Gaiman, Neil. Ills. Dave McKean. (2010). The Graveyard Book. New York: Harper Collins. ISBN 0060530944.
2. PLOT SUMMARY
Once on a cold, dark evening, a baby wandered out of his home and into a graveyard. When his parents and sibling are killed, Nobody Owens is adopted by the denizens of a local graveyard and kept safe from the dark Jack who is looking for the child. For years, he lives in the mausoleum with them, learning how to Fade and Haunt and given free range of the graveyard, with little need of the world beyond the gates. However, time stops for no living person, and Bod grows up. He begins to question life beyond the gates, school, and finally what happened to his family. Set inside decades of headstones and populated by a cast of characters from modern day to ancient ghouls, The Graveyard Book gives a unique twist on the classic story of a boy growing up and finding his place in the world.
3. CRITICAL ANALYSIS
I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Neil Gaiman’s writing and other books that I was excited to dive into this one for my review. The setting is masterful and dark without being too jump-scare creepy, and the majority of the characters are familiar and comfortable – even with old-fashioned language from their personal time periods. I particularly enjoyed the way he introduced the cast of the graveyard with their names, dates, and epitaphs. The fantasy of the book is engaging, even when the characters are sometimes less than believable. The prose flows and keeps the book moving, floating from page to page, even when the main character didn’t really keep me entertained. Perhaps the book might come across better in the graphic novel format, where there is more interesting drawings to keep the reader engaged and nothing to distract from the plot and ghostlike character of Bod, whose presence was much like he is depicted in the book and slides from memory as soon as you stop reading about him. In the version I had, the illustrations looked more like some clip art to tie in with the book, rather than something drawn specifically for the novel in places and character sketches in others, which were beautiful, but didn't add immensely to the novel itself. I found the villain and the climax of the book to be disconcerting as it jumped from place to place without a clear image of what exactly was happening and felt unsettled at the end of the ordeal, but happy with the overall ending of the book.
4. REVIEW EXCERPT(S)
2009 JOHN NEWBERRY AWARD
2010 CARNEGIE MEDAL
2009 HUGO AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL
2008 CYBILS AWARD FOR FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION
2010 SFX AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL
2009 LOCUS AWARD FOR BEST YOUNG-ADULT BOOK
From BOOKLIST – “This is an utterly captivating tale that is cleverly told through an entertaining cast of ghostly characters. There is plenty of darkness, but the novel’s ultimate message is strong and life affirming. Although marketed to the younger YA set, this is a rich story with broad appeal and is highly recommended for teens of all ages.”
From SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL – “The child Bod's behavior is occasionally too precocious to be believed, and a series of puns on the name Jack render the villain a bit less frightening than he should be, though only momentarily. Aside from these small flaws, however, Gaiman has created a rich, surprising, and sometimes disturbing tale of dreams, ghouls, murderers, trickery, and family.”
Gather other paranormal coming of age books to read such as:
• Brosgol, Vera. ANYA’S GHOST. ISBN 1596435526.
• Riggs, Ransom. MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN. ISBN 1594746036.
• Roux, Madeline. ASYLUM. ISBN 0062220977.
Gather other books by Neil Gaiman such as:
• Ills. Dave McKean. CORALINE. ISBN 0380807343.
• NEVERWHERE. ISBN 0060557818.
• STARDUST. ISBN 0061689246.