4.5, rounded up, though I'd have liked an emotionally crisper ending. In the many reviews I've read, there's not a lot of mention of the novel's structure, which is obvious at times but doesn't feel too lock-step because Murray uses humor to make parallelism entertaining rather than mechanical. The characters are believable, the emotional content becomes increasingly nuanced, and there's a great deal that's funny and dramatic without a lot of pathos. I was friends with people like many of these boys, though most of them didn't die at the time. When I consider this novel in relation to the criticism Rowling received for sex, drugs, teen angst, obscenity, and small-sphere politics in [b:The Casual Vacancy|13497818|The Casual Vacancy|J.K. Rowling|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1358266832s/13497818.jpg|19926990], I'm more convinced than ever that the criticism was about that book not being Harry Potter. Skippy Dies is like blending The Casual Vacancy with a handful of rock and roll, a copy of Hustler, and just a pinch of [b:Lord of the Flies|7624|Lord of the Flies|William Golding|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327869409s/7624.jpg|2766512]. Characters from this book and Rowling's would easily understand the structure and rules of each others' communities. The audiobook was a delight, with clear reading by multiple narrators.