The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
About the Author
Neil Gaiman is an English author who writes comics, books, graphic novels, short stories, film and theatre and has won many awards for his work. He was a great reader from an early age and states that JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a major influence to him and he read it a great deal as a child. Gaiman started his career as a journalist and his first book was a Duran Duran biography. Gaiman now lives in the United States.
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a perfectly normal boy. Apart from the fact that he lives in a graveyard and is being raised and educated by the ghosts, and his guardian belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead.
There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard: the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer; a gravestone entrance to a desert that leads to the city of should; friendship with a witch; and so much more.
But it is in the land of the living that the real dangers lurk, for it is there that the man Jack lives and he has already killed Bod’s family.
I was so excited to read this book after reading the short story in Coraline and Other Stories which is the fourth chapter in this book. So on my next bookshop visit I managed to buy a copy of the book. Sadly though I was rather disappointed with the book as a whole.
The book is about the life of Nobody Owens as a child and teenager and the struggles he goes through. Nobody or Bod for short escaped the same fate that his family went through and was protected by the ghosts of the Graveyard he wandered into and his guardian, Silas who is neither in the land of the living or the dead.
Bod is a typical boy growing up, he is full of wonder and the drive to learn however he lacks the fear and trepidation that most people feel because he has seen death is not all that bad. His best friends are ghosts, death holds no fear for him. He has also sampled the powers that the dead have and that the living do not and knows that they are very advantageous.
The first chapter shows how Bod came to the graveyard and I must admit I almost shed a tear when Mrs Owens finds him. The chapter was full of emotion and you can not help but desperately root for Bod, but also wonder how the ghosts of the graveyard will look after the child.
The subsequent chapters show snippets into Bod’s life at about yearly intervals. These chapters I must admit frustrated me as it left me wanting more and the things that were in the chapters were quite often never touched on again or even mentioned. I also wanted to know more about Silas and Miss Lupescu but that was not to be and the reader is left guessing. The character Jack and his kind are only lightly touched upon and this was another disappointment, all the time I wanted to know more details. My favourite chapter still remains The Witch’s Headstone.
The concept of Sleer was brilliant, I really liked the idea of a creature who is unbelievably ancient that nobody even remembers its reason for existence or even that it does exist. Sleer still remembers its purpose though but at the same time is desperate for somebody to become its master again. In a way it is like Bod, Bod wants answers and adventures and Sleer just wants a master a reason for it to still keep protecting.
There were moments in the story that really pulled on my heart strings and almost brought tears to my eyes and I absolutely loved the character of Bod and Mr and Mrs Owens. However I also found myself losing interest in places and that is one of the main reasons for the lower rating. I think reading the fourth chapter first as a short story was a mistake because the rest of the book just did not live up to my expectations.
The edition of the book I read had some beautiful illustrations in by Dave McKean which really added to the story and worked brilliantly in setting the dark mysterious scene of the graveyard. Here is one of my favourites.
A good read for adults and children and I think it would make an excellent film one day.
Just 3 stars out of 5 from me.
Lady Book Dragon