Monday, August 18, 2014

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

Summary: 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 . . . 

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. (Image and summary from Goodreads.com)

My Review: While his family is being murdered, a diaper-clad toddler wanders out of the open front door and disappears into the night. The murderer's target was always the child, but he wanted the entire family dead to keep things clean. The murderer sees that the only logical place for the child to wander to is the graveyard down the street. As he goes to investigate, he is greeted by a groundskeeper who assures the man that there is no baby in the graveyard. 

The baby wandered into the graveyard. Silas, a frequent visitor of the graveyard, misled the murderer, giving the residents of the graveyard time to decide what to do with the child. Still in diapers and unable to do much more than babble, he is helpless. Mrs. Owens--a long-dead ghost who never had children during her life--immediately takes to the child. When the disturbed specters of the boy's recently murdered parents give Mrs. Owen their blessing for her to raise him, the graveyard decides to consider the matter. It's decided--Mrs. and Mr. Owens will raise the boy, but only because Silas has agreed to be his guardian. After all, Silas is the only one who can leave the cemetery. 

The boy--Nobody, nicknamed "Bod"--has a strange childhood, learning to read off of headstones and being educated by long-dead scholars. He befriends a young girl who often visits the graveyard. He encounters mischievous ghouls and severe werewolves. He knows little about his past, but his guardian and ghost family never forget that there is still a man out there who wants Bod dead. Bod has yet to understand the complexities and the risks of the real world. As he grows into a young man and learn of his past, he begins to realize that he can't always stay in the protected walls of the graveyard. He must confront the man who murdered his family and he must begin to live with the living. 

“You're alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you're dead, it's gone. Over. You've made what you've made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.” 


My Rating: Five stars

To Sum It Up: This charming story reads like a fairy tale and Mr. Gaiman admitted to being inspired by Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. Each chapter is its own complete short story while still contributing to the overarching, chronological plot of the book. I have never read any book like this and I absolutely loved it. Graveyards, ghosts, ghouls, and other mythical demons unite to help a lost child. He definitely has an unconventional childhood, yet still learns sacrifice, love, bravery, and friendship. It was simultaneously fascinating, silly, macabre, and heart-rending. I am not ashamed to admit that I could hardly read the final pages through my tears. This book has been optioned for a Hollywood movie. Discover it in print first. 

For the Sensitive Reader: This is a children's book and is fit for that audience. There is the murder of Bod's family and the fact that a murderer is still after him, but the violence is very mild and age-appropriate for this YA book. No bad language. No sex. Pretty clean overall. 

1 comment:

Tara's Blogs said...

I like Neil Gaiman, so I was hoping that this book would be as good as the ones before. I'm glad to hear that you thought it was. It sounds like it was inspiring and had a good message. I will definitely read this. Thanks for the review!

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