Bottom Shelf Reviews: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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Notes from Bottom Shelf

The Graveyard Book has been on my TBR shelf since before it was published. I had an ARC for the book for several months before the book came out, and even started it, but for some reason never finished it. Then I went ahead and still bought a hard copy of the book when it was on sale one day, started reading it again, and again set it down in favor of something else. I have no idea what books could have distracted me from one of my favorite authors, but somehow they did. So The Graveyard Book languished on my shelves for years until I finally picked it up last week and read it. I figured this was the perfect time of year for it, and I also needed a good title for this month’s “Notes from the Bottom Shelf.”

graveyard-book-coverTitle: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publication Date: September 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Rating 4 stars

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… (Goodreads)

I’m sure most of my readers already know, but I am a big fan of Neil Gaiman. I’ve read almost everything he’s written and have enjoyed ever single word. The Graveyard Book is no different. I love the almost whimsical nature of his storytelling, that just on the border of being really creepy (but stays on the safe side, because this is a children’s book after all). The eclectic collection of characters he has put together – nearly all ghosts – are each fascinating an interesting, as are all his characters.

I really liked the structure of the novel; instead of jumping forward to Bod as a teenager, we were given little vignettes of his life as he grew up in the graveyard. Each chapter was a nearly complete short story, so that you could just read one at a time if you wished, and not necessarily read the book from beginning to end. Sure, you get more out of the book as a whole, but you could easily just go back and read your favorite chapter over and over again if you wished without having to read the entire book.

I did not read Gaiman as a child, so I have no idea the impact his writing may have on children, but I love how independent and adventurous his characters in children’s books are. They’re also responsible, and caring and really well-developed. Instead of writing like he’s writing for children, he writes and speaks to them like they are his equal, which is a great way to write a novel for young readers. At the same time, the stories are even interesting for adults to read as well.

I also really enjoyed David McKean’s illustrations for the novel. McKean and Gaiman make a great team and that was definitely evident in this work. If you’re a Gaiman fan and haven’t picked this one up yet, I highly recommend it.

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