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312 pages, Hardcover
First published September 30, 2008
"Name the different kinds of people," said Miss Lupescu. "Now."This book spans Nobody's entire childhood with each chapter as a vignette, covering the biggest adventure that happened that year.
Bod thought for a moment. "The living," he said. "Er. The dead." He stopped. Then, "... Cats?"
“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”Neil Gaiman does not waste time with unicorns and princesses and butterflies which are often considered acceptable for children. He kicks off his book with the brutal murders of a child's entire family, written in a chilling tone that made me quickly turn all the lights on in my bedroom.
Bod said, 'I want to see life. I want to hold it in my hands. I want to leave a footprint on the sand of a desert island. I want to play football with people. I want,' he said, and then he paused and he thought. 'I want everything.'Seeing the world depicted through the eyes of a quiet graveyard-raised but very human boy colors the story with almost Bradbury-esque feeling of nostalgia for the fleeting magic of childhood. We see the inevitable process of growing up, finding one's self, and letting go of the comforts of childhood home written poignantly and sweetly, and yet without overkill.
“You're alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you're dead, it's gone. Over. You've made what you've made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.”Bod is a great character for a children's story. He is smart and resourceful, quiet and observant, loyal and brave, somewhat mischievous, and ultimately very life-like. His demeanor reminds me of my awesome younger brother, actually. Watching him grow up from a sweet child into what seems to be an actual good adult is a pleasure.
“You're brave. You are the bravest person I know, and you are my friend. I don't care if you are imaginary.”This story, even though wonderfully complete, still reads almost like a tease at times. Gaiman gives us a delightful and lyrical glimpse into the world which I would love to get to know better. He creates such rich captivating characters that even after the book is over I am left longing for more. I would love to read a whole another book dedicated to Silas or Miss Lupescu or Lizzy the witch. (Mr. Gaiman, if you ever run out of other book ideas... just sayin'!)
"There was a smile dancing on his lips, although it was a wary smile, for the world is a bigger place than a little graveyard on a hill; and there would be dangers in it and mysteries, new friends to make, old friends to rediscover, mistakes to be made and many paths to be walked before he would, finally, return to the graveyard or ride with the Lady on the broad back of her great grey stallion.
But between now and then, there was Life; and Bod walked into it with his eyes and his heart wide open."
“Hello,” he said, as he danced with her. “I don’t know your name.”Death is not the end! I don’t know if I believe in ghosts or heaven or a cosmic consciousness that we all float into. But I do believe in the somewhat corny We All Live On In Some Way, whether it be as memories or as influences or as just one more part of humanity that is connected to the rest of humanity because we are all humans. I dunno. The Graveyard Book literalizes that concept, of course. It does it in a way that can make sense to both children and adults – showing how things are forgotten, perhaps, and that’s not so bad really, and it does it by showing how we live on in each other, by the things we do and the people we care for. Is Gaiman a spiritual man? Surely he must be. There is a certain kind of spirituality to much of his fiction, an ease with and an interest in describing worlds that are larger than us – and yet he makes that greater world rather wonderfully prosaic, real, worlds we could actually live in, somehow. Some may think such things are depressing – or that a book that is set in a graveyard and that opens with death and where the dead live next to the living, all of that, that that is a depressing book. To me, it is the opposite of depressing. Death is a part of life; there would be no life without death. This book for children recognizes that and even, amazingly, celebrates it.
“Names aren’t really important,” she said.
“I love your horse. He’s so big! I never knew horses could be that big.”
“He is gentle enough to bear the mightiest of you away on his broad back, and strong enough for the smallest of you as well.”
“Can I ride him?” asked Bod.
“One day,” she told him, and her cobweb skirts shimmered. “One day. Everybody does.”