Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I try not to read too many reviews of a book that I just know I'm going to read. I don't like going in with too many preconceived notions about a book. And when I first started seeing The Graveyard Book around I knew I wanted to read it. I haven't read any other Neil Gaiman books (although I do have Coraline on my TBR pile) so I wasn't sure what to expect. When this book won the Newberry Award and I saw it everywhere I quit reading reviews about it. :-)

It was Friday the 13th last week and I found myself looking through my shelves for a new book to read. I decided on The Graveyard Book just because Friday the 13th seemed like a good excuse to read a book centered around a cemetary.

I really REALLY wanted to like this book and started it very enthusiastically. But, after the first couple chapters I wasn't sure what I thought. I plowed ahead and am really glad I did. I ended up truly liking this book. It's the story of Nobody Owens who narrowly escapes danger as a baby to end up living in a graveyard his whole life. Ghosts and other supernatural/paranormal characters become his guardians and best friends. As he gets older, he longs to learn and be around people who are alive. After trying out a "normal" school, it is decided the graveyard is where he should be. The danger he experienced as a baby still surrounds him and the graveyard is the only place he is truly safe.

I was expecting a book that flowed well through the boy's life but found the story rather choppy. It took me until Chapter 4 to get into the flow of the book. Each chapter could be a short story within itself and the next chapter doesn't necessarily flow from one to the next. There are large time jumps between chapters. Once I got used to this, I really enjoyed the book. In reading the acknowledgments at the end of the book, Gaiman says he actually started writing the book at Chapter 4 and filled in the earlier chapters later. It's interesting that is the point at which the book really grabbed me.

This book has adventure, a tad bit of mystery, fun characters, and I see it as an allegory (hmm...did I use that word correctly?) for life or growing up. Even though all of this happening in a graveyard is very abnormal, the boy had people (his adoptive parents and guardian) to love him, teach him, and protect him. He learns life lessons that help him along his journey and he grows up and moves on outside of his "family" just as many of us do. I love the end of the story and the promise it holds for Nobody Owens after the dark childhood he had.

I recommend this book and say stick with it even if it doesn't quite grab you in the beginning.

Other reviews of this book:
Hidden Side of the Leaf (Dewey listed 11 other reviews too! And a book trailer!)
Thoughts of Joy
A Life in Books
Bloggin' About Books
Maw Books Blog

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