Friday, September 20, 2013

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I don't know where to start, talking about this wonderful book. So I think I'll just let all my thoughts fall out messily in a heap on this floor I call a blog post. I bought The Graveyard Book in the Strand bookstore in New York City at the end of last year. I had been curious to read something by Neil Gaiman, and I saw this book of his on display and it looked good enough for me to buy, and I did. 
And I'm so glad I did. 
I mean, it only took me 8 or 9 months to actually pick it up and read, but still. BUT STILL! I haven't read a book this good (or that I enjoyed so much) in a long time. Granted, I don't do anywhere near as much reading as I should be doing. 

Being the first Neil Gaiman book I've read, going into it I didn't know what to expect except perhaps some decent writing and a cool story. Honestly, I don't go into any consumption of pop culture with many expectations because I like to sit back and soak in whatever the creator has made. I began reading the first few pages out loud for fun (this is something I do more often than seems normal) and I was sucked in immediately. The first few pages are creepy and intriguing and might even give you chills, but it only gets better from there. There are ghosts, ghouls, a witch, a Sleer, cold-blooded murderers, a midnight Danse Macabre, magic and mystery galore.

The story is of a little toddler whose family is brutally killed in the night by 'the man Jack'. The man Jack is meant to kill the entire family but the toddler takes a walk (the man Jack left the front door open) out of his house, down the street, up the hill and into a graveyard, thus managing to escape the murderous knife-wielding hands of the man Jack. There the graveyard folk (the dead who were buried there) meet him, decide to look after him, and give him protection from the man Jack by raising him up in the graveyard. They name him Nobody, or Bod for short. A lot of crazy adventures ensue, as each chapter of the book is presented as its own short story, and it all culminates toward Chapter 7 where we find out why the man Jack murdered Bod's whole family and all the rest. 

There are definitely some creepy undertones in The Graveyard Book but above it all is so much heart and so much warmth in this novel, especially within the characters. I love the characters so much. There are some hilarious ones, especially a few of the graveyard folk, but mostly I loved Bod, Silas and Liza Hempstock. UGH AND WHEN LIZA WAS SAYING HER GOODBYE TO BOD!!!! That got me. It got me good. 

I've seen a lot of people around the internet saying how scary it was and honestly, I'm the sort of person who would never, ever voluntarily watch a scary movie, a horror movie or anything even remotely like that, nor am I a fan of scary books. To me, at least, The Graveyard Book was not at all a scary book. Creepy, yes, at points. But at the core, the story is lovely, warm and full of heart. The theme of family (and love) underlies the whole plot, and though there are some rather unpleasant flesh-eating ghouls and an ancient organisation of murderers, Neil Gaiman wrote those characters in a light and delicate fashion that wouldn't give any fully-developed human being bad dreams. That being said, on the back of the book it reads "Ages 10 up", and personally I wouldn't dare read this to any child younger than that.

I think anyone who can read and who likes to read a good story cannot (CANNOT) be disappointed by this book. It's stunningly written, it has top notch characters, the story is superb, everything to do with the way everything is structured and delivered is perfect. 
I didn't see the twist coming, although I had my suspicions much earlier... I still didn't see it coming. It was fantastic.

I'm definitely going to be reading a lot more by Neil Gaiman in the future. And I seriously cannot wait for the movie. IT NEEDS TO BE MADE AND COME OUT ALREADY! (I'm listening to Camille Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre as I type this and I'm visualising the dead dancing with the humans; Bod dancing with the Lady on the Grey in that scene)
I rate The Graveyard Book FIVE sparkly well-deserved stars.

P.S. The Graveyard Book has won numerous awards, including the Newbery Medal in 2009! (Just to give you more incentive to get your hands on this little gem of a book)

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