At the beginning of the book, yes, I fear I give nothing away to note that Skippy does indeed die. After (or before) this the book deals primarily with the lives and hopes of the students and teachers of am upper-class day school in Dublin, Ireland. It does so with a great deal of humor, much of it black, and with strong elements of magical realism along the way. If you've read Thomas Pynchon you'll see the influence without the pretense in Murray's writing very strongly. The author says that Pynchon is an influence, and that Gravity's Rainbow is one of his favorite books, and it shows, but with humanity and humor, something some find lacking in Pynchon, although of course they're trying to do very different things.I really quite liked this book. It plays with your expectations in a good way, never manipulating, never really pandering. Well written, I find no complaints with it's technique. In fact, it's done well enough I can't think of anything to really complain about, nor give adequate explanation as to why it didn't get 5 stars, other than a vague feeling that something was missing, some essential spark, not in the execution of the plot, but perhaps in the plot itself. I suppose I just find myself wondering what exactly the author was trying to convey, and whether the book took twists even he didn't quite control. That complain aside, you'll note I have given it 4 stars, think quite highly of it, the talents of the author, and highly recommend it to you. I fully expect this author capable of writing future novels of towering achievement...and that's not something I say every day.