Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Derek Landy, Skulduggery Pleasant

My brother bought me this for my birthday a week or two ago, so I thought I'd have a go at reviewing it. I have to say that young adult fiction isn't always my thing, but has caught my attention a few times, so I was more than willing to give this a fair go.

The first thing to say is that my friend Scott probably won't like this book. He insists that the Harry Potter series shamelessly rips off fundamental elements of the Lord of the Rings, and is therefore not worth reading. Since Landy has a young heroine who discovers a magical world around her that she never knew existed, along with the fact that she has a potentially special place in it, right around the time that she starts having to fight against an ultimate evil that everyone had thought was defeated, it's fairly obvious where he got some of his inspiration.

Bizarrely though, I actually liked this more than a lot of Rowling's stuff. Stephanie Edgley is a far more likeable, far less petulant, character than Potter, while the writing has a tight, adventurous edge to it that's hard to fault. The basic adventure is quite simple, of course, but what exactly did I expect? It was fun, funny, and full of characters who held my interest, even if they did have silly names.

I think occasionally Landy's background in kenpo karate gets on top of him a little in the fight scenes, letting them descend into something a little too complicated and not spectacular enough, but that's a minor flaw. So is his mildly annoying habit of having almost all description at the start of a chapter, consistently leaving acres of unchecked speech towards the end. Neither issue spoils the flow of the book, or makes it any less of a fun read.

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