Thursday, 15 January 2015
Review: The Deadly 7 by Garth Jennings
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: January 15th, 2015
When Nelson's beloved big sister goes missing on a school trip, Nelson is devastated - he's not that good at making friends and his sister is the only person he can talk to. His parents join the search party and leave Nelson in the care of his mad uncle Pogo. Uncle Pogo is the caretaker of St Paul's Cathedral and it is here that Nelson stumbles across a machine, invented by Christopher Wren and buried for hundreds of years. Designed to extract the 7 deadly sins, the machine had a fault - once extracted, the sins became living, breathing monsters who would then follow the sinner around for eternity (unless they ate him first, in the case of the particularly sinful). Nelson accidentally extracts 7 deadly monsters from his own little soul. Ugly, cantankerous, smelly and often the cause of much embarrassment, Nelson's monsters are the last thing he needed in his life, but at least they're fairly harmless (he's a pretty good kid, on the whole). When he learns of their individual powers he realises the monsters can be put to good use, and together Nelson and the Deadly 7 set out on a quest across the globe to find and rescue his big sister. Somewhere along the way, Nelson realises that he finally has friends, even if they are smelly, lazy friends who like smashing stuff up.
The Deadly 7 is quite possibly the best children's book you will read this year. I know it's only January, but honestly, this book is THAT good. Not only is it laugh-out-loud funny, it's also clever and stars the best monster characters I've ever had the pleasure of spending three hundred pages with.
This is author Garth Jennings's debut novel, and I'll admit I was a bit skeptical at first. He's a well-known film and music video director, and I wondered how he'd handle a children's book. My apprehensions were totally unwarranted, of course, and I really do think this is the start of a fantastic writing career. I haven't been this captivated in a long while!
I don't want to give too much of the book away, because it's best to meet the monsters as you get to them. I will say it's about a boy called Nelson, whose sister goes missing. He ends up living with his Uncle Pogo, and inadvertently extracts the seven deadly sins from his soul, who manifest themselves as seven monsters called Miser, Stan, Honk, Puff, Crush, Spike and Nosh. Nelson and his monsters set off on a journey across the world in the hopes of saving his sister, and what follows is an unexpected adventure.
This book is so unusual that it automatically becomes good. More than good, actually, but you'll see that when you read it for yourself. The monsters are without a doubt the best part of the whole story, and I love all of them and their strange appearances and helpful (but weird) powers. Puff and Nosh are my favourites, though I really did like them all. Some of the ideas they come up with are just so funny, and there were a few occasions when I was laughing my head off at some of their antics. The Heathrow airport scene brings back particularly hilarious memories, so look out for that one.
I don't have a single negative thing to say about The Deadly 7; it's long but I could have read more, and it's busy but it never once detracts from the overall story. The imagination and humour on every page is an absolute treat to read, and if this is the standard we can expect from 2015 then the bar has been set very, very high. Good look to anyone hoping to better it!
Everyone who likes good stories and unforgettable characters needs to read The Deadly 7. I guarantee you will fall in love with the monsters, wish Nelson was your little brother and be amazed that a false leg can double as a telephone. I really hope there's a sequel in the works and that this first book sells ridiculously well - it deserves to above all else, and I'll be doing everything I can to ensure people hear about it. Now, please, go and meet the monsters!