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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman ⇉ What Took Me So Long to Read This Book???

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Graveyard Book
Neil Gaiman

Genre: MG/YA Fantasy
Paperback: 327 Pages
Publication: Sep. 28, 2010

Original Pub: Sep. 30, 2008
by Harper Collins


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, a gateway to abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible fleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will be in danger from the man Jack - who has already killed Bod's family . . .

Friends have been encouraging me to read Neil Gaiman's novels for years now. I remember loving (whilst simultaneously being terrified by) Coraline as a child, so I'm excited to be reading three of Gaiman's novels for my 2017 reading challenge. This is going to hold me accountable to finally reading his more recent works!

The Graveyard Book is a lovely and unexpected bildungsroman that has something for readers of all ages.
Going into this novel, I thought that it would be an an adventure like Coraline in which the protagonist solves a mystery. In actuality, it is the story of Bod's life as he matures from an adventuresome toddler into a young man capable of fending for himself. While his family's death sets off events and comes around full circle at the end of the novel, it hovers in the background throughout most of the plotline, and I was fine with that. Life is certainly an adventure with new things to be learned and discovered, but it doesn't have to be packed with thrill after thrill.

The writing is beautiful and filled delightful phrases and imagery. For example, in the beginning, the knife takes center stage and is described as being held by a hand. This seemingly innocuous description points the reader's attention to the knife and the evil it has committed without Gaiman needing to describe the bodies in great detail. Such images build tension in the novel while maintaining a maturity level that is appropriate for upper middle-grade readers. The plot is well-written and transitions smoothly from one stage of Bod's life to the next. (This isn't a straightforward mystery-adventure novel but is filled with many subplots and stories as Bod grows up, asks more questions, and gets into various misadventures that push him closer and closer to the mystery of and reason for his family's death. Some come back to haunt us later.)

It's rare that I find an MG-appropriate read with such a well-thought-out plot and characters. Though I love Bod (a certain amount of affection is to be expected after watching your MC grow up), I found myself drawn to the stories of the graveyard folk, especially the ones who play a larger role in Bod's development. Some of my favorites include Ms. Lupescue, Liza, and of course Silas. I would most certainly recommend this to more mature MG readers who are transitioning into YA reads. In fact, it would be an appropriate for the family to share.

Read, Reconsider, or Relinquish? This is a Read!

Recommended for readers who enjoy a good bildungsroman, especially one with fantasy elements mixed in. If you have younger readers at home, this is a good one for the family to enjoy together!

  • N/A
  • Murder (not explicit)
  • Ghouls and other creatures of the night
  • May include scary scenes for younger readers

2 comments on "The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman ⇉ What Took Me So Long to Read This Book???"
  1. Loved your review! "The Graveyard Book" is one of my favorite Gaiman works, slightly edging out "The Ocean At the End of the Lane." I think "Graveyard" is a subdued masterpiece for all of the above reasons - thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

    1. Thanks! I agree that Graveyard is a masterpiece :)

      I've heard fantastic things about The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It's on my TBR list for this year!


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