Thursday, August 27, 2009

BR: Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing With Fire

by Derek Landy

Well, if you don't know yet, I really enjoyed the first installment of the series because it was funny, the review can be found (here). There's at least 3 books in this series.

So Detective Skulduggery is back, along with his assistant and protege, Valkyrie Cain (Stephanie, to those who are confused). The bad guys still want to raise the Faceless Ones from the dead, so they have to try and stop it with the help of Tanith, Bliss, China, and others. The new grand mage may be a bit 'crooked', and the bad guy, Baron Vengeous, seems to have some armor that makes him...invincible. Then Vengeous' bodyguard/killer-for-hire seems to have his own agenda, and the monstrous Grotesquery is being pieced back together. Complicated? Yeah, it seems so, but it doesn't hurt that Valkyrie has been honing her skills and can throw fireballs with Skulduggery, does it?

Okay, to be perfectly honest, I was pretty disappointed with this book. As I mentioned before, the part I enjoyed the most about the first book was the humor aspect, and quite frankly, this book didn't measure up. There were not as many funny moments, no dog-eared pages, and the dialogue wasn't as great. That doesn't mean the action wasn't there (it was!) but I was just sad since the thing I was looking forward to most (a laugh) was rarely there.

As I said in the summary, this book was really fast paced and there were lots of characters to keep tabs on. Characters that appeared in the beginning suddenly appear near the end, and I have no idea who the heck he is (Spring-heeled Jack for example). The story itself was good, and the action was totally there. Poor Valkyrie and Skuduggery never seem to be able to rest, unless they're in a hospital, that is.

I felt there could have been more character development with Valkyrie, she rarely mentions her sadness regarding not seeing her parents enough, but she does think about overusing her reflection. She does seem to be developing her magic pretty quickly, and already seems too good at hand-to-hand fighting, which may be a bit unrealistic unless she's like a superwoman thingy. Skulduggery was pretty flat, not much is revealed about him, and he's basically the same witty/cool/funny skeleton-detective as before. Shucks. But again, this is a 'Juvenile' book, so there isn't much to expect.

Landy did a good job keeping the action going, and the plot was driving the book a lot more than the characters. I liked the supporting characters, with Tanith and China who turns out to be pretty wicked. The bad-guys were also a great inclusion to the novel, they were all well described, had personalities, and nice'n'evil.

7.5/10 - because the humor wasn't there for me as much as the action was. The book was average because of the good action, but it lacked character depth and development. Minor characters were hard to remember, especially since I split the book up, reading it over a few days (gasp!) but that's just me. If you liked the first book more for its humor, I probably wouldn't recommend this to you. If you liked the non-stop action more, you should try this one. Looking for a 'deeper' novel, this one might not be for you either.


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