Skippy Dies – Paul Murray

 Long listed for 2010 Booker Prize

One of the reasons I love reading entire long lists is that I stumble upon fantastic books that I wouldn’t otherwise pick up. I had heard good things about Skippy Dies before the Booker long list was announced, but I couldn’t motivate myself to read 650+ pages about teenagers living in an Irish boarding school. I’m so pleased that I read this book as it was entertaining, gripping and insightful.

The book opens with Daniel ‘Skippy’ Juster dying. At first the reason for his death seems obvious, but the plot then goes back in time and we slowly discover that the cause of Skippy’s death isn’t as simple as people initially suspected.

Much of this book could be described as a coming-of-age story, but unlike most other books which describe the lives of teenagers, this book captivated me. Skippy drew me into his emotionally charged world and nearly managed to make me laugh and cry – something no other book has managed to do. I was amazed at how much the everyday school life engaged me – I flew through the book and found every single one of the pages to be captivating and necessary for the plot.

Skippy’s roommate is Ruprecht, an overweight genius trying utilise M-theory to travel to another dimension. I’m a big fan of complex science in literature, but I’m sure that those who struggle to understand physics will still love Ruprecht’s enthusiasm for invention. As well as physics we are also treated to war poetry, Irish folklore and an array of other subjects – I loved it!

As the book drew to a conclusion I became increasingly impressed with the complexity of the plot. When I reached the final page I wanted to start the book all over again, just so I could see the little clues that I’d failed to pick up on.

This book works on so many levels – it is easy to read, but the text hides enough to entertain multiple re-readings.

I can see future generations studying this book and I think it would be a worthy winner of the 2010 Booker Prize.

Highly recommended.

Have I persuaded you to try this book?

Do you think it deserves to win the Booker Prize?

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  1. I have not heard of this book before but it sounds fantastic!! I love the sound of this!

    1. Jackie says:

      I really hope that you decide to pick it up and enjoy it as much as I did.

  2. Jessica says:

    I had no idea what this book was about or that it was so long. I have added it to my wish list.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jessica, I hope that you manage to get hold of a copy :-)

  3. Steph says:

    So great to see such an enthusiastic response from you about this one, Jackie. This is one of the books on the long-list that definitely appeals to me and sounds like just my kind of book. I agree that the length is a tad daunting, which is why I’ll probably pick it up in the three-part paperback set when its released over here as opposed to the hulking hardcover! It sounds like there’s a lot to enjoy in this one, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading it myself!

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, I read the single paperback edition and it wasn’t too bad – I wouldn’t like a hardback edition though :-)

      Please don’t be daunted by the length of this one. I read it in four days which is very quick for a book this long – I didn’t really want to put it down which partly explains it, but the rest just flowed so well that it never felt daunting. I’m sure you’ll love it.

  4. Sandy says:

    I thought Skippy was a dog for some reason, and there is no way, prior to this review, I would have ever considered picking it up. But when you rate something this high, it doesn’t lose you in the middle, or leave a plot thread hanging, and you say you loved it? That is all the convincing I need. I’m already dreaming of the audio…

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, LOL! and I guess you’d avoid reading a book all about a dog dying ;-)

      I don’t think they’ve made an audio version of this one yet – I hope that they make one for you soon.

  5. Tricia says:

    I loved Skippy Dies, and I agree with all of the things you have said in your review. I think that it is definitely deserving of the Booker 2010.

    1. Jackie says:

      Tricia, I’m actually hoping that it wins now. That feels weird as David Mitchell is one of my favourite authors and Room is my favourite book of 2010, but Skippy Dies is a very special book and deserves the Booker more than the others. I have a feeling it will improve in my head as time passes – the more I think about it the cleverer it seems :-)

  6. raidergirl3 says:

    Physics? awesome, I’ll keep my eye out. I’ll trust you on the ‘650 pages but reads really fast’ aspect.

    1. Jackie says:

      raidergirl3, I’m sure you’ll love the physics :-)

  7. Aishwarya says:

    I’m glad you liked this! It’s the best thing I’ve read this year (probably in the last couple of years), and I’d be thrilled if it won the Booker.

    1. Jackie says:

      Aishwarya, I’m actually considering upping it to 5 stars. I think with time it could improve – I’ll have to see how the next few months go, but I’m sure it will make my top 5 of 2010.

  8. Loved this book – it’s actually incredibly thought-provoking, insightful and clever, and I loved all the intertwining plots as well. Glad you enjoyed this book, and like you, I hope it makes the shortlist. Not sure about it being a worthy winner, but then again, I’ve only read five of the long-listed books, so you’re in a much better place to comment on that. I wouldn’t complain if it won, to be honest.

    1. Jackie says:

      anothercookiecrumbles, I have heard fantastic things about C, so everything could change once I’ve read that one, but for now (having read 10 of the long list) I think that Skippy Dies is the most deserving of the prize. It is such a wonderful book and it is so nice to see that other people are enjoying it too. :-)

  9. I am going to have to bite the bullet and pick this one up. Like you, I didn’t hear about it before the list came out, but it’s one of those that caught my eye. I’m glad you loved it so much.

    1. Jackie says:

      Literate Housewife, Yeah! I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did :-)

  10. Patty says:

    I have had this book in my sights but had not heard that anyone read it yet…it sounds wonderful…

    1. Jackie says:

      Patty, I’m pleased I was able to be the first person to tell you how wonderful it is. Enjoy :-)

  11. I’m glad to see you enjoyed this one. It comes out in the U.S. tomorrow, and I have it set to download to my Kindle. I’m really looking forward to it!

    1. Jackie says:

      Carrie, I didn’t realise that it is released today in the US. I look forward to seeing how it is received over there as it could be viewed as a very British book – not sure if that is good or bad!

  12. Belle says:

    Yes, you’ve persuaded me to give this one a try. I think I would have passed over it, too, but really love what you have to say in your review. It’s on my list now.

    1. Jackie says:

      Belle, Great news :-) I hope that you enjoy it.

  13. David H says:

    I can’t tire of enthusing about this book; one of my favourite reads of the year. I’d love to see it on the Booker shortlist.

    1. Jackie says:

      David, I’m afraid I’d missed your enthusing. This will be one of my favourite reads of 2010 too. Hopefully we’ll be able to enthuse together now :-)

  14. Teresa says:

    I put this on my list after seeing the review at Another Cookie Crumbles yesterday. I’m glad to see you enjoyed it–that makes it more likely that I’ll keep it on my list!

    1. Jackie says:

      Teresa, I saw Anothercookiecrumbles review just after posting mine – it was great to see someone else enjoying it :-)

  15. Amy says:

    This sounds awesome! I’m glad you found one that you loved finally!

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, I have loved a few, but do seem to have a love/hate relationship with the Booker list this year :-)

  16. Just got this one in the mail and can NOT wait to read it!

    1. Jackie says:

      That’s great news Michele!

  17. I gave in and bought it the other day and am looking forward to it (eventually!)

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I got my copy from the library, but I might have to buy a copy to lend to friends now :-)

  18. Dan Holloway says:

    I’ve heard so much about this that I think I have to read it. I’m alsoa lover of complex physics in literary fiction so I think you have most definitely hooked me in! Talking of science in fiction, I’m really intrigued to see what you make of C!

    1. Jackie says:

      Dan, It reminded me of Scarlett Thomas at some points. I do wonder if the addition of physics made me love it more than I otherwise would have done, but I think you’ll find a lot to enjoy in this one :-)

  19. Stephanie says:

    To answer your question, yes, you have convinced me to read it. I hadn’t heard of it before the longlist was released, and it was one of the few that caught my attention. I reserved it at my library but now I am considering purchasing it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, Yeah! Perhaps you should read the library copy before deciding to purchase it? Either way I hope that you enjoy it.

  20. Charlie says:

    Is it sad to say that I think I would enjoy 650 pages of an Irish boarding school? Depending on the era. I think it’s the books I grew up on, too much Enid Blyton.

    This does sound good, I like the blend of location and theme.

    1. Jackie says:

      Charlie, Not sad at all!! If 650 pages of Irish boarding school appeals to you then I’m sure you’ll love this one :-)

  21. Jenners says:

    Yes … you’ve persuaded me to try this book.

  22. Kathleen says:

    You have definitely persuaded me to read the book but then you always do!

    1. Jackie says:

      Kathleen, Thank you for the kind words :-)

  23. I have this TBR and must get round to it soon. I seem to be stuck in a theme of the England of a bygone era at the moment and a change of scenery to Ireland would do me a world of good!

    1. Jackie says:

      Teresa, I’m not sure that an Irish setting is much different from an English one, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one.

  24. Glad to hear you loved this! I’m going to add it to my September pile. I did hear one criticism of it – that the subject matter didn’t really seem ambitious or prize-worthy – but that’s not a criticism that holds any weight with me at all – way more interested in the writing and ideas and entertainment value.

    1. Jackie says:

      Lija, Much of the book was about life in a boarding school, but it also included a variety of other subjects. I think that the breadth of knowledge and the way it was handled are deserving of a prize. I actually think that Skippy Dies has one of the most ambitious subject matters on the Booker long list – m theory is one of the hardest concepts in the world!

  25. stacybuckeye says:

    This looks so interesting. Great reivew!

    1. Jackie says:

      Sorry for missing your comment. I hope you enjoy it if you decide to read it :-)

  26. I bought this book last week but couldn’t remember if it was a love or hate book in your opinion. Phew! I’m glad to see you liked iit 4.5. I expect to enjoy/like/love it a lot too now.

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, I think you’ll love it – I hope so anyway. Enjoy :-)


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