Will Byrnes's Reviews > The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
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really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult, fantasy, fiction

When a family is murdered by a mysterious killer, one of the intended victims is missing, a young, diapered boy, who had wandered off just before the crime took place. But the killer needed to complete the job. Fortunately for the boy, he was taken in by the late residents of a nearby graveyard. And when the spirit of his newly deceased mother asks for their help, the residents agree to raise her son. He is given to the care of the Owens couple and named “Nobody,” Bod for short, as he looks like “nobody but himself.”

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Neil Gaiman - from The Verge

In this Newbery Medal, Carnegie Medal and Hugo Award winning novel, it takes a graveyard to raise an actual corporate being, and there are many who chip in. Perhaps most important is Silas, resident of the worlds of the dead and the living. As Bod grows there are many interesting sorts who cross his path, a young witch lacking a gravestone, an unscrupulous dealer in antiques, a snake-like protector of a long-dead master, and an array of teachers. And there must, of course, be a girl, Scarlett by name, a living girl. Bod does venture out into the unprotected world beyond the graveyard gates, not always with permission. He wants to go to school like other kids, and does, with mixed results. He wants to buy a headstone for a friend who lacks one. He wants to spend time with Scarlett. As he enters his teen years, he determines to find the person who had killed his family.

This is not your usual coming-of-age story. Bod is indeed a likeable kid, good-hearted, innocent, easy to care about. One of Gaiman’s inspirations for this story was Kipling’s The Jungle Book, with Bod as Mowgli and the graveyard residents substituting, sometimes generically, for their animal counterparts in the earlier work. There is a section equivalent to Mowgli having been kidnapped by monkeys, a werewolf might be Akela. Bod’s nemesis is the killer Jack, the Shere-Khan of this tale. Each chapter jumps in time, and we see Bod take on new challenges as he ages. Of course, his home being a graveyard, the challenges he faces are not pedestrian. And finally, he faces an adult, mortal test that will define whether he actually gets to come of age or not.

There is so much in The Graveyard Book that is just flat-out charming that you will find, as I did, that your lips keep curling up at the corners. From Bod trying to find properly fitting clothing, to struggling to learn some of the unusual skills the locals have mastered, to coping with some of the lesser baddies who make life difficult for those around them, Bod will gain your allegiance and your affection.

The baddie, Jack, is a purely dark sort. No gray areas there. And that makes the central conflict one of pretty much pure good, against completely pure evil. There are plenty of moments of real danger for Bod and that keeps tension high. But there are nuances to other characters that add color and texture to what might otherwise have become a flat gray panel. These additions add heft to the story, and make one wonder larger thoughts about the limits of change, of redemption. This one is easy to recommend, to kids of all ages, but don’t wait too long. You never know when it might be…you know…too late.

PS – Disney has acquired the film rights for this and it is likely that it will emerge, someday, with a look similar to that of Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, Twitter, FB and Tumblr

The official website for the book

Neil Gaiman reads the entire book

This Literary Wiki page seems rather slight

I also reviewed Gaiman's
-----Stardust, briefly, a few back
-----The Ocean at the End of the Lane in August 2013
-----Trigger Warning in March 2015
-----The View From the Cheap Seats in June 2016
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Reading Progress

October 18, 2012 – Started Reading
October 18, 2012 – Shelved
October 18, 2012 – Shelved as: young-adult
October 18, 2012 – Shelved as: fantasy
October 21, 2012 – Finished Reading
June 9, 2018 – Shelved as: fiction

Comments Showing 1-34 of 34 (34 new)

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Megan Baxter I thoroughly enjoyed this one when I read it a few years ago. The whole world of the graveyard is so enjoyable.


message 2: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Keeten I've never been a Gaiman fan, but this concept sounds interesting. This is a Will written review compelling me to spend more shekels on books.


Will Byrnes I agree, Megan. It was very creative and fun.


Or, JK, you could listen to Gaiman read it.


message 4: by Steve (new)

Steve I suspect there are other Gaiman books on my TBR I should keep ahead of this one, but your review is great, Will. Reading Jeffrey's comment, I have to laugh because I know that feeling well. Standout Will review ----> $$$ at the bookery.


Mark Great review and i loved this book too when i read it a few years ago. I was ever hopeful that Gaiman would write a book focusing on Silas whose backstory would be marvelous i think.


Will Byrnes Couldn't agree more. Silas seemed the most interesting character in the book, in a Gandalfian way. (view spoiler)


Cindy Knoke I'm a big Gaiman fan. He is so creative & imaginative. My son & daughter directed me too him. One of the rewards of having young adult kids who love to read!


message 8: by Cathy (new)

Cathy DuPont Jeff: Am I the only person who loves your well placed typos?

Will: Nice review. Glad I opened spoiler though, not my 'cup of tea,' graveyard, fantasy stuff. I'm the one who reads about outlandish (fantasy) PI's. As always, enjoyed your review though.


Will Byrnes Thanks, CD


message 10: by Richard (last edited Jan 05, 2013 08:23PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Richard Cathy wrote: "Jeff: Am I the only person who loves your well placed typos?.

No, me too, me too!


Ronyell Awesome review Will!! I loved this book too! Neil Gaiman is such a talented writer!!


Lynne King Will, A great review. However, I read this book and didn't enjoy it at all...Shame really.


message 13: by Wolf (new) - rated it 1 star

Wolf will have to read.


message 14: by Lyn (new) - added it

Lyn Caglio Just finished reading American Gods and happened across your excellent review of this book. As I’m definitely in the mood for more Gaiman, think I’ll give this one a try next.


message 15: by Will (new) - rated it 4 stars

Will Byrnes Thanks, Lyn. Definitely a fun Halloween-season read.


message 16: by Cheri (new) - added it

Cheri This does sound like a great book for the season, Will! I was just at the local bookstore, they're going to be surprised when I return for yet another book! Excellent review!


message 17: by Will (new) - rated it 4 stars

Will Byrnes Definitely a fun seasonal read


message 18: by Jaguane (new) - added it

Jaguane I thought about reading this one. Glad it was a good book. 😊


message 19: by Will (new) - rated it 4 stars

Will Byrnes Definitely worth a look


message 20: by Cheryl (last edited Oct 22, 2017 09:24AM) (new) - added it

Cheryl Kennedy Really enjoyed your review, Will. Timely too with Ghosts and Goblins on the way!


message 21: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah Great review Will.
I have not read any of this authors books because I can't decide which one to start with


message 22: by Will (new) - rated it 4 stars

Will Byrnes Thanks, Cheryl. 'Tis the season.

Thanks, Sarah. This would be a fine place to begin.


message 23: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah Will wrote:

"Thanks, Sarah. This would be a fine place to begin."

Thanks Will for the help. I will add it to my list.



message 27: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Joint Sounds like it would make an interesting movie! Great review, Will!


message 28: by Will (new) - rated it 4 stars

Will Byrnes Thanks, Sarah. Although movie rights have been scooped up, I am uncertain when we can expect to see this on a screen.


message 29: by Eva (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eva I loved this book. I found myself regularly smilling. And thank you for this wonderful review. I didn't know Jungle Book was an inspiration for this story.


message 30: by Will (new) - rated it 4 stars

Will Byrnes Thanks, Eva.


message 31: by Ølïvïå (new)

Ølïvïå How do you write a comment on a book?


Jessaka loved your review. the movie will be great.


message 33: by Will (new) - rated it 4 stars

Will Byrnes Thanks, Jessaka


message 34: by Will (new) - rated it 4 stars

Will Byrnes Livvie BS wrote: "How do you write a comment on a book?"
Not sure I understand your question, as you successfully left a comment in doing so. Are you asking how one writes a review?


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