Sunday, November 21, 2010

More Fun With A Skeleton

The Faceless Ones, the third in the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy, makes a number of references to earlier Skulduggery Pleasant books. I've read both the first and second installments, and I liked them. But as I was reading the early parts of The Faceless Ones, I kept thinking, gee, I don't remember much from the other books.

It didn't matter. I moved on with the story with no problem.

This is a Skulduggery Pleasant book, so, basically, what it's about is Stephanie/Valkyrie and her skeletonized mentor, Skulduggery, saving the world from magical evil. What distinguishes it from a few thousand other books about a kid and a magical mentor saving the world from evil is the witty repartee. Many writers think they're writing witty repartee, but merely thinking it doesn't make it so. Landy is actually able to pull it off.

This time around there's a suggestion that Skulduggery may not be some kind of hero on a white horse (metaphorically speaking, since he drives a Bentley). Maybe it was in the other books, and I just don't recall. I don't recall as much of a cliffhanger ending in the other books, either, though there definitely is a serial thing going on.

The Faceless Ones brings up a couple of interesting questions about this kind of kids' magical thriller:

1. Several adult characters point out that Stephanie/Valkyrie, our protagonist, is only fourteen years old, and, really, should she be out fighting evil? What an excellent point. How many of these books hinge on a child saving a civilization even though the child is only, say, eleven and there are plenty of adults who ought to be shouldering the task? No one notices that? Where's the Department of Children and Youth Services in these stories?

I know, I know. Willing suspension of disbelief.

2. Aren't people with magical powers just a bit superior to people without them? When you are going "Oh, I must use my magical powers to save the world...again," aren't you implying that you are just better than all those people who can't save the world...again...because they don't have magical powers like yours? Didn't those wizards and their special train that took them to their special school that only they knew about because they were so special really get on your nerves after a while? Oops. Another series.

Yes, Landy was setting something up when he brought up the aren't-you-guys-a-little-full-of-yourselves thing, but, still, it's an interesting question.

Plot Project: This could very possibly be the kind of story in which the plot was developed around the main character wanting something--to stop the Faceless Ones--and then having stumbling blocks thrown in front of her over and over.

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