Friday, June 11, 2010 By: Suzanne

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is the story of Bod, short for Nobody Owens, who grows up in the graveyard near his home after the murder of his family. His best friends are ghosts and his guardian is neither living nor dead and he can never leave the graveyard or "the man called Jack" will come for him.

I have been wanting to read this for awhile now since I have loved all of Gaiman's other novels, but it seems that some other book always got in the way of this one. Finally, last night I finished The Path of Daggers and decided today would be the day I would sit down with this book. I started a little after 9 this morning and finished at 5:30 this evening. This includes, of course, my many trips to the computer to play games on Pogo or write emails or check Facebook (which for some reason can take a surprising amount of time). Even at 305 pages it is a very quick read, since it is written for middle schoolers. I loved that, in spite of writing for a specific audience, Gaiman does not talk down to the reader. At no point did I get that sense of "irritating teacher talk." This is what I call the way some adults talk to children when they don't really know how to talk to children. And the only point when I felt Gaiman was over explaining things was when Bod's friend Scarlett talks about deja vu, but then when I reminded myself that the intended audience for this book might not really know deja vu, then it didn't feel over explained at all.

What really grabbed me in this book was Bod. He's an amazing character and I really want to see more of him. I am hoping Gaiman writes a sequel to this. There are a couple things that feel not very well explained and have that sense of "you'll find out later" as if there are supposed to be more books. I also very much loved the relationship between Silas and Bod. I want to read more of it! In fact, I was so sure, based on the way the book ended and the details that were not completely explained, that there must be a sequel planned. I was so sure that I searched for it and low and behold I found this on an FAQ page on Gaiman's Mouse Circus  site:

Q: Could you write a sequel to THE GRAVEYARD BOOK? I just finished it and I want more!
A: I will, yes, but it will go to very different places—and it may not get back to the Graveyard.

YAYYYY! I don't when but some day I will again get to read about Bod, and maybe find out if my suspicions on Silas are correct.
Near the beginning of the book one passage made me just giggle out loud, in spite of the terrible things happening in the scene. Bod is just a baby, a little more than a year old and the man Jack is in the house killing his family. Bod, unaware of this, wakes to a noise and is bored in his crib so he decides to climb out:
He landed with a muffled thump on a small mound of furry, fuzzy toys, some of them presents from relations from his first birthday, not six months gone, some of them inherited from his older sister. He was surprised when he hit the floor, but he did not cry out: if you cried they came and put you back in your crib.
Why was this funny to me? Because it is exactly what my sister's son did either about this age or a little younger. I actually think he might have been a little younger. Except there was nothing to soften his fall. And he landed on his head. And he seemed very proud of himself. 

Another thing that got me was how unimportant life must seem to someone who grows up in a cemetery surrounded by people who have already died and are happy as ghosts. Why would he care if the man called Jack killed him? And in fact, Gaiman addresses this:

Bod shrugged. "So?" he said. "It's only death. I mean, all of my best friends are dead." 

I won't ruin it and give Silas' response to this but it's good. Read this book. You will love it, no matter your age.


Kah Woei said...

Haha! It's nice to hear when someone shares your opinion about a book. I loved this book and Bod too :-)

Anonymous said...

This is the Gaiman book everyone tells me I should start with. Looks like they are right!