Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

genre: middle grade

A tragedy leads to the eighteen-month-old Bod Owens being raised in a graveyard.  Yes.  Raised by ghosts, the spirits of those who were buried in the tombs and under the earth of that fenced sanctuary.  In this space, Bod is safe from those who would harm him - and so, for years, he stays.  He learns and grows, taught by the ancient (and not so ancient) souls that were interred in his graveyard.  Occasionally "alive" people stumble their way into his life, but generally his experience is with the dead, (and the more ghoulishly and frightening creatures of the underworld).  What the dead have to teach him, and what he finds out for himself, will prove to be priceless as he grows older and realizes just how much the world has in store for him - both the good and the terrifying.

Having never read any Neil Gaiman before, I had absolutely no idea of what to expect from this book.  What I had heard about it when it won the Newbery didn't sound appealing to me, so  I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I really, really liked it.   I kept thinking to myself, as the plot was laid out, "what a great idea for a story."  I just liked the novelty of Bod's situation - my disbelief suspended itself without any effort at all and I enjoyed the ride of his experiences.  It was clever, moved quickly, make me chuckle more than once, and ended well (my favorite kind of ending where all the random stuff throughout the book is wrapped up in a tricky way).  Bod is a sympathetic character, with a great arc of growth and coming-into-his-own. 

So, yeah.  I really liked it.  Enough to try more Gaiman.  Other suggestions?

note: if you're interested in the content of the books I read, please go to


Melissa said...

Coraline, if you want to be scared. Stardust is a lovely fairy tale, and I really really liked Neverwhere. American Gods is wild and weird (and the first 50 pages are really, really vulgar). I've been meaning to try his book with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens. And that's all the Gaiman I've read. (Aside from his picture books.)

bermudaonion said...

I've had this for a while and keep meaning to read it. It sounds like I need to quit procrastinating!

Okie said...

Great review.

I read and really enjoyed Graveyard Book. I also had a lot of fun with Coraline (which was, as is often the case, better than the movie...but the movie was still fun).

I tried to jump up to his "adult" fiction with American Gods and I have to agree with is very vulgar. So much so that I put it down and didn't finish it.

I hear great things about Stardust and plan to get to it soon.

Melissa Mc (Gerbera Daisy Diaries) said...

Not sure I would have EVER picked this book to read...but now I may have to.

Marg said...

This is my favourite Gaiman book, although I did like Stardust too. How about trying one of his short story collections?

Greg Schouler said...

Previous to this I've read Coraline, Stardust, and American Gods, each seeming to target a different reader age group. The Graveyard Book probably targets readers somewhere between Coraline and Stardust, but as a 25 year old, I enjoyed this novel more than the previous three, and I loved those to begin with. It combines the darkness of Coraline with the magic of Stardust and the delightful contemporization of mythological lore in the style of American Gods. Highly recommended.

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