Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Graveyard Book

In The Graveyard Book, wordsmith Neil Gaiman explores the trials and tribulations of Nobody Owens, a boy raised in a graveyard. So it's a classic coming-of-age tale... in a graveyard. With a title like The Graveyard Book, this book has the potential to be macabre and disturbing, but is instead uplifting and encouraging, engaging the reader and cultivating a strong, heroic character toward his eventual adulthood.

Late one night, a man named Jack murders an entire family - save one. The entire family was to have perished that night, but a small child wanders out of the house on his own and toddles into the nearby graveyard. The ghostly residents soon realize that the child must be protected, and conceal him from Jack.

Over the years, "Bod" learns from the multi-generational and historical graveyard denizens. His closest teacher and confidant is Silas, a mysterious being who seems just a little different from the rest of the ghosts. Silas is appointed as Bod's guardian, and sees that Bod always has food to eat, clothes to wear, and books to read. But mostly, Silas is to keep Bod safe, for it is clear that the man, Jack, will be returning someday.

This was my first foray into Neil Gaiman territory, and I'm very glad that I finally took the chance. I love his writing and his imagination, and the story was hypnotic. Because it is a Young Adult book, the storyline and its parallels were a little obvious (The Jungle Book), but the twists and turns were not.

It's a quick and enjoyable read, and while I found the ending to be a little bittersweet, it nicely brings Bod out of adolescence and into the rest of his life.


gabe said...

I think Neil Gaiman is very okay, and this book was also very okay. I guess I'm a little surprised at how much Gaiman stuff I've consumed over the years, but I guess that's what happens when he's one of the bigger names in comic books. His stuff that I really liked were Death: The High Cost of Living and Stardust, both of which were pretty short and fun.

Heather said...

gabe - I know exactly what you mean. I have read quite a few of his books since this one, and there are definitely some that stand out. I thought that Good Omens was fantastic, as was Stardust and Neverwhere, but others fell a little short. It's not that I didn't enjoy them -- I don't know what it is...