Alison's Reviews > The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
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's review
Jun 15, 2009

really liked it
Recommended to Alison by: Dini
Read in June, 2009 , read count: 1

Two weeks ago, I hadn't heard of Neil Gaiman. I couldn't have picked him out of a line-up. And that's having seen Coraline this year--about which the only thing I knew was that it was a Tim Burton movie that Tim Buron had nothing to do with. But my GR friend Dini recommended The Graveyard Book and here I am, attempting to put together a review.

What I now know about Neil Gaiman...

1. The Graveyard Book is his newest novel which won The Newbery Medal and is "supposedly" geared toward 8-12 year olds

2. He also wrote Coraline which was released as a motion picture this year ("You know, you could stay forever, if you want to. There's one tiny thing we have to do first...")

3. His other noteworthy works include American Gods, Stardust, and The Sandman series of comic books which, like The Graveyard Book, contain illustrations by Dave McKean (my reading tells me when you see his drawings, you'll just "know" they're his)

4. He has 3 children and although he is British by birth, now resides in Minneapolis, MN, and is currently dating Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls

6. Although it is an obvious comparison, he still looks a lot like Tim Burton (but more handsome)

5. He is friends/collaborators with many notable artists including filmmaker Terry Gilliam and Tori Amos.

So besides having a much more interesting life than me and being a much, much more talented/multi-award winning person, he wrote The Graveyard Book.

Reading TGB through my mommy filter, I did not find it appropriate for my particular eight year old daughters, but you might. The good news is, if you're trying to decide, you'll know right away as the first few pages include possibly the most sinister scenario, although what occurs is actually a subtle, off-"screen" act.

I liked this book. I found it to be a different type of book for me, imaginative, original, fantastical (not having read The HP books, I was free of the burden of their similarities), compelling, multi-dimensional (boy raised in graveyard by ghosts & ghouls travels through different stages of emotional development), and very stylish. I think it's actually a good place to start if you've never read NG, because it gives you a good taste of his style, it reads quickly, and it's current.

Gaiman gives a big shout-out in his credits to Kipling's The Jungle Book, which his book (I'm told) actually parallels in some chapters. Our protagonist, Bod, is raised in a graveyard by the un-dead, and I'm guessing Mowgli is similarly raised in the jungle by wolves. So there's that to watch out for, if you're familiar with Kipling (anyone?) or even the Disney movie, which I am not with either.

One thing that I found particularly intriguing was how Gaiman wanted to bridge the gap between the living and the dead. Although Bod is technically alive, he shares some of the gifts of the dead, and although his caretaker is dead, he is able to collect food for the boy and nurture him as a parent and friend. It's like the author has found a world of his own, not overly tread in Literature, where the living and the dead can co-exist. It's a very ethereal, other-worldy setting and it sucks you in to the mood of it's unique inhabitants..."There's a magic you take from death. Something leaves the world, something else comes into it."

So, to sum up...recommended's dark, yet light...different, sinister, creative, and most likely the first in a series. Something fresh for me, and yet another reminder of how little I know about the book world.
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Comments (showing 1-13)

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message 13: by Dini (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dini Hey, I didn't even know who Gaiman is dating! LOL. Nice review.

Alison Haha. I'm still working on it. I got a little carried away. There's a lot of Gaiman on You Tube if you're interested...interviews and so forth.

Alison P.S. Thanks for the rec!

message 10: by Dini (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dini Anytime, Alison.

message 9: by Dottie (new) - added it

Dottie LOVED Coraline -- my first and only thus far experience of Gaiman. Very interesting details on the author and having been seeing good things about TGB, I think it will be my next Gaiman, Alison. I've not yet seen the film of Coraline -- wasn't it a 3-
D thing? Hmm -- if so will the DVD also be and include glasses for viewing?

Sarah Alison. I'm not kidding. Read Harry Potter immediately.

Dini I second that motion!

Alison My girls say, yes, Coraline was in 3-D. Really cool effects. I know it was filmed in stop motion, also, but not sure what that means! Give this one a try, Dottie. :)

I know, I know! I need to start reading HP to my kids. May wait 'til they get a little older. It's going to sweet when I finally get to it and get to see the movies. :)

message 5: by Joanie (last edited Jun 17, 2009 04:22AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joanie Alison you totally made me want to read this one! I read Coraline (loved it!) and Stardust (the movie was actually better) by Gaiman and have American Gods but haven't read it yet.

Your description of the book also kind of makes me think of Roald Dahl-James and the Giant Peach etc. I'll have to see if I feel that way after reading it.

Oh-and you totally need to read Harry Potter! I can't wait until my son is old enough to read the books but he's not quite 3 so we've got years to wait.

Alison Good point, Joanie. Those two authors definetely create a world of their own with their unique styles. Yes--three may be a bit young--unless they come out with some HP board books. Nothing would surprise me. :)

message 3: by Todd (new)

Todd oh i love the dresden dolls...

Alison Of course you do. :)

message 1: by Vinathi (new)

Vinathi Alaburger Yay. I thought I was the only one in the world who hasn't read the HP series yet xD

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