Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Pages: 312 (hardcover edition)
Published: 2008 by HarperCollins
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 . . .
Well, I am one of those people who likes Neil Gaiman. It seems like about half of readers love this guy's books to death from the first page-- they say things like he's an ultra-imaginative, clever genius, one of the most enchanting writers of our age. The other half tend to come to the conclusion that he's a little overrated, or that his stories are too confusing to follow, a little dark, and just plain weird. I totally agree with Gaiman's critics: his short stories more than his novels can lean towards bizarre, but I think he's a genius anyway. What I like most about his novels is how he takes a fantastical plot or setting (in this case, a graveyard) filled with unusual and often mysterious characters (here, a whole host of ghostly inhabitants and Bod's guardian Silas, a man who is neither alive nor dead) and weaves a brilliant, entertaining, and surprisingly believable story about human values and life. Yep, he is a genius in my eyes.
The Graveyard Book, along with all of other Neil Gaiman's other books for children and middle-grade readers, is definitely one I would want my future daughter read. The story is also subtle enough that adults can read it and enjoy the nostalgic feelings of childhood which are strong in Bod's story despite the unusual nature of his childhood. Fascination with a strange and sinister-seeming neighbor, being babysat by unlikely and ill-qualified candidates, spending the day with a new, quickly-made friend and having to say goodbye too soon, sneaking off to forbidden places... like Mowgli's, Bod's story is one we can relate to despite the strangeness of his circumstances. I can't recommend this book enough, for children, teens, and adults. Now, I want Neil Gaiman to hurry up and release his next novel The Ocean At the End of the Lane-- which comes out on my birthday!