The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil GaimanThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Published by HarperCollins on September 30th 2008
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Death & Dying, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Friendship
Pages: 312
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After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.
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 of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family…
Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

“It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”

The Graveyard Book is a story about an infant whose entire family was murdered, and who wanders into a graveyard where he is raised and cared for by ghosts. The ghosts name him “Nobody Owens”, also known as Bod. Bod isn’t allowed to leave the graveyard because his guardians fear for his safety, and so, the ghosts of the graveyard become his tutors and educators as well as his family. The story follows Bod as he grows into a young man and eventually has to decide how to deal with his past and the man who started it all.
The Graveyard Book is the kind of novel that I can’t imagine anyone hating or even actively disliking. It is, in many ways, the perfect children’s book. Although it deals with some darker topics such as death and loss, it still remains a fun and relatively light-hearted read. A book you could easily give to your children but can still very much be enjoyed by adults.
And indeed, I enjoyed The Graveyard Book. It was unique and whimsical, filled with quirky characters and Gaiman’s beautiful writing style. A short read that is both occasionally funny and moving. The novel is set in a graveyard and yet, Neil Gaiman somehow manages to make the setting vibrant and full of life, not morbid at all.

“You’re alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you’re dead, it’s gone. Over. You’ve made what you’ve made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.”

Despite all these clear positives, I felt like something was missing. I wanted something more from the story, from the characters. I liked Bod, he was a lovable little kid, however, I didn’t feel anything more for him. I couldn’t relate or empathize with him and I didn’t find him to be particularly interesting. I actually felt the same about the other characters: Likable certainly, but I just lacked a certain engagement.
I had the exact same issue with the plot. Relatively original, quite intriguing at times but it lacked suspense. I was never at the edge of my seat, never worried about the characters; there wasn’t anything that really pulled me along and made me want to pick up the book.
Without a doubt, Neil Gaiman is a very gifted storyteller. His prose is phenomenal and the way he writes makes the story appropriate for a younger audience without ever being dumbed down. Gaiman never sacrifices meaning and themes.
If you are a fan Gaiman’s works then I recommend you pick this one up. If you haven’t yet read a Neil Gaiman book then this one might be a good place to start. As for me, the prose alone compels me to pick up his books in the future.

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