Monday, July 13, 2009

Review - Skellig by David Almond

Skellig by David Almond

published 9/00
208 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

Ten-year-old Michael was looking forward to moving into a new house. But now his baby sister is ill, his parents are frantic, and Doctor Death has come to call. Michael feels helpless. Then he steps into the crumbling garage. . . . What is this thing beneath the spiderwebs and dead flies? A human being, or a strange kind of beast never before seen? The only person Michael can confide in is his new friend, Mina. Together they carry the creature out into the light, and Michael’s world changes forever. . . .

My thoughts:

This was a lovely little book. Almond captured the innocence and wonder of Michael and Mina beautifully, as they discovered their friendship with each other, and the strange and beautiful Skellig. Michael's uncertainty about his sister, his belief that he could do something to help her, his feelings of helplessness in the face of his parents' worry - all wonderfully expressed.

I think what I liked most about the novel is that Almond didn't answer every question he posed - most specifically, what is Skellig? I think sometimes books give us too much - they answer questions we didn't even know we had, and the mystery and wonder is just a bit lost. In this novel, we never really learn everything - we are left to ponder, with Michael and Mina, just what this amazing creature is, where it came from, and what it's purpose really was.

"The garage creaked. Dust fell. His breathing was hoarse, uneven. His body shuddered. He whimpered with pain. At the door he closed his eyes, turned his head away from the intensifying light. Then he turned again and faced the daylight. Through narrowed veiny eyes he looked out through the door. Mina and I gazed at his face, so pale and plaster dry. His skin was cracked and crazed. His black hair was a tangle of knots. Dust, cobwebs, bluebottles, spiders, beetles clung to him and fell from him. We saw for the first time that he wasn't old. He seemed like a young man. Mina whispered it: 'You're beautiful!' "

I highly recommend this book. I found it to be a refreshing change from the glut of vampire-werewolf-fairy-etc. YA novels currently available, yet with just enough of a supernatural touch to feel otherworldly and mysterious. I loved it, and will be finding a copy to keep in my permanent collection.

Finished: 6/14/09
Source: Franklin Avenue library
Rating: 9/10

Don't just take my word for it! Here's what some other fabulous bloggers had to say:

Things mean a lot
Valentina's Room

Challenges this counts toward:


bermudaonion said...

A book that makes you think and use your imagination sounds fantastic!

Andi said...

I'm so glad you loved this one as much as I did. I loved its subtlety and nuance, and like you said: the fact that it doesn't answer all the questions it poses. This facet of it drives my students NUTS sometimes, but they also tend to really like the intertextual references to William Blake and the whole home schooling vs. public schooling debate (I teach this one to education majors primarily).

Anonymous said...

I read this book with my bookclub back in 2002, and I still remember how impressed I was by it.

Time to get it out for my daughter-- but first, I should reread it myself.

Zibilee said...

I've read so many good reviews of this book lately, and now I really want to pick up a copy and read it for myself. I especially like that everything is not totally spelled out for the reader. Sometimes it is more fun to rely on your own imagination and interpretations when reading something like this. Great review!

Nymeth said...

Thanks for the link, Elizabeth! I'm glad to hear you loved it too. Like you, I was glad that he wasn't afraid to leave some questions for readers to answer.