The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The graveyard book tells the story of Nobody Owens (called Bod), who escapes to a graveyard as a toddler after his family is murdered. Bod is given the freedom of the graveyard, allowing him to pass freely through the graveyard and learn the ways of the ghost inhabitants who are helping to raise him. This graveyard family teaches Bod how to see at night, to Haunt, Fade and Dreamwalk; they protect him from the outside world, and from the man who killed his family and would like to finish the job. But they cannot protect him forever, and Bod knows that one day he will have to confront the world and the dangers in it, embracing his destiny for good or bad.
I was really excited to read this book, and even though I was in the middle of another, I found myself repeatedly picking The Graveyard Book up and opening to the brilliant first page. I finally caved in and set my other book aside so I could read this, and at first I was entirely disappointed and didn’t think I was going to like the book at all. I found Bod’s toddler years to be only tolerable. There was occasional cuteness, but nothing to hook me and make me want to keep reading (aside from the fantastic Gorey-esque illustrations).
That all changed when Bod went to Ghûlheim; from then on I was absolutely hooked. The writing is clever and has a certain brightness mingled with the dark of the story. The book is sprinkled with interesting characters (with amusing epitaphs). The worlds Gaiman created are vivid and intriguing, with interesting and original takes on familiar mythology. Bod’s journey is relatable, even in all of its surrealness, and the overall message is incorporated well without being didactic. This is the sort of story I know I would have become completely lost in and obsessed with as a child.
A warning to parents that there are some dark themes and scary elements, but overall I would recommend this to any child/young teen, especially those who like fantasy and darker elements. This would also make a fun read-aloud for parents and children, or a classroom, and the illustrations add to the story immensely. I would rate this closer to a 4.5.
View all my reviews >>
I have two pretty awesome things for ya off the bat:
This awesome trailer for the book, narrated be Neil:
And this interview about the book with Wired:
And then some standard bonus material fare:
I had a talk with Gaiman (that makes me sound so special; I should say my Goodreads group had a talk with Gaiman, where he took our questions and was awesome, and I razzed him for mentioning floppy disks), and I asked him if he often got negative responses from parents on the themes in his work. You'll notice I mentioned that in my review as a head's up, and I asked him because I had a neighbor growing up who insisted my mom not let me read such scary things, because I was sure to grow up morbid; frankly, I think it's ridiculous. I think Neil did, too. His response:
"I think the parents who would disapprove of their offspring reading my books are not the kind of people who talk to authors."
Right on, Neil.
I bought my copy before the awards rained down, but TGB won a Newbery, Hugo and Locus (best YA) award, as well as being shortlisted for the World Fantasy and Locus (best sci fi) awards. Pretty snazzy.
Go here for some utter awesomeness: tour readings, weekly excerpts of the Q&A sessions, all courtesy of Mr. Bobo's Remarkable Mouse Circus (Gaiman's site for young readers) ; there is a ton of stuff from all his juv/ya books, including wallpapers, book trailers, podcasts, general greatness. It just gets better and better, so stop back every now and again.
Visits The Graveyard Book's site to see the fabulous illustrations and read up on the book and its awesomeness. Once upon a time, there was even a link to linited edition signed copies, but alas, they are no more.
(10 points to the first one who can tell me where Mr. Bobo's Remarkable Mouse Circus comes from...said points may be completely nonsense (though you can brag about them), or they may just come in handy later on...)