Friday, January 30, 2009

Review: The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

If you haven't heard of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book you are unfortunately not very attentive. The book's been in the news all week as it has just won the prestigious Newbery Medal. Add to that the confirmation of a movie version, to be directed by Neil Jordan. Hailed as an 'instant classic' there is no doubt that The Graveyard Book is big news right now. Is all the hype deserved? In a word... yes :)

The book begins with a triple stabbing, leaving a baby orphaned... said baby wanders to a nearby graveyard and is brought up by the ghosts that live in the graveyard. Crazy premise but it definitely works.

From amazon:
The sole survivor of the attack--an 18-month-old baby--escapes his crib and his house, and toddles to a nearby graveyard. Quickly recognizing that the baby is orphaned, the graveyard's ghostly residents adopt him, name him Nobody ("Bod"), and allow him to live in their tomb. Taking inspiration from Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Gaiman describes how the toddler navigates among the headstones, asking a lot of questions and picking up the tricks of the living and the dead. In serial-like episodes, the story follows Bod's progress as he grows from baby to teen, learning life’s lessons amid a cadre of the long-dead, ghouls, witches, intermittent human interlopers. A pallid, nocturnal guardian named Silas ensures that Bod receives food, books, and anything else he might need from the human world. Whenever the boy strays from his usual play among the headstones, he finds new dangers, learns his limitations and strengths, and acquires the skills he needs to survive within the confines of the graveyard and in wider world beyond.

The chapters begin with illustrations by Dave McKean which are spooky and great, I really wish there had been more of them! Each chapter reads as a sort of individual short story, Bod is usually at a different age and will discover a new thing and have a new adventure, with a mini-conclusion in each one.

It's a 'coming-of-age' type-book -we all know that when Bod is going to reach a certain age he will need to leave the graveyard - and it's highly enjoyable to read Gaiman's masterful storytelling as Bod goes from a curious toddler to a determined teenager.

When I got to the end of the book, my main thought was how I didn't want it to end. I wanted to keep reading about Bod and the other characters. Why did it finish?! :(

If you haven't already read it, go read it. Now! I give it 4.5/5 stars... have you read it yet? If not, why not?!


  1. Ok I'm taking the last comment as an order... have to wait until Monday though if that's ok?

    It really is a book I've been meaning to get and now everyone seems to have read it except me, Monday for definite.

  2. I hadn't heard yet that there was going to be a movie. Do you know when it's expected to come out? I am looking forward to reading this one. I love Neil Gaiman's writing.

  3. I don't know when the movie will be out.. not for a long while I wouldn't think as it has only just been announced that there will even be one! :)

  4. I haven't read this yet (shame, I know!), but if you liked it, you may also enjoy From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury. It's about a mortal boy brought up by a mummy, a vampire, a ghost, and other assorted haunts who love him as their own but realize that one day he will have to move on...

  5. Yay!!!!!! I'm so glad it won!!!!

    Oh, and there's an interesting one called... darn, what's it called? The Devil, the Banshee and Me. I think. I'd have to check to be sure.

  6. This book is simply amazing. I loved it. I know that some object to it's content because it is listed as a children's book...but hey so was Harry Potter and look how very dark and bloody that book series turned out to be.
    I was left wanting for more by the time I read the last sentence. I had the pleasure of meeting Neil Gaiman on his book tour and he did say that there "might" be another story with Bod in the we may have our wish of reading more of this wonderful tale.

    Also if you have the chance, go to Neil Gaimans web site and check out his video tour. He personally read all the chapters during his book tour and then posted them all online. I attended Chapter 5, The Dance Macabre. His voice was so very soothing, it was a night that I will not forget :)

  7. Rie and Laina - Thankyou so much for the recommendations! I'm going to see if I can find them :)

    Ravenous Reader - I sincerely hope that there is another story with Bod in the future, he has his whole life ahead of him for adventure! We need to read about it :) Also, I am so so jealous about you meeting Neil! There is so much stuff on his website.. I will definitely check that out!

  8. Ahh, I just love this book. :)

  9. Hey, did you read M is For Magic? It has a Bod story in it, too.

    And I looked it on (yay for amazon :P) and that book I was trying to remember is The Devil, the Banshee and Me and it's by L.M Falcone

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