Book: Skulduggery Pleasant (#1) – Author: Derek Landy
Genre: Fiction, Adventure, Fantasy, Young Adult
Description from Goodreads:
Meet Skulduggery Pleasant. Sure, he may lose his head now and again (in fact, he won his current skull in a poker match), but he is much more than he appears to be—which is good, considering that he is, basically, a skeleton. Skulduggery may be long dead, but he is also a mage who dodged the grave so that he could save the world from an ancient evil. But to defeat it, he’ll need the help of a new partner: a not so innocent twelve-year-old girl named Stephanie. That’s right, they’re the heroes.
Stephanie and Skulduggery are quickly caught up in a battle to stop evil forces from acquiring her recently deceased uncle’s most prized possession—the Sceptre of the Ancients. The Ancients were the good guys, an extinct race of uber-magicians from the early days of the earth, and the scepter is their most dangerous weapon, one capable of killing anyone and destroying anything. Back in the day, they used it to banish the bad guys, the evil Faceless Ones. Unfortunately, in the way of bad guys everywhere, the Faceless Ones are staging a comeback and no one besides our two heroes believes in the Faceless Ones, or even that the Sceptre is real.
So Stephanie and Skulduggery set off to find the Sceptre, fend off the minions of the bad guys, beat down vampires and the undead, prove the existence of the Ancients and the Faceless Ones, all while trading snappy, snippy banter worthy of the best screwball comedies.
This was a fun one! It was a pretty quick but interesting read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I thought it might end up a little strange, having a 12 year old partner up with an adult, but Stephanie & Skulduggery actually play really well off each other. Stephanie can hold her own against the bad guys pretty decently for a newbie and can match Skulduggery one-for-one in the wit & cleverness department. It WAS a little weird that all the adults almost automatically took to having a 12 year old as part of their group, but considering the target audience for the book, I can see why the author just kind of let that one go instead of trying to explain it too much. Plus, like I said earlier, Stephanie can really hold her own.
The adventure was really interesting too. It had me on the edge of my seat quite a few times, wondering if our heroes would make it out of this one. The book jumped to conclusions a tiny bit quickly on occasion, but not too bad for a young person novel. And the author also held back some surprises for the reader that I didn’t see coming, which was nice.
I will admit that there were a lot of characters kind of thrown at the reader in the first half of the book, but considering Stephanie was just being introduced to this magical word, that makes sense. Ever start a new job or go to a new school? You meet a ZILLION people the first day and can’t keep track of ANY of them…but just like real life, the book quickly fleshes out the important characters and keeps re-introducing them so you can get them fixed in your mind.
Now, if you’ve heard of these books before, you’re probably wondering why I would list a children’s book as Young Adult. Let me explain. The writing in this novel was really well done, not too dumbed down, but that’s not really a factor for naming something YA; in fact, I love it when authors realize that children don’t need to be spoken down to. No, it was really the violence that caused my rating to go up. Yes, children can handle the death of characters (Harry Potter anyone?), but this was a little too much for a kid, in my opinion. If you have an advanced reader that can handle really decently scary situations and descriptions of death, then go for it, but for the average 10 year old? Maybe a bit TOO scary at times.
Overall, though, this was a GREAT book! I enjoyed it so much that I plan to pick up the next in the series on my next library run. 🙂 I highly recommend it for people who enjoy adventurous/magical/humorous novels…which, who of us doesn’t, right? 😉
In feel, if not in content…
The True Meaning of Smekday (Adam Rex)
The Book of Storms (Ruth Hatfield)