Friday, April 24, 2009

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

"The Graveyard Book"


Neil Gaiman

Front Flap: "Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy--an ancient Indigo Man beneath the hill, a gateway to a desert leading to an abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible menace of the sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack--who has already killed bod's family...."

"The Graveyard Book" is the first book I've read by Neil Gaiman. I enjoyed it, even though it was weird and quirky. The story begins with a man named Jack walking through a home, killing first the parents, then bod's brother. Bod, even though a toddler, somehow manages to climb out of his crib and wander out the open door, while Jack kills his family. The killings are not graphically depicted but implied. The writing is very well done and paints a picture

"The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately.

The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet.

The street door was still open, just a little, where the knife and man who held it had slipped in, and wisps of nighttime mist slithered and twined into the house through the open door." (pg 5 - 7)

Bod wanders up and into a graveyard where the ghosts and other denizens of the place decide to protect him. Of course, they have to put it to a vote first.

"A graveyard is not normally a democracy, and yet death is the great democracy, and each of the dead had a voice, and an opinion as to whether the living child should be allowed to stay, and they were each determined to be heard that night." pg 29

Bod is raised by the ghosts and Silas, who neither dead or alive, protects him and makes sure his physical needs for food and dress are taken care of. Bod gets an interesting education in history and thought from various ghosts from the different eras as well as lessons in slipping through shadow and fading from awareness, "the ways of the dead".

"Bod tried again. He closed his eyes and imagined himself fading into the stained stonework of the mausoleum wall, becoming a shadow on the night and nothing more. He sneezed.

"Dreadful", said Mr. Pennyworth, with a sigh. "Quite dreadful. I believe I shall have a word with your guardian about this." He shook his head. "So, the humors. List them."

"Um, Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic, And the other one. Um, Melancholic, I think."

"And so it went, until it was time for Grammar and Composition with Miss Letitia Borrows, Spinster of this Parish (Who did No Harm to No Man all the Dais of Her Life. Reader, Can you Say Lykewise?) Bod liked Miss Borrows, and the coziness of her little crypt, and that she could all-too-easily be led off the subject." pg 106

Throughout the story, Jack never ceases to look for Bod and finish the job he started. The villains (the Jacks of all Trades) reasons in the story for killing bod's family and him are a bit vague and I'll leave the mystery of what happened to your imaginations.

I thoroughly enjoyed "The Graveyard Book" and look forward to reading more stories by Neil Gaiman. His books are intriguing, imaginative and entertaining. Even though they are written for the 9 - 12 year old age group, they are enjoyable for adults to read as well. Highly Recommended.

Pages: 320 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Other thoughts about the book:

Michelle of 1morechapter:
The Graveyard Book contains a colorful (though some are long dead) cast of characters, some very creepy scenes, and some genuinely heartwarming ones."

Em of Em's Bookshelf:
"The Graveyard Book is pure delight from start to finish. This is the first book that I've read by Gaiman and, after the first couple of pages, I knew that I was in the hands of a master storyteller."

Rob of Robaroundbooks:
"It entertained me completely and as a reader who normally gets his kicks from the more dense prose of writers such as Steinbeck, Dostoevsky and Hamsun etc. that’s a big achievement. Bearing that in mind I’m confident that The Graveyard Book will entertain just about anyone."

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