The beginning of this book sees the title character, Skippy, die during a doughnut-eating competition with his friend Ruprecht. This book not only tells us what happens to Skippy before his untimely death but also what impact Skippy’s death has on the people close to him.
Paul Murray’s novel seems, for quite some time, to be something akin to ‘Dead Poets’ Society’ and I found it difficult to care about some of the characters. Many of the privileged boarders at Dublin’s Seabrook College for Boys aren’t particularly likeable. The characters – from boffin Ruprecht to beautiful but messed up Lori – are well-drawn and very believable. Ruprecht’s room-mate Daniel ‘Skippy’ Juster has a lot on his mind, including his burgeoning romance with Lori as well as the fact that Carl, the school psycho, seems to have it in for him among other things.
The list of characters is rather extensive and I found myself getting confused. However, I eventually worked out who was who and found each narrative equally compelling.
‘Skippy Dies’ has laughs, romance, and heartache and even a little bit of time travel. It’s a great, up-to-date school saga with a power-mad acting head, a drug-dealing bully and a History teacher who doesn’t know what he wants from life.
Paul Murray has quite a unique talent – he manages to balance both tragedy and comedy succinctly. His honest account of modern youth is both disarming and heartbreaking. My only criticism is that, for a school saga, this book is really rather long with no particular decisive ending.