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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Meg lies, trespasses, breaks in, steals, and pursues revenge. Black humor.
Violence & Scariness
Belch shoots Meg, his dog attacks Lowrie, Meg's stepfather slaps her around, Meg and Belch fight, Meg punches her stepfather. The two main characters die in a fiery explosion.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens smoke and drink. An old man gets tipsy.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Colfer offers a view of the afterlife that may conflict with some religious beliefs; you might want to have a chat with your child about this topic.
Is It Any Good?
Eoin Colfer knows how to grab his readers: The first 10 pages contain a robbery, a pit bull attack, a shooting, and the death of the two main characters in a fiery explosion. And he knows how to hold them, with a combination of action, B-movie cliche, black humor, and gritty, muscular prose that hints at more violence than it actually reveals. It's no wonder he's the darling of the video-game generation. Reluctant readers and avid ones all enjoy his books, and with good reason.
Wicked is the key word here, in all its senses. It describes Colfer's humor, his no-kid-gloves approach to his readers, and, quite literally, the plot. He manages here a view of the afterlife that is cynically funny without being out-and-out blasphemous (and least to this reviewer) and makes a weird kind of sense to boot. While this book lacks anyone quite as funny as Foaly in the Artemis Fowl books, it makes up for it with a bit more heart -- nothing soppy, of course, this is a Eoin Colfer book after all, but just the hint of a warm glow in the testy developing relationship between a crusty old never-was and a hardened little never-will-be. Colfer may talk tough and mean to thrill his audience, but it's just possible he has a heart of mush.
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