Book Review: "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman

book cover image of The Graveyard BookI love love love reading spooky books during this time of year!  It is all just a part of getting into the Halloween spirit…  which is nothing but fun!  I’ve had this particular book on my shelf for nearly a year, and I’ve finally had the opportunity to read it.  I’ll also admit that this is my first by Gaiman, and it will not be my last.

Enter the old mostly abandoned graveyard that sits high on a hill, and is now a nature preserve.  It is also the home of Nobody ‘Bod’ Owens, who came to the graveyard as a newly orphaned toddler.  The eternal residents of the graveyard all agreed to ‘adopt’ the young and very much alive toddler, with Mr. and Mrs. Owens taking the roles of adoptive parents and Silas as Guardian – which is important as Silas has the unique ability to leave the graveyard.  As Bod grows, he learns from his night-time teachers and discovers what happened to his family.  The man responsible for making him an orphan is still hunting for him, which puts Bod in a very dangerous position.

The writing in this book is magnificent.  It is beautifully descriptive, imaginative, magical with an edge toward creepy.  I absolutely loved being pulled into this world, and meeting all of the wonderful characters.  Bod has some incredible adventures and unravels some curious mysteries.  I also loved the illustrations by Dave McKean.  It was almost like he drew the pictures from within my mind.

The only caution I would offer concerns the age group for whom this is intended.  I’ve seen this recommended for ages 8 and above…  but I think that may be just a little too young for the majority of that age group.  Yes, the language is on the simplistic side and is very easy to understand, but the concepts conveyed could really scare a young reader.  Bod is an orphan, and the book opens with the scenes that make him an orphan.  No, the actual crime is not specifically detailed, but the descriptive language and imagery makes it all very clear.  Other scenes in the book could also be quite frightening and nightmare-inducing.   So, as always, be aware.  Also, I tend to be on the more conservative, cautious side so take from that what you will.  It is a great book, deserving of all the honors placed upon it – Newbery Medal and the Hugo Award, among others.

*****
The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman
HarperCollins, 2008
309 pages
Source:  Personal Collection
*****
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6 thoughts on “Book Review: "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman

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  1. I just finished this on audio– my first audio, actually! It was narrated by Gaiman and was wonderful. While I don't think audio books will necessarily work for me in the future, I thought this was done so well. I really enjoyed the story as well and thought Gaiman really mastered setting up the atmosphere and painting a vivid picture. I agree completely that this title might not be completely suitable for children as young as eight. I was shocked by some of the descriptions of violence and I'm in my late twenties! Glad you enjoyed it!

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  2. This was your first Gaiman, what a perfect place to start! If you want to try another I'd recommend Stardust. I think you'd like that one. It reminds me of The Princess Bride. I agree aboutt he age group too. My nephew is 7 and I can't see him reading this for quite a few years.

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  3. I just finished this as well 🙂 I'm not sure whether I missed out on some of the illustrations… I've got the e-book edition of the one you read.

    Hm, I actually thought it was quite accessible to a younger audience, because of the lack of gory details and the way that Bod was treated by the kind folk in the graveyard. Then again, I've no kids, so I don't know what would scare a young child of 8 :S

    It is a great book though, and a lovely read for teens 🙂

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