It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. If you see what I mean” – The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
Initial Thoughts: The Graveyard Book was part of my spring-summer reading list for this year! One down, nine to go! I chose this book as a part of my top ten reading list because I may have to study it for a course I am planning on taking next year at university. At first, I thought that the book would be a charming children’s story with a dash of ghosts while sparing children of having to read a “scary book.” Well… I was wrong.
When his family is murdered, a young toddler wanders into a graveyard where he is adopted by ghosts. Throughout his childhood, young Nobody “Bod” Owens lives amongst the dead. If he leaves the graveyard, he becomes vulnerable to the menacing presence of the murderer who will not rest until he has finished his job.
About the Book
Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Year Published: 2008
Genres: Fantasy, Children’s fiction, Young Adult fiction, Paranormal
The Graveyard Book is the bedtime story I wouldn’t read to young children. It is that book that a child will beg his or her parents to read. Then once the parent gives in, the child will be seen cowering underneath a mountain of blankets. Honestly though, it is not an extremely scary children’s novel. For a children’s novel, I would say that it is more macabre than I would have imagined a children’s novel to be. Will it scare children? Maybe. Will it scare parents into thinking that they will terrify their children by reading this book to them? Maybe.
One thing that definitely caught my eye while reading this book is Gaiman’s narrative style. Neil Gaiman has a perfect writing style which illustrates his novels as if they were movies. I found myself imagining how a filmmaker would go about transforming this story to the screen. Some novels focus too much on the internal state of the main character. Gaiman balances his narration between the thoughts of his interestingly named main character Nobody “Bod” Owens, and the unravelling story around him.
Although there are many stories which feature graveyards, it is very rare that it will be the main setting of a book. Neil Gaiman’s graveyard is a wondrous place of magic and mystery. Honestly, I would love to visit the graveyard and meet the ghouls lurking in the underground. After finishing this novel, I read that Gaiman was primarily inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. I would say that it is definitely similar to The Jungle Book, except for a few differences, most of the characters are ghosts and not animals. I would even go as far to say that this book is a cross between The Jungle Book and Harry Potter.
As a rule of thumb, any novel written by Neil Gaiman is a masterpiece. So far, I have read a total of four of his novels, and I haven’t been disappointed. Gaiman is like the literary version of Tim Burton. His ideas may be slightly outlandish, but they are always fresh and unique. The Graveyard Book is an example of Gaiman’s innovative creativity as a writer. If you don’t believe me, then please refer to the numerous awards that The Graveyard Book received. The Graveyard Book received a Carnegie Medal, a Newberry Medal, the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and the Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book.
Even though this novel is triumphed for being an excellent children’s novel, I would primarily recommend it to preteens and young adults. Instead, for children, I would suggest that they read Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, which is also an excellent novel. Surprisingly, when I was perusing through the books at my local bookstore a few days ago, I found an edition of The Graveyard Book which was marketed for adults. Therefore, this book is one which can appeal to a larger audience than just being a children’s novel. For a book to transcend age group is rather rare. So, if you enjoy books about ghosts and would like to know about the adventures of Nobody Owens, then please give The Graveyard Book a try.
Final rating: B
Until next time,