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Skippy Dies: A Novel Paperback – August 30, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 196 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865478619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865478619
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (196 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top 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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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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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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