It’s been a struggle getting my son to read fiction. He’s more an HTML In Easy Steps kinda kid… which is scary when he’s only 11, but I guess it’s essential reading considering he’s designed and built his own website! And before he got involved with reading computer manuals, he was definitely into non-fiction. Give him a Horrible Histories, or some other kind of gross facts book and he was like a pig in wallow.
I did have some limited success with getting him to read fiction, namely Holes by Louis Sachar, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. But once he finished reading those books, even though he loved them both, he went back to his computer manuals and lost interest in fiction again. Which made it a real chore whenever mad-keen-reader daughter and her mom (me!) wanted to cruise a bookstore and hang out. I admit I always felt terribly guilty seeing him walk out empty-handed, while we staggered under a stack of new reading material. And it wasn’t for want of trying, believe me. But how can you insist after you get a polite, “No thanks, Mom. I’m not really interested in reading that.”
But I seem to have finally hit the jackpot with a fiction series by the talented Derek Landy. I bought the first book Skulduggery Pleasant just on the offchance my son might be bored enough one day to pick it up. He was. And to my delight, he perservered and finished the book. He’s a slowish reader — mind you, anyone is slow compared with his sister, who just devoured A Fistful of Sky by Nina Kiriki Hoffman in just one day — and I think he gets put off by “big” books. And Skulduggery Pleasant is no walk in the park, it’s 370 pages, so for him to finish it was fan-freaking-tastic!
Even better, he actually begged me to buy the next 2 books in the series, and he’s already finished Playing With Fire and has started on The Faceless Ones.
So what’s the appeal?
Well, I enticed him to read the book by first getting him to read the author intro — the best damned author intro for a kids’ book that I’ve ever read:
“Before writing his children’s story about a sharply-dressed skeleton detective, DEREK LANDY wrote the screenplays for a zombie movie and a murderous thriller in which everybody dies.
As a black belt in Kenpo Karate, he has taught countless children how to defend themselves, in the hopes of building his own private munchkin army. He firmly believes that they await his call to strike against his enemies (he doesn’t actually have any enemies, but he’s assuming they’ll show up, sooner or later).
Derek lives on the outskirts of Dublin, and the reason he writes his own biography blurb is so that he can finally refer to himself in the third person without looking pompous or insane.”
When he actually laughed, I knew we were in with a chance.
And just to really get him hooked, there’s this great back-cover blurb as well:
“With his sunglasses gone there was no denying the fact that he had no face. All he had was a skull for a head.” Meet Skulduggery Pleasant: wise-cracking detective, powerful magician, sworn enemy of evil. Oh yes. And dead.
As you can see from the cover, Skulduggery’s not typical hero material — another point in his favor.
And I love the teaser on the front cover, too: AND HE’S THE GOOD GUY.
Brilliant marketing — it had to be, for my son to actually be tempted to read it! And lucky for me, by all reports a brilliant book, too.
I’m about 75 pages in and loving it so far. Not often I have to wait in line behind son and then daughter before I get to read something!
Here’s the rest of my reading list for September:
- Wolf Tales VII by Kate Douglas
- The Billionaire’s Captive Bride by Emma Darcy
- Salzano’s Captive Bride by Daphne Clare
- Blackmailed Into The Italian’s Bed by Miranda Lee
- Claiming The Courtesan by Anna Campbell
- The Blue Viking by Sandra Hill
- My Soul To Lose by Rachel Vincent
- The Greek’s Virgin by Trish Morey
- To Beguile A Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt**
- Devlin and the Deep Blue Sea by Merline Lovelace
- The Perfect Rake by Anne Gracie
- Compromised by Nathalie Grey
- Sins of a Wicked Duke by Sophie Jordan**
- Chosen by P.C. and Kristin Cast
- Highland Scandal by Julia London**
- Mine To Possess by Nalini Singh
- Bodyguard Father by Alice Sharpe
- Christmas Delivery by Patricia Rosemoor
- A Husband’s Wicked Ways by Jane Feather**
- He Loves Lucy by Susan Donovan
- Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
**ARC: Advanced Reader Copy