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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Title:  The Graveyard Book

Author:  Neil Gaiman

No. of Pages:  307

First Released:  2008

Synopsis (Courtesy of B&N): “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. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family . . .”

Comments and Critique:  My friend, Stephanie at Stephanie’s Confessions of a Book-a-Holic, is the one who convinced me to read this book.  Her gushing over anything by Neil Gaiman, and my complete trust in anything she loves sealed my fate as to whether I would eventually pick up this book or not.  I owe her, yet again, for this because The Graveyard Book is an amazing book.

I tend to shy away from horror or anything remotely scary.  If a scene gets too intense, I have to put down the book and switch to something lighter (because I’m a huge coward).  Mr. Gaiman got me up to the point where I was getting ready to put down the book but never took me over the edge where I had to do so.  I was so engaged while reading that what felt like a little time and only a few pages grew into a lot of time and many pages without me realizing it.  I was shocked when I saw that after two nights of bedtime reading (typically the twenty minutes or so that I can last before literally passing out), I was more than halfway done with the book.  I was kept so enthralled with the book that time, and the pages, literally flew.

The Graveyard Book is filled with great characters.  Bod, who struggles to maintain his humanity even when he does not realize just how unique he is, gains the reader’s sympathy from the moment he crawls out of his crib.  Silas, as his guardian, is more his father figure than Bod’s “true” father, the ghostly Mr. Owens.  In his mysterious way, he does more to teach Bod about life beyond the graveyard than Bod truly realizes.  There is a sense of danger and yet of complete and utter safety that exists around Silas that makes me think there is definitely another story there (hint, hint Mr. Gaiman).

I love how the horror and the mythical elements are not overdone.  Any other author could have truly made the ghouls grotesque and horrific or even made Ms. Lupescu terrifying.  Rather, I felt that Mr. Gaiman respected and gave tribute to each legend.  This was his homage to each mythical character, if you will.  That respect made them friendlier but also more realistic.  It is much easier to imagine Mr. Gaiman’s definition of ghosts in a cemetery than some other versions of them.

As I mentioned, I felt that Mr. Gaiman did a fantastic job of taking the reader right up to the edge of terror without going overboard.  Even though it is YA, I was waiting to read it first before I gave it to my nine-year-old to read.  I was afraid the subject matter was a bit too mature for him.  Now that I’ve finished, I can’t wait for him to read it to see his reaction.  If I liked it so much, I can only imagine how someone in the target audience will react to it.

I definitely recommend this to anyone interested in ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night!

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