Jason Koivu's Reviews > The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
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Jan 23, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: fiction, fantasy
Recommended to Jason by: Everyone...just fucking everyone

I've got a doctor's appointment scheduled for Monday. Maybe I'll ask what's wrong with me, I mean, why don't I love Neil Gaiman as much as everyone else?

After all the hype surrounding him, I finally gave in and started reading his books. Aside from his collection of short stories, Fragile Things, I haven't been as impressed as I expected to be.

The Graveyard Book in particular I found to be slow moving and depressing. Maybe that's inevitable being that most of the characters in it are dead. It's not that the writing isn't good.

Gaiman's stories generally aren't to blame, either, in fact there are some flashes of real ingenuity in some of them. Coraline and Stardust have been standouts for me personally in this respect. I have noticed that sometimes the scene description is lacking. There have been moments in the middle of a page where I've stopped and said "wait, where is this happening?" and when I "look around" all I see are a couple characters in a room about as decorative as the inside of this text block I'm writing in right now. But those aren't common occurrences and they're certainly not enough to sour the whole book.

I don't know, if the doctor can't help me maybe I'll seek a second opinion from the librarian.
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 74) (74 new)


Stephen I've not read this one yet but it's in my queue. You should try Spoon River Anthology All of the characters in it are dead too, but its very engaging. Course I first saw it as a play.


Jason Koivu Gaiman for me has been a disappointment. I think because everyone was talking him up so much and raving about his work, so by the time I got around to reading it...well let's just say it would've been an uphill battle for any author to reach the expectations I'd constructed.


karen librarians know best.


message 4: by Carien (new)

Carien I wasn't impressed by this book. It doesn't really have a well worked out story. Events just followed each other without being connected. I didn't even finish it.


Jason Koivu karen wrote: "librarians know best."

That's an unbiased opinion, right Karen?


Jason Koivu Carien wrote: "I wasn't impressed by this book. It doesn't really have a well worked out story. Events just followed each other without being connected. I didn't even finish it."

Yeah I agree Carien, this is kind of a "and then something happened and then something happened..." book.


karen i'm just a lowly bookseller...masters degree still pending...


Jason Koivu karen wrote: "i'm just a lowly bookseller...masters degree still pending..."

Stop it you with your lowlys!

What's the masters going to be in, library science or engineer or whatever they call it?


karen yeah - library science.but who knows if i will ever become one... i just wanna do RA. alone.


Jason Koivu It'll only happen if you make it happen and other cliched platitudes that sound trite, but are generally true nonetheless. The good shit takes time, just keep at it.


karen i am going to unleash the breadth of my charm at ALA.

they won't know what hit 'em...


Jason Koivu karen wrote: "i am going to unleash the breadth of my charm at ALA.

they won't know what hit 'em..."


I'm going to do you a favor and nickname the breadth of your charm "The Kraken". Go forth and unleash it!


karen oh, dear. i have seen what happens when the kraken is set free.... so much damage.... soooo much....


Jason Koivu Too late! The Kraken exists, ergo it must be released! Charm the ALA's pants off!!!...does the ALA wear pants?


karen i think pantsuits? but this is baby's first ALA. and first "professional" presentation. i hope i don't barf.


Jason Koivu Well good luck, and ya know, while presenting just try not to think of this "Sunny..." scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_rFEh...


karen shoot - no youtube at work... i will have to wait for it...


Nandakishore Varma Jason, there are many people here who absolutely hate Gaiman (I am not one of them). I have read only American Gods and absolutely loved it.


Jason Koivu Nandakishore wrote: "Jason, there are many people here who absolutely hate Gaiman (I am not one of them). I have read only American Gods and absolutely loved it."

Well, since I wouldn't go so far as to say I hate him, I don't feel so bad then. American Gods is one of the few of his I have left to read. I'm hoping that one changes my mind and puts him solidly in the "like" category.


message 20: by Carien (new)

Carien Jason wrote: "Nandakishore wrote: "Jason, there are many people here who absolutely hate Gaiman (I am not one of them). I have read only American Gods and absolutely loved it."

Well, since I wouldn't go so far..."


American Gods is his best work in my opinion.


message 21: by Richard (new)

Richard Derus I mean, why don't I love Neil Gaiman as much as everyone else?

Because he's not that good. Simple.


Jason Koivu Carien wrote: "Jason wrote: "Nandakishore wrote: "Jason, there are many people here who absolutely hate Gaiman (I am not one of them). I have read only American Gods and absolutely loved it."

Well, since I woul..."


American Gods is one of the few novels of his I haven't read yet. It's on my list though. I'm determined to give this guy the fairest shake I possibly can! :)


Jason Koivu Richard wrote: "I mean, why don't I love Neil Gaiman as much as everyone else?

Because he's not that good. Simple."


Bluntly put. I'm inclined to agree with you, relatively speaking...which is all opinions can be I suppose. In his defense, he's almost become too popular for his own good. People like me come along late in the game, hear the tremendous buzz and expect BIG things only to be inevitably let down.


message 24: by Carien (new)

Carien
Bluntly put. I'm inclined to agree with you, relatively speaking...which is all..."


I think Gaiman had some really brilliant ideas and those became his best works: American Gods, Signal to Noise (graphic novel) and large parts of the Sandman story (comic). Apart from that he just also wrote several mediocre stories. Not every book can be a winner after all.


Brandy I am with you! He has great ideas, but something is just lacking for me. I read American Gods and couldn't wait for it to end!! The Graveyard Book was my way of giving him a second chance because I thought I was the only reader in the world not raving about him. Clearly, I am just not a fan.


Jason Koivu Give Stardust and/or Fragile Things a try, if you haven't already. They're my favorite of his.


Nataliya Nice review - even though I adore both Gaiman and this book.


Jason Koivu Nataliya wrote: "Nice review - even though I adore both Gaiman and this book."

Thanks. That's terribly kind of you.

Yeah, I don't know what's wrong with me. I'm definitely in the minority on this one.


Becky We all have *that* author that everyone loves, and we hate. While I LOVE Neil Gaiman (started reading him about 15 years ago) I DESPISE Joe Haldeman, and if your a scifi fan I think your obligated to love him.

I found the Tarzan-esque coming of age story fun, but hardly groundbreaking. Of course, I like Viclit, so when modern authors kind of ramble and meander through a plot I don't notice as long as I like the characters.


Jason Koivu Becky wrote: "We all have *that* author that everyone loves, and we hate. While I LOVE Neil Gaiman (started reading him about 15 years ago) I DESPISE Joe Haldeman, and if your a scifi fan I think your obligated ..."

I think you hit on something, Becky. Almost none of the characters really did anything for me.


message 31: by Tommy (new)

Tommy I'm glad to see someone else disappointed by Gaiman's longer fiction! I think the Sandman graphic novels are his best work, and some of his short stories. I enjoyed Coraline, but was a little too aware of all the other classic works of children's fantasy that he was "borrowing" from.


Jason Koivu Tommy wrote: "I'm glad to see someone else disappointed by Gaiman's longer fiction! I think the Sandman graphic novels are his best work, and some of his short stories. I enjoyed Coraline, but was a little too a..."

Coraline does have a sort of dark "Wonderland" feel to it, now that you mention it.


message 33: by Tommy (new)

Tommy Obviously Lewis Carroll influenced, and part of the plot borrowed from "Ozma of Oz." (In my opinion)


Kwesi 章英狮 Same here, I have the same problem. :(


Jason Koivu Tommy wrote: "Obviously Lewis Carroll influenced, and part of the plot borrowed from "Ozma of Oz." (In my opinion)"

That reminds me, I need to read more Baum.


Jason Koivu Kwesi 章英狮 wrote: "Same here, I have the same problem. :("

Maybe there's a support group out there for us somewhere?


Becky I would disagree with saying borrowing as though its negative in aspect. He frequently takes common cultural memories (from mythology to Tarzan) and utilizes that common knowledge to build something more complex but ultimately familiar. He even said Graveyard was inspired by Tarzan. He wants us to recognize that. And obviously this is what he does in American Gods. The fact that you recognize some aspects should not detract from the overall enjoyment, because its not like Gaiman is trying to be sneaky, its supposed to enhance your enjoyment. Not too mention, after several thousand years of literature its hard to write anything strictly original :)

And thats less a rant about Gaiman than it is whenever someone accuses a fantasy author of borrowing. :D


Jason Koivu Becky wrote: "I would disagree with saying borrowing as though its negative in aspect. He frequently takes common cultural memories (from mythology to Tarzan) and utilizes that common knowledge to build somethin..."

I agree, Becky, it does seem to be getting harder and harder as time goes on to slap a few words to the page with it sounds at least somewhat similar to something already written.


message 39: by Tommy (new)

Tommy That's why I used the term "borrowed" rather than "ripped off" or something. Since I work in a library with kids, I always encourage them to read Gaiman's work if they want to, but also urge them to continue on with some of the classics that have influenced him.


Tabitha I've only read Graveyard Book and Neverwhere so far, so I haven't fully formed an opinion on Gaiman. But I REALLY loved Neverwhere, which is why I picked up a second book of his. Graveyard wasn't bad, but I'm looking forward to checking out American Gods and Stardust, since they're two I've heard good things about. Have you read Neverwhere?


Jason Koivu I have read Neverwhere, and that reminds me that I need to do a review on it. I know a lot of people like it, more than I did. It just never grabbed me. I liked Stardust, Coraline and Fragile Things, though!


jennifer i dont like this book either :(


Sydne I know what you mean I was really excited about this book and then it was kind of a disappointment.


message 44: by Jason (last edited Sep 26, 2012 07:30PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason Koivu I should probably read this again. I feel like two stars is too low. I don't know, I don't remember disliking it so much as it not living up to my expectations.


Stephanie Flowers I also love the two Gaimen books I've read, Coraline and The Graveyard Book. But I enjoyed your review and I hope you can overcome your problem? :) Haha it's your opinion. Nothing wrong with that at all!!! My friend cautioned me about his more mature books because they are gruesome, which is something I can handle only so much of. That's just me. And you are you. And that's just fine.


Jessica I feel the same way, Jason. There were so many scenes in the books I was completely lost as to where everything was taking place and what exactly was going. It didn't meet my expectations as well. The hype of it made me think I was going to really enjoy it, but I just was not able to get into it.


message 47: by Drew (new) - rated it 5 stars

Drew Gerken Perhaps a more adult book of Gaiman's is the solution. I suggest you try American Gods if you want to give his writing another chance.


Jason Koivu Drew wrote: "Perhaps a more adult book of Gaiman's is the solution. I suggest you try American Gods if you want to give his writing another chance."

I agree. I've been meaning to get around to AG. Thanks for giving your recommendation!


message 49: by Cristian (new)

Cristian Jason:

I cannot say nothing else but THANKS. I was so upset while finding so many good reviews (and "good reviews" are little words) on this book.

I ended it last week and had the very same feeling you described: characters in an empty room, explaining all the gaps I thought weren't gaps in the book but gaps in my mind.

I searched here and there and found everybody saying what a masterpiece this is. "Am I the only person in this world who found this book not THAT awesome?" "Am I just too bitter?" "Is my inner child dead as my expectations on this book?"

And then, I find myself saying THANK YOU. From my inner child and myself, thanks for returning me the faith on humankind, LOL.

Greetings from Mexico.


Jason Koivu Cristian wrote: "Jason:

I cannot say nothing else but THANKS. I was so upset while finding so many good reviews (and "good reviews" are little words) on this book.

I ended it last week and had the very same feeli..."


You're welcome!


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