Posts tagged ‘Graveyard Book’

April 22, 2013

Musing on review of The Graveyard Book

Adult cover for The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman

Book Review: The Graveyard Book

Author: Neil Gaiman

Illustrator: Dave McKean and Chris Riddell

Publisher: HarperCollins

Dates: 2008

Pages: 336/ 7 CDs

Format: Book, Audiobook, E-version

This was the second time that I started The Graveyard Book. The first time was in 2009, when it was a hot topic and before Disney had bought the movie options. I didn’t finish it even though I found Gaiman’s style of writing and characters fascinating. The story wasn’t what I was looking for at the time, so I kept it in the back of my mind as something to come back to. I was thrilled when on a recent trip to the library I found a copy of the Audiobook. I have way too many books to read and never enough time, so when I can avail myself of the Audiobook I do. Once I had it back at my desk I let Gaiman’s reading of the story take me away. I might have even been more productive.

The protagonist is Nobody Owens or Bod. Nobody because “He looks like nobody except himself” and Owens after the ghost couple that agrees to take him in. There is the graveyard’s mysterious guardian, Silas, who serves as mentor, friend, and disciplinarian for the young Bod. There is Scarlett, Bod’s one and only true human friend. Their friendship begins one afternoon when the young Scarlett visits the graveyard with her parents. The friendship comes to an abrupt end when an afternoon adventure leads to a Child Alert for Scarlett. Fearful of Scarlett’s imaginary friend, Bod, the family moves away to Ireland. Scarlett returns years later when the two are about 14 years-old.  The antagonist is Jack, the member of a secret society The Jacks of All Trades.  Their mission is to kill Bod before he can destroy them.  Rounding out this cast is a loveable family of ghosts, goblins, and ghouls that teach Bod about history, friendship, fading, dream walking, and ghosting.

One dark night a man slips into a family’s home and kills them one by one, when he reaches the toddlers room the child is gone, and so begins our story. This story has a great opening, if not a bit a gruesome. Our young hero, Nobody escapes death by sheer chance and is granted protection by the ghosts of the graveyard. This protection has one really cool benefit of giving Bod the ability to walk the line between the living and the dead.  As the young Bod grows up, he experiences many of the same trials and tribulations that normal children do, such as bullies at school and testing parental and personal boundaries; but unlike normal children, the young Bod has the protection of the graveyard. When Scarlett reappears, they become fast friends again and with her help Bod is able to research his past and come face to face with the secret society The Jack of All Trades.

I never would have thought about a children’s book in the graveyard, so more the fool is me because this book rocked. Children’s stories are a mix of simplicity and complexity, which I often compare to early Chinese scroll paintings for their effect on me emotionally. When I finished this book, I was sad and excited for the Young Bod as he left the graveyard and ventured out in the world. Gaiman’s depiction of Bod’s coming of age by losing his ability to roam in the graveyard, reminded me of growing up and losing the belief in the unseen. When Bod left the graveyard, I was reminded of my own leaving home and how bright and exciting the world seemed.   I highly recommend this book for adults, who have lived, and children, who have yet to live.