Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Narrators: Neil Gaiman, Derek Jacobi, Robert Madge, Clare Corbett, Miriam Margolyes, Andrew Scott, Julian Rhind-Tutt
Audiobook Length: 8 hours, 24 minutes
Origins: Mine. All mine.
Release Date: 30 September 2008
“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…”
Thoughts on the
Novel Re-read: Neil Gaiman writes the best stories. With The Graveyard Book though, he has really outdone himself. Bod is such a special character. From the very first moment he enters the narrative, a reader feels immense sympathy towards this little boy who loses everything but gains so much more than anyone could imagine. Bod’s story is more than a coming-of-age narrative and more than a suspense novel. It is a sweet and yet intense story about identity and family – and what a family it is. Bod’s family is as eclectic a bunch of people as could ever exist, but it lessens none of the story for their affection for the boy is made all the more tender because of who or what they are.
In true Gaiman fashion, while there are bad guys and good ones, the shades of grey that exist among them heightens the drama and adds a touch of realism. The opening scene is an intense one for young readers, and the ambiguity that surrounds such characters as Silas and Miss Lupescu can be frightening as well. Mr. Gaiman does not spare his young readers from the life’s awful truths. He is not afraid to show that life is not without its dangers and without sadness. To offset the more frightening aspects of the story, and itself a nod to life’s realities, he adds a comic bent to most of the scenes. Scary monsters are made comical, and frightening scenes made less so with a bit of magic.
While touted as a children’s book, The Graveyard Book is so much more than a story just for kids. Readers of all ages will appreciate different elements of the story, which makes it a great choice for family read-alongs. Parents can offset the frank depictions of murder and bodily harm for their younger children by focusing on some of the sillier scenes, while older readers will appreciate the darker elements. The characters are stellar, and Gaiman’s turn of phrase is superb. If one has never read anything by Mr. Gaiman, The Graveyard Book would be the perfect introduction.
Thoughts on the Audiobook: This is one of the best audiobook experiences I have had in a long time. The story itself is great, but what truly makes the experience are the narrators. The narrator selections are absolute perfection. Each person truly becomes their character and have fun filling in the gaps about who (or what) each person is through their performances. Not only does this add to the drama, but it also enriches the story. All of Mr. Gaiman’s novels make for excellent audiobooks, but this cast makes The Graveyard Book truly outstanding.
I had such a flawless experience reading The Graveyard Book the first time (in the autumn sunshine outside on a picnic blanket, with Thin Mints to nibble on) that I’ve never reread it. Ridiculous situation! I’ll have to try and make time to reread this book sometime during the Christmas break.
Oh, wow. I would be afraid that nothing could ever live up to the first reading experience. Still, it is SUCH a good book. I would be curious to find out if where you read it makes any difference.
My son read this years ago, and he really seemed to enjoy it. As you said, Gaiman is a terrific storyteller. I might make Ocean at the End of the Lane my next read.
You should absolutely read this or Ocean. Both are just excellent.