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Friday, May 22, 2009

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Published: October 2008

Pages: 312

Copyright: 2008

Rating 4 1/2 Crown

I listened to The Graveyard Book on audio and oh what a treat! It's narrated by the author, Neil Gaiman, who reads brilliantly, does different character voices making each totally believable, & I found his reading style & voice quite mesmerising. I really did become completely immersed in the world of the graveyard. A truly "ageless" read.

Gaiman is delightful on podcast, with trademark self depreciating humour he informs of the origins of The Graveyard Book & how he made a start on it many years ago & put it aside quite a few times, believing he wasn't a good enough writer to pull it off. Of the first chapter he states "it's the scariest thing I've ever written."

It begins with the murder of a toddler's family, (violent but not graphic) by the man Jack. A midnight toddle, to a nearby graveyard means the little boy narrowly avoids the fate of his entire family. Saved by the residents of the graveyard, Nobody Owens (Bod) is adopted by the long dead, Mr & Mrs Owens & granted the Freedom of the Graveyard. His guardian Silas, neither dead nor alive, brings him food and ensures he is educated in the ways of the living & the dead. We follow Bod as he travels through ghoul gates, attends public school, makes friends of the dead & undead variety & learns to fade & haunt.

While a little scary, & definitely creepy, this story also has a sweetness & goodness that I found very touching. The Jack of All Trades plot is quite bizarre but ultimately this is a tale about family, friendship & growing up, albeit a little strangely, but hey this is fantasy. Chapters are structured as short stories moving through Bod's life & by the ending I had tears in my eyes. It's not a bad ending but an emotional one, it reminded me of The House At Pooh Corner, when Christopher Robin comes of age.

Favourite quotes:

"What's so important that you have to go away?" Bod's six year old mind tried to imagine something that could make Silas want to leave him and failed. 'it's not fair."
His guardian was unperturbed. "it is neither fair nor unfair, Nobody Owens. It simply is."

"Name the different kinds of people," said Miss Lupescu. "Now."
Bod thought for a moment. "The living," he said. "Er. The dead." He stopped. Then, "...Cats?" he offered, uncertainly.

Are [people] happier dead?"
"Sometimes. Mostly, no. 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."

Check out Neil Gaiman's website for lots of interesting & amusing info & a visit to Mr Bobo’s Remarkable Mouse Circus – Neil Gaiman’s official website for young readers is an absolute must. Here you will be able to watch the master storyteller himself read The Graveyard Book in its entirety.

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NotNessie said...

I had a very similar reaction to this book. I am glad you enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

I want to read this one. Good review!

I love the 4 1/2 crowns by the way!

The Book Resort said...

Oh, I might give this one a listen. Thanks!

Fab review as always!

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

Hi Teddyree!

I've been wanting to read this book, and after your review, I think I'll just head over and pick it up!

Great review, I really enjoyed it!

Dottie :)

Carolyn Crane (aka Carolyn Jean) said...

Wow, how cool that he narrated it himself! I love that. There's just nothing better than being read to by somebody so engaging. I might have to give this one a try!

Marg said...

i read this and loved it, and then started listening to it almost straight away. I am slowly becoming something of a Gaiman fangirl, particularly his YA books.

Teddyree said...

I have quite a few of Gaiman's adult novels to read but this was a fantastic audiobook. Neil Gaiman has a voice like warm honey LOL