Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

HARDCOVER; 312 P.
HARPER COLLINS, 2008/2007
SOURCE: FROM THE LIBRARY

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family . . .

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel that is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

I’ve discovered Neil Gaiman only recently and thus have been slightly confused as to where to start with his vast body of work. I read Fortunately, The Milk one afternoon in the library last year and absolutely loved the creative spin and depth of imagination that the story had. However, it took me a while to decide where to continue. Alexandra from Diverses et Avariées recommended The Graveyard Book and as it was available in the library I checked it out.

The Graveyard Book begins with the murder of a family in the hands of man Jack, which the baby boy mysteriously survives by wandering into an old graveyard. The orphaned boy is adopted by an old ghost couple and grows up with the help of the graveyard’s recidents. He is named Nobody, shortly Bod, and the story follows him growing up and learning different skills with the help of both the dead and the living. But the world isn’t safe for Bod because the mysterious man Jack is still out there and looking for him…

Neil Gaiman has the ability to craft wonderful and awe-inspiring stories like no one else. The story abount Bod and the various ghosts that habit the graveyard was all in all fun, scary and exciting. However, at the same time the story of The Graveyard Book never truly gripped my attention. I wanted it to draw me in and make me believe in this world that Gaiman had created. There were several scenes that I loved, and I appreciated that he didn’t over-explicate the allusions to different themes and characters. Nevertheless, I didn’t feel like any connection to the story itself. Every chapter felt like its own story and although I really enjoyed some of the elements in the book, my overall feeling after finishing the book was “what should I read next?” instead of “what a book!”. However, many readers absolutely love The Graveyard Book, so if you’re intrigued by the story, do give it a try. I’d recommend it to fans of Gaiman and younger readers who enjoy their ghost stories with a twist.

3/5

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.

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11 thoughts on “Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

  1. I liked The Graveyard Book…it was kinda sad. If you want to read Gaiman books that are less YA, try Neverwhere or Stardust which I both liked. There’s also American Gods which a lot of people like, but I don’t. Also check out his graphic novel, The Sandman, and his collection of short stories.

  2. I had exactly the same opinion when I finished the book. I felt like there was no real unity. However, surprisingly, I still think about it sometimes, about the atmosphere, about the loveable characters… It’s one of those books that you don’t “love”, but that you keep in your mind/heart for a long time :).

  3. Fabulous review! I did really enjoy ‘The Graveyard Book’, but, like you, I didn’t really feel that connected to it as a reader. I hope you get on well with the rest of your Gaiman reading! His new fairytale books (‘Hansel and Gretel’ and ‘The Sleeper and The Spindle’) are lovely, and well worth checking out.

    • Thank you for your kind comment! I was a bit hesitant to post an “okay” review of a book that almost everyone seems to love, but you’re all so nice. I’ll definitely look up the fairytales 🙂

  4. I like this review.Many people act as if everything he writes is gold.
    Oddly enough,today I saw a friend of mine rating The Ocean at the End of the Lane 2 stars over 5…
    But I think both of us should give The Sandman Chronicles a go one day! 😉

    • The Sandman Chronicles is definitely one that I’m interesting in reading. I’ve been trying to track down the first volume in my local library, but it always seems to be on loan when I’m looking. Maybe one day…

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