Hilary's Reviews > Skippy Dies

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
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's review
Sep 06, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: library-copy
Read in November, 2010

I wish the author had approached me for editorial advice, because this book could have been about 200 pages shorter. Just no need for it to go on for as long as it did - it hooked me early on, and lost me halfway through. I like a book that can weave together a lot of different plot threads, but Murray made the mistake of apparently believing them all to be deserving of equal attention.

"Skippy" is a teenager at a Dublin boarding school, and he keels over in the opening pages. The next 600 are spent revealing how and why. This is an all-boys club, I feel it's worth mentioning: the school itself is one for boys, and the only female characters are either ignored (at best) or mocked. By design? Perhaps. But not much fun to read. The line between the relative misbehavior of the school's pupils and teachers gets increasingly blurred as the book goes on, and everyone makes bad decisions over and over. There are better books about boarding school intrigue, Joanne Harris' "Gentlemen and Players" chief among them (with a *very* similar setting, and not entirely dissimilar plot.) That said, for a book with a pretty dark plot, there are a handful of really wonderful, funny touching scenes in this one, mostly involving Skippy and his odd bunch of friends, before things really take a turn for the worse.

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