Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

First published in 2008.

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 of the dead.

There are dang
ers 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 . . .
(book flap blurb)

What an amazing book. No wonder it won the Newbery Award. It was completely deserving. And it only took Gaiman 20 years to write! Now my spending a year on my own manuscript doesn't make me feel so guilty.

I tend to not make connections from one book to another all that easily and it wasn't until Gaiman mentioned the Jungle Book reference that it all clicked for me. Of course! Same concept, different landscape. Granted it's been quite a while since I've read Kipling, I still remember enough to draw the post-parallels.

Bod is such a magical character, and this is above and beyond the Freedom of the Graveyard that he has. There was something special about him right from the very beginning. There was something calling to him to get him out of harm's way and into the safety of, of all places, a graveyard. The man Jack never stood a chance.

And how I loved the Jacks of All Trade! How awesome of a group. I really wish the book went into a little more detail about just what they were because, really, the little worm on a hook we got about them so wasn't enough for me. I wanted more! And I just might get it in Gaiman's supposed sequel!

The book is written in such a simplistic way that it would be simple for a child of really any age to understand but the older you are, the greater you're capable of understanding all of the underlying elements it holds. This book is literally something for people of all ages to read. There's nothing in here that someone 10 or 30 wouldn't like.

All of the characters are living and breathing as soon as they come onto the page. Maybe it's the bias that I have towards Gaiman because I love most of his work so much, but I honestly think the man could create an infinitely dynamic character from a couple of words, he's that good. But everyone from Bod to Scarlett to Silas (how awesome Silas was!) to the Owenses and Liza and the Jacks, even the Sleer had a rich depth about them that only magnificent storytelling could weave.

What pulled at me the most was the relationship between Scarlett and Bod. I found myself in Bod's shoes asking why? towards the end because there were other ways, there could have been other ways but Silas knew what he was doing. And that pain of Bod being without another living person to exist around really permeated the pages. Of course he loved where he was and he loved his ghost family, but at the end of the day Bod was human and as a human he required like companionship.

The ending opened up all sorts of possibilities for Bod but even then it was a sad send-off for him. I didn't want him to leave the people that have cared for him all those years. And he was so young! But all times must come and it was Bod's turn to play that fiddle. It didn't keep the tears from prickling my eyes, though, that much I can tell you.

The writing is, without a doubt, fantastic. The characters are as real as if they were breathing at your neck and every emotion Bod feels, every sense of fear or pain or sadness or happiness, pulls at your heart just like it does to him. You'll look up to the parental figures of the graveyard, you'll sneer at the foes and you'll love the life just like Bod does. So be sure to read this book because this is one you certainly don't want to miss.

8 comments:

Sonja said...

Yay! I'm so glad you liked this book. I had to gobble it all up when my mom was here for less than a week but I want to read it again.

I loved the Jack of all Trades, and I loved the Werewolf as a Hound of God -- a myth I'd never heard before Gaiman.

And possible sequel? So there!

Zia said...

This book holds a special place for me. It is the book that led me to discover Neil Gaiman. I have since devoured almost every one of his books. He has become one of my favorite authors.

choco (In Which a Girl Reads) said...

I loved this book too! And I still can't believe it took him 20 years to write. Amazing :)

Insert Book Title said...

I really need to pick this one up. I have heard such good things about it.

Rhiannon Hart said...

Oh really? The Jungle Book? I'm doubly intrigued now!

prophecygirl said...

I have this, but haven't read it yet. It sounds ace! :D

Rabid Fox said...

I think this book has got to be the next of Neil Gaiman's works that I read. Every review I read makes it sound irresistable.

Donna said...

This is definitely a READ RIGHT NAO!

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