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Skippy Dies: A Novel Hardcover – August 31, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (August 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865479437
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865479432
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #289,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2010: Seabrook College is an all-boys Catholic prep school in contemporary Dublin, where the founding Fathers flounder under a new administration obsessed with the school's "brand" and teachers vacillate between fear and apathy when faced with rooms full of texting, hyper-tense, hormone-fueled boys. It's the boys--and one boy in particular--that give this raucous, tender novel its emotional kick. Daniel "Skippy" Juster is a breed apart from his friends, more sensitive than any of them, but never visibly reactive to the pressures that weigh heavily on him. The events that lead to his untimely (though tragicomic) death unfold scene by scene, in a chorus of perfectly executed moments that are powerful enough to make you laugh and weep at once. When you read Skippy Dies, you won't necessarily feel like a teenager again--and in fact, may realize you'd never want to--but you'll certainly appreciate how painful, exhilarating, and confusing it still is to grow up. --Anne Bartholomew

From Booklist

*Starred Review* It’s no spoiler to acknowledge that Skippy, the main character in Murray’s second novel, does indeed die, since the boy is a goner by page 5 of the prologue. Following his character’s untimely demise, Murray takes the reader back in time to learn more about the sweetly engaging Skippy—a 14-year-old student at a historic Catholic boys’ school in Dublin—and his friends Ruprecht, a near genius who is passionately interested in string theory; Mario, a self-styled lothario; and Dennis, the resident cynic. We also meet the girl with whom Skippy is hopelessly in love, Lori, and his bête noire, Carl, a drug-dealing, psychopathic fellow student who is also in love with Lori. The faculty have their innings, too, especially the history teacher Howard (the Coward) Fallon, who has also fallen in love—he with the alluring substitute teacher Miss McIntyre. And then there is the truly dreadful assistant principal, Greg Costigan. In this darkly comic novel of adolescence (in some cases arrested), we also learn about the unexpected consequences of Skippy’s death, something of contemporary Irish life, and a great deal about the intersections of science and metaphysics and the ineluctable interconnectedness of the past and the present. At 672 pages, this is an extremely ambitious and complex novel, filled with parallels, with sometimes recondite references to Irish folklore, with quantum physics, and with much more. Hilarious, haunting, and heartbreaking, it is inarguably among the most memorable novels of the year to date. --Michael Cart

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Customer Reviews

The characterisations in this book are very good, and the writing is interesting too.
Sir Furboy
I don't want to give away too much other than to say all the characters are wonderfully portrayed in such fantastic detail.
Geebus Maximus Americanus
Though intermittently funny and consistently clever, it's too unsettling to be labeled as humor.
Noa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
This book (longlisted for the Booker Prize, shortlisted for Irish Novel of the Year and Costa Novel of the Year, and to be adapted for the big screen by Neil Jordan) grabbed hold of me on the very dramatic opening pages and tossed me out the other end (page 672!) only 3 days later. What a page turner. Hailing as I do from the same side of the Liffey where this story is based, it was like being transported back in time to my schooldays, though how times have changed with the onslaught of modern technologies.

Skippy Dies is based primarily in Seabrook College, home to day and boarding pupils alike. It fixes in on both the young teenage students and their teachers alike, and their lives away from school. What really struck me was how today's teenagers have no concept of what having a private life means. Camera phones and social networking sites are the norm and any indiscretions can be made widely known in seconds.

The book deals beautifully with the story behind each of the main characters, exploring their past, their family life, what brought them to the here and now and their current emotional state. When you add the girls school next door into the mix the story really takes off.

The title is self explanatory, but all is not what it seems, so my advice is to let Murray take you on this wonderfully touching journey of discovery.

I don't want to give away too much other than to say all the characters are wonderfully portrayed in such fantastic detail. Murray's style of writing is both hilarious and poignant.

This is not one to miss. I read the full, one book edition. It also comes in a really nice 3-volume box set if you fancy breaking it up.
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A 672-page novel is an investment, but Skippy Dies by Paul Murray gets so much right that I hardly know where to begin. The novel opens with the death of the eponymous Daniel "Skippy" Juster as the 14-year-old collapses in a donut shop. From there, we are taken back in time to the myriad events that lead up to that moment, and we spend the next 450 pages falling in love with Skippy and hoping for a different outcome. The final 200 pages are the aftermath, and are arguably the most compelling of this affecting tale.

Now, a book about the death of a young boy sounds like a bummer--and Skippy's death is far from the only tragedy depicted--but as in life, the tragedy is balanced with high comedy. The novel is set at Seabrook College, an upscale private preparatory school in Ireland. This, the institution's 140th year, is a time of transition. The Catholic priests who have been in control for more than a century are beginning to take a back-seat to secular influences. (Yes, contemporary scandals in the Catholic Church are touched upon within the plot, but they are not the focus of the story.)

While Skippy is a pivotal character, the novel is an ensemble piece. We meet Skippy's school pals, the older boys who bully them, the teachers and priests that teach them, the girls from the neighboring school, and a smattering of parents and significant others. There's a plot. Many of them, in fact; it's an expansive novel and much happens along the way. But this story is character-driven, and that's where Murray excels. His characters are delicious! Ruprecht, the idiosyncratic genius; Mario, the teenage lothario; Howard "The Coward" Fallon, a teacher searching for identity; and an acting principal you'll love to hate.
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106 of 121 people found the following review helpful By EJ on September 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is exhausting, both emotionally and for your eyeballs. Although the story largely takes place within the narrow confines of a boys' Catholic school in Dublin, the breadth of the issues discussed is as wide as (and includes) the universe. The writing is insightful and the subject matter is interesting. However, the book was so densely packed with musings ranging from the origins of the universe to the nature of pop music that it just frayed around the edges a bit. A few of the threads in the book could have probably been trimmed to make it a tighter, more interesting read.

The centerpiece of the story is Skippy, a teenaged boy attending the Catholic school, and I won't be spoiling anything when I mention that Skippy Dies. The bulk of the book describes the events leading up to his death, with a large cast of characters who seem to corner each possible Catholic schoolboy (nerd, ladies' man, rich kid) and faculty (boring old priest, returning alumnus, hot chick, possible molester) stereotype. This is not to say that these characters are not interesting, and, in some cases, provide some much-needed humor in the midst of what is unquestionably a grim tale. The biggest problem with the story is that at times, the plot gets crushed by its own weight. There is a lot going on, and it does not necessarily all tie together in the end.

I finished this book a few days ago and wanted to let it marinate a bit before writing a review, because I could not decide if this was a modern classic and my initial impression of it being a bit over-done was just from reader fatigue. Ultimately, to me the book was between 3 and 4 stars, and fell to 3 stars for the long and rambling sections that I was hopeful would be tied together better. In the end, they were repetitive and just did not maintain my interest. Without question, Murray is an excellent writer and a deep thinker with a lot to say. In this book, there was just a bit too much of all of it.
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