The extravagantly entertaining Skippy Dies chronicles a single catastrophic autumn at Seabrook from a good 20 different perspectives: students, teachers, administrators, priests, girlfriends, doughnut shop managers. At the center of it all is Daniel Juster, known as Skippy, whose death — on the floor of Ed’s Doughnut House, just after writing his beloved’s name on the floor in raspberry filling — opens the novel … The ambitious length of Skippy Dies allows Murray to take on any number of fascinating themes. One of the great pleasures of this novel is how confidently he addresses such disparate topics as quantum physics, video games, early-20th-century mysticism, celebrity infatuation, drug dealing, Irish folklore and pornography … Murray confidently brings these strands together, knitting them into an energetic plot that concerns Skippy’s death — and his roommates’ attempts to contact him afterward — but also expands into an elegy for lost youth.
Skippy Dies is a deeply funny book. Murray's sense of humor is gleefully absurd, but indisputably intelligent; there's not a single cheap laugh in these pages. And while he mines a good deal of hilarious material from Skippy's infatuation and Ruprecht's social obliviousness, Murray is at his funniest when his teeth are bared … Reading Skippy Dies is a lot like reading a Saki story as interpreted by Neil Jordan (who is scheduled to write and direct the film adaptation of this novel) — which is to say, it's deeply funny, deeply weird and unlike anything you've ever encountered before.
Set in Ireland at the Seabrook Catholic School for Boys, the book features a cast of fourteen-year-olds who have populated classrooms for centuries. And yet as rendered by Murray's skillful, compassionate prose, each of these characters emerges as an actual boy—sympathetic at times, contemptible at others, funny, terrifying, loving, and real to the reader … Interestingly enough, the antics of other characters often overshadow Skippy all together, which perhaps is the point of the book—that unremarkable children are overshadowed by the smartest or dumbest or funniest or meanest or ugliest or most handsome, sometimes even overshadowed out of existence. Skippy Dies is 600 pages, and the supposedly driving question of the first 400 pages seems to be: Who killed Skippy?