Sunday, February 22, 2009

TSS - Review - The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Finished: 2/16/09
Source: my sister (Thanks, Carolynn!)
Rating: 9/10

Synopsis from B&N:

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 . . . 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.

My thoughts:

It's almost difficult to put into words exactly how good this book is. I don't hesitate to say that I'm a Neil Gaiman fan - I believe he is one of the best storytellers of our generation, and I always have high expectations for his work. So when I say this novel exceeded my expectations, what I mean is that I'm not sure I have, even yet, realized exactly how brilliant it is.

Gaiman talks in his introduction about how much he owns to Kipling's "The Jungle Book", and the parallels are easy to see - a real, live boy, raised apart from his family by creatures not like himself, figuring out which world he truly belongs in - Gaiman does this sort of thing in many of his novels, and I think it works particularly well here. His characters are interesting, a little creepy, and somewhat mysterious, and he always leaves the reader a little bit of room for their own imagination.

He also doesn't force a "happily-ever-after" ending - I don't want to give too much away, but he allows the natural progression of the story, even though it doesn't end with happiness and joy, and the book is better for it. It is never a light, happy read - it does, after all, take place in a graveyard - but Gaiman's humor keeps it from feeling like a downer. Bod does his share of silly, impulsive things, and there are beautiful moments, as well, that make reading the book a pleasure.

Each time I think about it, I remember something else I loved. This is a novel I will certainly read again, and I'm sure discover more to enjoy. I'm thrilled for the author that it won this year's Newbery - I believe it deserves the praise.


bermudaonion said...

I just read my first Gaiman book, Coraline and loved it. I really want to read this one!

Literary Feline said...

I am looking forward to reading this one. I have only read two of the author's books so far, but enjoyed both--they were so different from one another too! The author has good range. Thanks for the great review.

Elizabeth said...

Bermuda - READ IT!! It's better than Coraline. I'm STILL thinking of things I like about it.

Literary Feline - he really does have quite the range. And I think in The Graveyard Book he's hitting his stride as a YA author.

Gavin said...

Loved this book. Great review. If you get a chance try some of his graphic novel stuff. Sandman or Black Orchid.

Kristen M. said...

I loaned my copy out to a friend a few weeks ago and I'm already getting antsy to have it back for a re-read! I liked this one more than Coraline too.

Vasilly said...

I read The Graveyard Book earlier this book and had a hard time writing a review. It's like you want to go back and read it again and again first to make sure you didn't miss a thing.

Shelley said...

I'm definitely going to read this again! It was excellent.