Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

In a sentence or so: A boy's parents are killed when he is just a tot. He grows up in a graveyard with a fantastical destiny he could never have imagined.

After the boy's parents are killed by a man named Jack, he toddles over to the graveyard. The ghosts agree to take him in (though some quite reluctantly) and raise him as best they can. The caregiver agrees to help with the food and the clothes and the ghosts agree to help with the education and safety of the young boy. They think the best way to truly keep him safe is to keep him as low key as possible. And just like that, Nobody Owens has found a home.

Bod grows up in the graveyard, but he always yearns for something more. He wants a normal life and he can't figure out why Silas, his protector, and the ghosts are worried about people finding out about him. Bod learns some sweet ghost moves like fading and haunting dreams, but he continues to long for a traditional human experience.

We slowly discover who the man named Jack is, what he was doing in Bod's house that night, and how Bod fits into the grand scheme of things. Bod's life in the graveyard is bizarre and somewhat spooky, but he is also taught things and nurtured in a way that will prove incredibly useful in his not too distant and very important future.

I loved the dark fantasy elements of The Graveyard Book. Bod fell a little flat for me sometimes, but the subtle incorporation of magical/fantastical plot points firmly held my interest. This is one of those books that has layer upon layer of meaning, so you can take it where you're at. I like that a lot.

The Graveyard Book takes on some Big Life Questions. Who is our family? What does it mean to be alive? What is my purpose? Who am I meant to be? We see the answers for Bod and we are left pondering what it means for ourselves as the reader.

While this didn't live up to the crazy amount of hype for me, The Graveyard Book is still a solid read with a unique story and some dark twists that will keep you interested. It is worth the read if just for the hours/days/weeks of self-reflection that come as a result.

Fave quote: "You're alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you change the world, the world will change." (179)

Fix er up: A more compelling main character would have helped me connect with this book on a deeper level.

Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Death, Fantasy, Paranormal, Coming-of-Age
Publishing Info: 2008, HarperCollins

[FTC Notice: I borrowed a copy of this book from my library. I was not compensated in any way for this review. YAY FOR LIBRARIES!]

I read this book as part of the Science Fiction Reader Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge, and the Rewind and Review feature. Three birds, one stone. WHAT WHAT.

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.

16 comments:

  1. OH MY GOD I LOVE THIS BOOK LIKE PIE! I am quite convinced that one of my happy places is in the Graveyard with those beautiful characters Bod meets.

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    1. There are some great secondary characters, fo sho!

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  2. I have had this book on my TBR list for so long, I really need to get to it soon. I think I will really like it.

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  3. I love this book! I was obsessed with Neil Gaiman for about a month after I read it XD

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  4. OH WOW I loved this one so much. Hooray for Gaiman and his Newbery, Hugo, Carnegie, and something else...Locus? I can't remember. I read this one for the Award Winning Reads challenge last year and still think about it a lot.

    Also, Gaiman reads the audiobook. So flippin awesome. And the illustrations? I die.

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    1. I will totally think about this for many moons. And that is super rad that he reads his own audiobook!

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  5. I have seen this book around FOR EV ER.

    And I've never read it. I like ghosts. I think graveyards are interesting settings for books. I guess because there's not a girl with a flowy dress on the cover or a kissing couple, I shy away from books like this.

    You, my friend, make me want to read it. Even if it didn't live up to your expectations.

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    1. I tend to flock to books like this...which may be why I didn't fall head over for it.

      TOTALLY worth the read if just for the discussion that is sure to follow.

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  6. I have wanted to read this one for awhile now...but for some reason it remains neglected. Sorry to hear that it didn't quite live up to they hype (I hate it when that happens!) but glad to hear that it's still a solid book.

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  7. So confession time: I LIKE Neil Gaiman a lot, but I have a tendency to not always LOVE his books (with the exception of Odd and the Frost Giants--it's short and Viking-ish and awesome). I really liked The Graveyard Book, but like most of his work for me, I can't devour it, and sometimes it's the darkness of his stuff that turns me off. I did cry a little at the end, though. I'm such a sap over here. Bummer that this one wasn't awesome for you :-\

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  8. It took me quite a while to get into this one but I did end up enjoying it. Sadly, it seems to have been a forgettable book for me seeing as though I read it only a couple months ago and I've basically forgotten everything about it.

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  9. i hated this book, i had to read it for school and found it really boring, sorry to those people who enjoyed it, but i found the story line pointless!

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    1. I agree with you anonymous, i had to read it for school and found the plot very un-realistic. I didnt like it at all, it was boring,and for you jasmine rose, it's a good thing that you've forgotten everything about it because it was the worst book i've ever read!!

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  10. I couldn't disagree more with some of the statements in this entire post and comments.

    The first thing I find funny is that they found the plot "un-realistic"... it's a fantasy novel Ffion. It's meant to be that way. Ghosts talking to the baby wasn't a dead give away of that? How about the fact that he learns special abilities? He walks the line between the dead and the living.

    The book's main character is subtle, but you can see how he grows up throughout the story. His personality is shown throughout the book, and his maturity comes through in his school days with amazing clarity.

    The boy is how we all are before things corrupt us. TV, people with associate with, parental baggage... all these things change what we are at birth. He is funny, brave, curious, thirsting to learn, calm under pressure, assertive, and full of spunk. He goes to school as an adult would. Most of us, if given the chance to return to school, wouldn't give a crap about any of the politics and games the kids play, but while we were there, we did (for the most part). This kid was so much mature than most people his age, and also taunt by generations of personalities, cultures, and intelligences.

    This book has its ups and downs, but in no way is it pointless, overrated, or any of the other things I've read. But then again, this is just an opinion, and we all have them.

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  11. I couldn't disagree more with some of the statements in this entire post and comments.

    The first thing I find funny is that they found the plot "un-realistic"... it's a fantasy novel Ffion. It's meant to be that way. Ghosts talking to the baby wasn't a dead give away of that? How about the fact that he learns special abilities? He walks the line between the dead and the living.

    The book's main character is subtle, but you can see how he grows up throughout the story. His personality is shown throughout the book, and his maturity comes through in his school days with amazing clarity.

    The boy is how we all are before things corrupt us. TV, people with associate with, parental baggage... all these things change what we are at birth. He is funny, brave, curious, thirsting to learn, calm under pressure, assertive, and full of spunk. He goes to school as an adult would. Most of us, if given the chance to return to school, wouldn't give a crap about any of the politics and games the kids play, but while we were there, we did (for the most part). This kid was so much mature than most people his age, and also taunt by generations of personalities, cultures, and intelligences.

    This book has its ups and downs, but in no way is it pointless, overrated, or any of the other things I've read. But then again, this is just an opinion, and we all have them.

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