Monday, August 17, 2009

BR: Skulduggery Pleasant

by Derek Landy

No intro sentence, straight to the summary. Onwards you fools! (no offence, I just finished watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Hysterical, I tell you.)

Detective Skulduggery Pleasant is not the type of person you usually meet. For one, he's a walking, talking skeleton that can do magic and summon fireballs on command, and for two... well he's just awesome. After her uncle is murdered, 12 year old Stephanie joins forces with Skulduggery to find out who killed him, and is dragged into a world she never thought existed, with magic, mages, and all sorts of wicked stuff. Her boring, mundane life has been turned upside down. Now they have to stop the evil Serpine before he seizes the Scepter and 'rules the world' so to speak.

Ohmigosh, this book is FUNNY. Well, I don't want to get your hopes up too high because people's taste in humor varies, but basically, this book is one of the funniest ones I've read this year. Its a "Juvenile Paperback" in library terms, but that just means its a bit kiddish, and you can kinda tell. The adventure is non-stop, the mystery is fun, and the characters are aimed at younger audiences IMO. It's not a 'deep, angsty, with clever humor' teenage book, it's just one of those fun books for kids that you grow up reading and loving. It really is nice to take a break from serious themes and just enjoy the ride. Don't judge it by its intended audiences though, give it a try if you want a laugh.

Well, what was so funny about the book? The banter. God, the conversations between Stephanie and Skulduggery was so funny! Skulduggery is such a fun character to read. At the end of the book, there's an 'extra's section, where an "interviewer" asks Skulduggery:

Describe yourself in 5 words.
Charming. Witty. Lethal. Brilliant. Modest.

Gosh, when I read the last word, I burst out laughing. Here's an example of one of their conversations:

"You can't leave me alone," [Stephanie] said, following him into the living room.
"No," he corrected, "I can. You'll be perfectly safe."
"The front door's off!"
"Well, yes. You'll be perfectly safe as long as they don't come through the front door." (54)

And I can't resist, here's an example of Skulduggery's funny-ness, after he 'heroically' rescues Stephanie from a bad-guy, and they meet.

He had no eyeballs, so it was hard to tell if he was looking at her or not. "You know, I met your uncle under similar circumstances. Well, kind of similar. But he was drunk. And we were in a bar. And he vomited on my shoes. So I suppose the actually circumstances aren't overly similar, but both events include a meeting so..." (46)

I usually dog-ear parts in novels I find funny or just passages I want to reread, and there were so many in this book. The characters are drawn excellently, and they are witty as ever. Even Skulduggery has a dark past that haunts him, which added depth. The characters are exactly deep though, but it didn't really matter. The mystery and adventure aspect were also written well, and the novel was fast-paced with clever dialogue. I'm actually happy to read a book that doens't include romance. Too many books these days contain that (or may I just tend to like them more...) but this was a nice break.

Landy has created a world that's different, but 'right in front of us', with the sorcerers, magic, cool artifacts, and Elders who keep peace. He may have taken a few ideas from other magic novels, or maybe they are just coincidentally similar (I found a few magical elements of the novel similar to Eragon). I have little complaints about the novel, apart from the fact that I wished the characters could be a bit more 'deep', but this is a juvenile fiction novel, and it really wasn't needed.

9/10 - because it had those moments that were absolutely brilliant. Lots of the dialogue was hilarious, and put perfectly that I had to burst out laughing. Skulduggery's character of an anti-modest, unhumble skeleton who couldn't resist commenting on how funny/clever/smart he is was great. Again, one of the funniest novels I've read recently, so if you want a laugh, try this one out! Not for people who want an in-depth read, or an emotional novel. This is just an adventure of a kid + skeleton + other cool people in a magical world. This book is an exmaple of my favorite type of humor (witty, clever dialogue, with perfect timing).

(Here) is a link to a book review that directed me to this. Thanks Casey, from Bookworm4life!!! Oh, and there's a sequel called Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing With Fire, and it's already out.


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