November 10, 2009
The Graveyard Book
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Young Adult Fiction
2008 Harper Collins
Finished on 10/25/09
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)
2009 Newberry Medal
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-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. . . .
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 seems as though more and more adults are reading teen and juvenile fiction lately. Did this wave of interest begin with Harry Potter, or has it always been around and I'm just now more aware since I work in a bookstore? Marcus Zusak, Stephanie Meyers, and Suzanne Collins (to name just a few) have all generated further interest in the teen section of our store (myself included). I enjoy strong character development and suspenseful plots, as well as the creative originality of teen fiction (although, at times, the teenage angst is a tad bit annoying) and look forward to discovering more talented authors. However, I'm not sure the young reader books (Juvie Fiction) are compelling and complex enough to suit my taste. I liked Harry Potter well enough, but never did read beyond The Goblet of Fire. Earlier this year I read The Penderwicks and was only moderately entertained. It felt simplistic in content and writing style, but then why wouldn't it? Its intended audience is 9-12 year-olds. So when it came time to find a couple of quick reads to add to my stack for the recent Blogger Read-a-Thon, why did I choose Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book? Well, for starters I've never read anything by Gaiman and I thought this might be a good introduction to his works. And, I'd heard a few positive reviews for this particular title from fellow readers. But mainly I chose it because it was this year's recipient for the Newberry Award and, as I've come to know, it never hurts to have first-hand knowledge in order to offer a sincere and informed recommendation (or not) to a frantic customer during the holiday season.
While it didn't knock my socks off like The Book Thief (Zusak) or The Hunger Games (Collins) or Stargirl (Spinelli), it was entertaining and held my attention from start to finish. I came to care about Bod and his friends, and my heartstrings were gently tugged as I read the final pages. And I enjoyed the subtle nods to Harry Potter. Did I love it? Nah. But I liked it enough to want to read more by Gaiman. Maybe next time, though, I'll try something from his adult bibliography. I'm thinking maybe Good Omens (which I hear is very funny) or American Gods. I'm open to suggestions.
Lastly, let me share a favorite author's remarks on this book:
"The Graveyard Book is everything everyone loves about Neil Gaiman, only multiplied many times over, a novel that showcases his effortless feel for narrative, his flawless instincts for suspense, and above all, his dark, almost silky sense of humor." -- Joe Hill, author of Heart–Shaped Box.