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.
It’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.