Thursday, 30 December 2010

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

Being over 650 pages long and set in an Irish boarding school I read this book purely because so many other bloggers loved this one. Since I enjoyed it so much, I'm going to conclude that these bloggers have great taste (I knew this anyway really)

Daniel ‘Skippy’ Juster dies in the first chapter (although you might have gathered that from the title) the book then travels back in time and shows the reader the events leading up to Skippy's death. Most of the plot takes place in Seabrook College; the boys boarding school that Skippy attended where a whole host of characters from Skippy's friends, teachers and the girls in the neighbouring school are introduced.

The teenagers in the book spend large parts of it being quite nasty to each other in an environment where bullying seems to be rife among the more unpopular students. Copious amounts of drugs, eating disorders and sex seem to be on the cards for many of the more popular teens. Added to the mix are the teachers exploits making this a sometimes sad and depressing book but also thought provoking and laced throughout with humour.

'When he came back from summer holidays this year the boys had changed. Suddenly everyone was tall and gangling and talking about drinking and sperm. Walking among them is like being in a BO-smelling forest.'

The boys themselves and their environment are drawn well and are typical of the age they live in where all the teenagers have the latest gadgets and the use of mobile phones and the internet mean nothing is secret for long.

There is a lot in this book and one which I found highly enjoyable, if heartbreaking to read.

If you find the kind of rude things 14 year old boys say to each other quite funny then you will find many funny moments in this book. I do and so I laughed out loud even if the characters did ruin the poem The Road Less Travelled for me.

Verdict 4/5

Posted by Jess


  1. I got this one for Christmas and can't wait to read it!

  2. I have to admit I've heard so much about this one that I've been completely turned off of it. Sometimes I'm negatively influenced by blogging...then again, what you said about the rude 14 year old boys makes me think I'd be less likely to like it...

  3. I saw this book in the store and almost bought it. I think I might go ahead and get it. This is the first review I've seen of it. Thanks!

  4. I'm really pleased that you liked this one. It sounds as though it would be quite dull, but it is amazing how 600+ pages about a boarding school can be so gripping. I know exactly what you mean about that poem - don't you just love teenage boys ;-)

  5. I attempted and decided to not finish. I was discouraged by the negative tone, and am certainly not particularly keen on reading about the perspective of a 14 year old boy. I had my fill while growing up with 3 brothers! Glad you enjoyed it, though. Perhaps I'll attempt it at a later date. Nice review!

  6. Stephanie - I hope you enjoy t, its long but it doesn't go on and on.

    Amanda - ah if its not your thing then its not your thing. There are too many books out there to read ones you don't think your like.

    Chelle - there are loads of reviews of this mostly on the English blogs because it was shortlisted for the booker prize. I haven't seen a negative one yet.

    farmlanebooks - yeah I now want my son to never grow up and become a teenager LOL didn't think it dragged at any point for such a long one.

    Beth - I grew up wth brothers but I think that made t appeal more because I know what they can be like. Its not for everyone though.

  7. I have heard so many good things about this. Can't wait to read it. Plus I have a soft spot for Irish authors...