Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Book cover of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Apparently I’m going through a ‘creepy children with strange powers and an odd guardian’ phase, although I have to say I preferred Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children than this. Still, I did really enjoy it, especially as I picked it up on a whim because Firth Park library is mainly aimed at old ladies. So once again, long train rides + nothing else to read = being forced to read a book I wouldn’t have otherwise and really enjoying it. But then, has Neil Gaiman ever written a bad book?

Summary – ‘When a baby escapes a murderer intent on killing the entire family, who would have thought it would find safety and security in the local graveyard? Brought up by the resident ghosts, ghouls and spectres, Bod has an eccentric childhood learning about life from the dead. But for Bod there is also the danger of the murderer still looking for him – after all, he is the last remaining member of the family. A stunningly original novel deftly constructed over eight chapters, featuring every second year of Bod’s life, from babyhood to adolescence. Will Bod survive to be a man?’

There was quite a lot of hype around this when it first came out and I’ve seen a lot of reviews since, but I never really fancied it. I’ve read Stardust, Neverwhere and I adore Good Omens, but this seemed so different from his usual work that I barely even glanced at it. I think the fact that it’s a children’s book must have put me off. But hey, shoot me with the Snob Stick (one day I’ll learn!) because it’s actually very good.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - illustration of girlIt’s definitely YA. The large print, illustrations and basic language attest to that. It doesn’t lack anything for it though – I actually think it wouldn’t have worked nearly as well if it tried to be adult. That’s what’s good about this book – it doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t. It reads as though Neil Gaiman had a really, really great time reading this book and that made me enjoy it all the more.

It has a fast-paced plot that’s completely unique and a wealth of great characters that just aren’t present in many YA books. The atmosphere of the graveyard was absolutely wonderful – each grave has its own epitaph and the inhabitants come from a wide range of historical situations. It reads different to his other books, which is a testament to his skill – it’s not often an author can write in so many different ‘voices.’

This is a ridiculously hard book to review, although I’m not sure why. I really enjoyed it and I’ll definitely be purchasing my own copy but it doesn’t seem like there’s that much to say about it. It’s not very deep or very long, but so what? It’d make a great film/movie and I’d be amazed if a producer somewhere hasn’t already picked up on that.


You can listen to parts of it on Mr. Gaiman’s website here, or read my review of Neverwhere.

Comments

  1. Hannah says:

    I read this one when we were back in Tenby in October for Dan's mum's funeral. There was a lot of noise around and I just wanted to have a jolly good read, so I couldn't quite manage Robin Hobb with Man Vs. Food on the tv in front of me so I picked up this and it helped me escape from everything, plus as a kid I would have ADORED it and I think it was a combination of those things and my love of all things weird and imaginative that led to my appreciation of this book because it isn't anything particularly special, but it is great at the same time. I'd love to see it as a movie, perhaps the Nightmare guys will pick this up too! *wishes*

    PS. Had to pop back and say my word verification was 'farties'… wtf?

  2. Bex says:

    I love love love Neil Gaiman! You are totally like my reading twin 😛 i've not yet read Good Omens, although i'm giving a copy away in the UK and EU giveaway on monday… Should really read it before then I guess!

  3. Hanna says:

    @Bex – If you really, truly are my reading twin, you'll love Good Omens. It's my favourite Terry Pratchett book AND my favourite Gaiman. Actually I might reread it myself…

    @Hannah – haha, I have to pause and check over every time I write your name! Ah, I see what you mean when you said earlier about it being good to read in loud places. I found it really easy to get in to, a lot more than I'd expected.

  4. For some reason, I didn't really care for this one; I think because I picked it up thinking it would be a great read-together for my son, and it was a bit "older" than I thought it would be. But I did just finish Anansi Boys, which re-established Gaiman in my brain as an author I almost always like!

  5. Hanna says:

    @Julie – I've never read Anansi Boys, despite many, many people telling me I should! I'll get round to it one of these days, I'm sure.

  6. I love Neil Gaiman! Neverwhere's my absolute favourite, and I'm currently rereading Good Omens. I quite enjoyed this one, but it took me a few chapters to really get into it.

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