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Playing with Fire (Skulduggery Pleasant Series #2)

Playing with Fire (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 2) - Derek Landy
Read from June 28 to 30, 2013

Word count: about 64 000
Rating: I’ll finish you like a cheesecake baguette

First and foremost this book still cracks me up quite a lot.

“Knock yourself out.”
“No, really, run headfirst into the wall and knock yourself out, because I’m telling you, you better be unconscious when Sulduggery gets here.”

“so, you married, or anything? Do I hear the pitter-patter of tiny evil feet?"

“He’s always irritable.”
“Obviously, he’s decided to take it to new heights.”

“I’m gonna kill you,” Brobding the giant said in a rumbling bass line of a voice. “Want you to know it’s nothing personal.”
“That’s good to hear,” Skulduggery told him. “In which case, I’m going to knock you down and hit you with the pool table, and I want you to know it’s nothing personal either.”

The plot/action picks up some time after The Scepter of the Ancients finished.

Generally it is the same scenario played all over again (mind you, the same thing could be said about Harry Potter) but the devil is in the details. Our female protagonist is 13 now and trains intensely to become a better Elemental. She’s permanently taken a position of Skulduggery’s apprentice and works cases with him. It is nice to see her develop. In the first volume we had a pretty helpless girl. She was there, but didn’t bring much to the table, which was appropriate. Now, she has some skills and becomes more involved. I appreciate that. It’s interesting to see her change.

I must admit that rating books in this series is quite a challenge. On one hand I’m happy with them, but at no point was I so excited I would refuse to put it down. Normally, you want to take a book away from me? You’ll have to pry it from my dead cold fingers. This one? I wouldn’t mid putting down. It’s a curious emotional state I’m in right now. There is nothing horribly wrong with those books, and yet they fail in a way.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot and came up with plausible answers.

a) These are children’s books, I’m not a child (but I have to admit, that the amount of violence is quite high, and luckily so. When I was young younger I hated books dedicated to my age group. I’ve read LOTR for the first time when I was 10, so… These books are good in that aspect. They fight to save the world and have to KILL people in the process.)

b) They’re too short. There really isn’t enough time for me to connect with the story. That is just an observation. We go over the events instead of diving in and rolling around in it for a while.

c) I was really happy with the first instalment. The world
building was interesting and consistent. The introduction to the world of magic went smoothly, but in the second part we learn almost NOTHING new. I’m disappointed. I hoped it would continue the grand work.

d) Too much action, not enough dialogues, character building, scenes of domestic nature that would make it all grounded. It’s just a non-stop action packed race to the finish line.

I like seeing Stephanie grow up, but there is very little to connect her to the flow of time in her world. All of that is just suspended in a time vacuum, since we don’t hear anything about school or holidays. Remember Harry Potter? THAT was splendid. Here we see a small chunk of a year with not enough info to really set it in the big scheme of things.

Did I enjoy it? Yes, but in a way it disappointed me. I expected more. More of a world development, more of character development, more of a plot development. DEVELOPMENT being a key word. It was a short adventure (just like the last one) minus the novelty of it.