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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman | TBL Pt. 1

Posted in Hellar Reviews

Publisher: HarperCollins
Date: 2008
Pages: 336/ 7 CDs
Format: Book, Audiobook, E-version

By A.E. Hellar

This was the second time that I started The Graveyard Book. The first time was in 2009, when it was a hot topic and before Disney had bought the movie options. I didn’t finish it even though I found Gaiman’s style of writing and characters fascinating. The story wasn’t what I was looking for at the time, so I kept it in the back of my mind as something to come back to. I was thrilled when, on a recent trip to the library, I found a copy of the Audiobook. I have way too many books to read and never enough time, so when I can avail myself of the Audiobook, I do. Once I was back at my desk, I let Gaiman’s reading of the story take me away. I might have even been more productive.

The protagonist is Nobody Owens or Bod. Nobody because “He looks like nobody except himself” and Owens after the ghost couple that agrees to take him in. There is the graveyard’s mysterious guardian, Silas, who serves as mentor, friend, and disciplinarian for the young Bod. There is Scarlett, Bod’s one and only true human friend. Their friendship begins one afternoon when the young Scarlett visits the graveyard with her parents. The friendship comes to an abrupt end when an afternoon adventure leads to a Child Alert for Scarlett. Fearful of Scarlett’s imaginary friend Bod, the family moves away to Ireland. Scarlett returns years later when the two are about 14 years-old. The antagonist is Jack, the member of a secret society The Jacks of All Trades. Their mission is to kill Bod before he can destroy them. Rounding out this cast is a loveable family of ghosts, goblins, and ghouls that teach Bod about history, friendship, fading, dream walking, and ghosting.

One dark night a man slips into a family’s home and kills them one by one, when he reaches the toddlers room the child is gone, and so begins our story. This story has a great opening, if not a bit a gruesome. Our young hero, Nobody, escapes death by sheer chance and is granted protection by the ghosts of the graveyard. This protection has one really cool benefit of giving Bod the ability to walk the line between the living and the dead. As the young Bod grows up, he experiences many of the same trials and tribulations that normal children do, such as bullies at school and testing parental and personal boundaries; but unlike normal children, the young Bod has the protection of the graveyard. When Scarlett reappears, they become fast friends again. With her help, Bod is able to research his past and come face to face with the secret society The Jack of All Trades.

I never would have thought about a children’s book set in the graveyard, so I’m the fool because this book rocked. Children’s stories are a mixture of simplicity and complexity, which I often compare to early Chinese scroll paintings for their effect on me emotionally. When I finished this book, I was sad and excited for the Young Bod as he left the graveyard and ventured out into the world. Gaiman’s depiction of Bod’s coming of age by losing his ability to roam in the graveyard reminded me of growing up and losing the belief in the unseen. When Bod left the graveyard, I was reminded of my own leaving home and how bright and exciting the world seemed. I highly recommend this book for adults, who have lived, and children, who have yet to live.

The Black Lion Paw

About the Author:

Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman (born Neil Richard Gaiman; 10 November 1960) is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. He has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, The Graveyard Book (2008). In 2013, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards. | Author Website | Buy The Graveyard Book


One thought on “The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman | TBL Pt. 1

  1. You know it’s funny, I did the same thing with this book. I purchased it, began reading then put it aside for another time. But I’d forgotten about it and now I must not. I will add it to my summer reading pile.
    AnnMarie 🙂
    Thank you for reminding me…



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