't work out.
Seven Deadlies is set up as seven short stories, each for one of the sins, an introduction and an epilogue. The introduction explains why Perry is writing to the university in spite of the fact that she's only 14. She has had strange experiences while working for various babysitting/tutoring jobs and aspires to be a journalist, so she wanted to practice writing about these stories.
So we get into them and.. what? Instantly it becomes clear that this is very much a middle grade novel, despite it claiming to be young adult, as we start with a Lust story that has nothing to do with sex or anything, but just people (including adults) drooling over a derivative of the Jonas brothers. I was confused. What was that supposed to be? In the next stories, we get into the other sins and... it was bizarre. With things like kids who started playing video games at 1 year old, whose parents are totally okay with that because they are too occupied with their own lives, to THAT GLUTTONY STORY OH MY GOD *shudders* It got creepier and creepier and further detached from reality.
Parts of the writing style didn't work for me. I disliked the way that in each story (bear in mind each one is like 20 pages), Perry repeats her mother's full name, paired with some praise like "the inestimable Yelena Maria Gonzales". She'll continually remind you her mother is a registered nurse. She also insists on using parentheses to explain certain things, most pointedly the pronounciation of the names of her clients. In one of the stories, she repeatedly puts the pronounciation in brackets and each time writes it differently - and none of them sound remotely correct. Apparently Willhelm = VIL-h-eye-m = VEEL-home = VUL-chum = VAL-ham... NO. Was that supposed to be funny? Because look at my face. I'm not laughing.
At first Perry sounded quirky and fun, but the further I got, the more exasperated I got with her writing style. It grated on my nerves. But I suppose there was a reason for that, because Perry was not a normal girl. Now, before the epilogue, I didn't now how to feel about this book. It was rather bland. Some of the attempts at humor succeeded, some didn't. I thought it was unrealistic, and I quickly got bored. Then the epilogue explains that [spoiler]Perry is, in fact, the crazy one. She invented all the stories, believes they are real, but in reality they never happened. She's extremely intelligent, with an impressively high IQ, and got an obsession with the seven deadly sins, which then drove her to make these things up.[/spoiler] It should have made me think differently about the whole story. But instead of that desired reaction, I just did another shrug and sigh of exasperation.
I think ultimately this book will be read in two ways: either you think from the beginning that it's a fun yet exaggerated and unrealistic read purely for the entertainment of middle grade readers, or as you read you feel more and more diconnected and bored until the ending happens. In case of the former, you reach the epilogue and you hate it and want to toss it out because it took all the fun out of it. In case of the latter, likely like me, you'll still feel unsatisfied because there weren't enough indications that the story would take that kind of turn - you were just still bored and skeptical all the way through, and though the ending should make you feel differently about all of it, it likely won't.
The book just sadly didn't work for me. I liked that the story didn't get overly religious and that it featured a POC for the main character, but that's about all I can say that I liked. While the ending should have thrown me for a loop, the book had dwindled too long in the unrealistic and detached area of I-can't-bring-myself-to-care to have the desired effect. I'd say you're better off skipping this one. I do, however, wonder how it would fair in the hands of a middle grade reader. (But, honestly, this should not be marketed as being young adult.)