Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Book Review Club: The Graveyard Book

I read THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman a few months ago on my Kindle and I was completely captivated by this unusual story.

Publisher's blurb: Nobody Owens is a boy raised in an abandoned cemetery by the otherworldly inhabitants, but the tale of his growing up is so fabulously spun that even the most grounded non-believer will think twice on their next visit to the graveyard.


Like a lot of books for kids, there's a dark side to this one, but at heart it's a charming and heartwarming story. It starts with the murder of the main character's parents and sister. Unaware of what is going on, the boy, a toddler, climbs out of his crib, goes downstairs where the killer left the front door open, walks out and up the hill to an old graveyard. He's small enough to climb between the railings. The ghosts quickly realize that murder has been committed and they hide the little one from the killer. Silas, the graveyard's resident vampire, uses his gifts to convince the killer to leave. But now what to do with the boy?

A ghostly couple, the Owenses, offer to adopt him and name him Nobody Owens, Bod for short, and Silas agrees to be his guardian. It's Silas's job to provide earthly things like food for the boy since Silas is the only one who can leave the graveyard. Bod is given the "freedom of the graveyard" and he is educated by several of the ghosts, all of whom have been dead for a very long time. The earliest inhabitant died in Roman times and the last ones were interred in the Victorian age, so Bod learns to write perfect copperplate and is educated in things like "elements and humors" as well as ghostly talents like fading. The latter comes in handy later.

My favorite chapter was the one where they dance the "macabray" - this graveyard's version of the Danse Macabre, only it's a happy festival where the dead march down the hill and dance with the living. I think the book is deserving of the award, and I enjoyed it immensely.

The Graveyard Book is the current recipient of the prestigious Newbery Award for juvenile fiction.

Update, 6-3-09: I just noticed on Neil Gaiman's blog that The Graveyard Book recently won two Audie Awards, one in the Children's 8-12 category, and one for Audiobook of the Year. Congratulations, Mr. Gaiman!


Linda

The Book Review Club is the brain child of Tween/Teen Author Barrie Summy. Click icon for more book review blogs @Barrie Summy

20 comments:

David Cranmer said...

Gaiman is one of the giants among us. Incredible talent. The Sandman: Book of Dreams and most of his graphic novels are top notch creative masterpieces. I haven't read The Graveyard Book but what a plot from what you described!

Keri Mikulski said...

I definitely want to get my hands on THE GRAVEYARD BOOK.

Thanks for the review! :)

Teresa said...

That book seems like such a riot. I hope I have time to read it over the summer.

Linda McLaughlin said...

David, I didn't know he did graphic novels, but I bet they're great. I loved the illustrations in The Graveyard Book.

Keri & Teresa, hope you can read the book. I think you'll really enjoy it.

Kathy Holmes said...

How interesting! Thanks for introducing me to something new.

Bee said...

I haven't read this one, but it has just been included on my AMAZON list. You do a great job of tantalizing us with some of the interesting details from Gaiman's genius creative mind!

bethyarnall said...

#1 son would love this! He watches all the TV shows about ghosts and his favorite books are also about ghosts. I may have to ask him if I can borrow it when he's done.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Bee, thanks for your kind words and for stopping by the blog.

Beth, I think boys would really enjoy this book, esp. the occasional action sequences. Girls will like it, too.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

This definitely sounds like a fun book. I generally don't do creepy, but this sounds like there's enough whimsy interspersed to make it a hit with me.

Lovely review!

Linda McLaughlin said...

Alyssa, yes, much of it is whimsical. I'm not into creepy either, and it didn't bother me. Not that it doesn't get intense, at times, but somehow you know it's all going to turn out all right.

Sarahlynn said...

Oh, this sounds so awesome. Gaiman has the most fertile imagination.

This one moves to the top of the queue.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Sarahlynn, awesome is a good word to describe the story.

Ellen Booraem said...

I'm looking forward to reading this book in hard copy--I couldn't get my hands on it when it came out, so I listened to the free Gaiman readings on his web site. (Highly recommended--he's a great reader.) It really is a marvelous book, and deserved the Newbery, hands down.

gabe said...

I listened to Gaiman being interviewed on CBC and found him so interesting. Will have to read this book.
But later ...

Linda McLaughlin said...

I think you'll enjoy it, Gabe. I saw Gaiman on the Colbert Report which was fun.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I started this but got derailed. That first scene was a killer--literally.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Patti, I understand. That first scene is very intense, but they're not all like that, thank goodness.

Barbara Martin said...

Linda, this sounds like a wonderful book to read, even for adults. Neil Gaiman writes fantastic stories.

Linda McLaughlin said...

It really is a terrific book, something that all ages could enjoy.

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