Friday, August 3, 2012
YA Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman (Goodreads/Twitter/Website)
Number of Pages: 320 pages
Publication Date: September 2008
Publisher: Bloomsbury (UK)
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Mystery
Series or Stand-Alone: Stand-Alone
Book Disclosure: Purchased from Bibliarch
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 beneath the hill, a gateway to a desert leading to an abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer.
But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family.
There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.
Neil Gaiman is a new find for me. I’ve never read anything by this author before but his name kept popping up of my friend’s favorite list so I decided to give his works a try and know what the buzz is all about. I should be ashamed to admit this but I picked up The Graveyard Book purely because of the magnificent cover by Chris Riddell. I was instantly drawn because the illustrations were wonderfully done. But soon, I discovered that there’s more to this book that meet the eyes.
Inspired by Rudyard Kipling's classic The Jungle Book, The Graveyard Book tells the story and adventures of an orphaned boy, Nobody Owens, raised in a graveyard inhabited by ghosts, ghouls and every other creepy creature you could think of. But Gaiman deviates from the concept by cleverly turning Kipling's classic story into a beautifully-written, dark-witty fantasy.
I applaud Gaiman for his brilliant imagination. His imagery and the world he had created in The Graveyard Book were for me, worthy of praise. I marveled at his skill for making the imagery seemed larger than life and for making the readers feel that they were also a part of this strange and yet wonderful place that he had created.
Although the opening scene and the setting might be enough to give some readers the creeps, Gaiman was careful not to focus too much on the dark side of death and even skillfully turned Bod's encounters with the graveyard members as a source of humor. From the comical names to the date of death and reason for their demise, each and every one of those mentioned in the story would surely bring laughter to the readers.
I also give kudos to Gaiman for creating such a wonderful cast. Nobody Owens, is an endearing child, while at the same time, not a weak character. He's brave, sweet and compassionate. With every chapter and adventure that Bod went through, as a reader I saw how Gaiman had used that in order for Bod to grow as a person. Even if Bod grew up in a graveyard, Gaiman was able to make him a believable and well-rounded character, and someone that people could relate to.
The supporting casts are also something to look forward to when you read this book. There’s an abundance of interesting characters and some of my favorites were the witty witch Liz, the fussy Mr. Pennyworth, and the substitute guardian Miss Lupescu. There's also the mysterious Silas who was both a mentor and a father figure to Bod while he was in the graveyard. Each and every one of them had made a huge impact not only in the life of Bod but in the story itself as well. Although they were not humans, you will be able to relate them to the people you encounter in your everyday life.
There’s so much more about this book that I haven’t mentioned but The Graveyard Book is, in a word, a masterpiece. This book is a bittersweet coming of age tale, a classic that is a deserving winner of the Newberry Medal. Fans of Gaiman and those who haven’t read his works would surely be delighted with this wonderful book.