As I mentioned in my Book Hangover Part I, there were two books that left me reeling.
The second reason it’s been hard for me to move on as far as reading goes is Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.
The first thing that piqued my interest was the title. Immediately following was the surprise that it was part of the Children’s collection. What story could be about graveyards and have grade school children as its audience?
I just had to read the book jacket.
And this is what I read (with what I thought):
After the grisly murder of his entire family (Say what?! Murder?), a toddler wanders into a graveyard (Wait, a graveyard? *the title is starting to make sense*) where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own (*the title makes perfect sense* Wait, how do ghosts and supernatural residents raise a human child? Does he have powers or something?).
Nobody Owens (Such a cool name! Nobody. *reminds me of Dean Koontz’ Odd Thomas*), known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy (Normal boy with superpowers?). 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 (So, no superpowers). 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 . . . (I am so reading this book!)
And read it I did.
It was my first Neil Gaiman story and I wasn’t disappointed. The fact that this book won the Newberry Award doesn’t surprise me. It was … yeah, doesn’t surprise me at all.
Nobody is a strong character, right out of the gates. As you read in the summary, as a toddler, Nobody wandered into a graveyard. He’s ‘adopted’ by one of the couples of the graveyard and has a guardian that takes care of his human needs, like food and clothes. Nobody doesn’t have any special powers, but his story is extraordinary. Bod isn’t the only strong or interesting character. As Gaiman writes snippets of Bod’s story, there are some really amazing characters throughout the story.
I love how Gaiman wrote the narrative. It’s third person. The impression I got when reading this is that someone was actually sitting by me telling me a story. Gaiman shows us snapshots of Nobody’s life growing up in the graveyard. One chapter is Bod at the age of 5. Another when he’s around 8 years old. We read of his adventures in the graveyard and what he learns of the supernatural world. It was just … amazing. I know it sounds a bit dark, and it does have a dark underlining, but it’s just a really interesting and really fun adventure. And, I’m not going to lie, it does have a touch of sadness. Almost heart-wrenching, but so worth it, and brilliantly written.
It also has amazing illustrations, done by Dave McKean. I love them. They also seem strategically placed to move the story and I think they really enhance the story.
The story ends … well. In some ways I really want Gaiman to expand on this story, either by expanding on … some of the elements in the story or continuing Bod’s story. I believe it could really give a wider perspective to Bod’s life in the graveyard. However, as I mentioned, the story ends well and while I’ll be a bit sad to see it end, I’ll survive it because it was so good.
I am definitely adding this to my library. I don’t know whether I want it in tangible form or electronic, but stories that are near and dear to me I usually want a hard copy of. After all, you actually own a hard copy. Also, the hard copy will have McKean’s fabulous illustrations 🙂 .
So, this is definitely in the running for a Top 5 Favorites, if I could ever narrow it down. I definitely recommend trying it out.
“Sleep my little baby-oh
Sleep until you waken
When you wake you’ll see the world
If I’ not mistaken
Kiss a lover
Dance a measure
Find your name
And buried treasure
Face your life
Its pain, its pleasure,
Leave no path untaken”