Friday, October 11, 2013

The Graveyard Book (Book Review)

Author: Neil Gaiman
Year: 2008
Genre: Fantasy/Coming of age
Reading Level: I've seen this called intermediate and young adult--I personally would call it more YA, just because of content that I think would scare a lot of younger readers

Literary Awards: Hugo Award for Best Novel (2009), Newbery Medal (2009), Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel (2009), World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novel (2009), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee for Children's Literature (2009) Cybils Award for Middle Grade Fantasy & Science Fiction (2008), Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year (2009), An ALA Notable Children's Book for Middle Readers (2009), ALA Teens' Top Ten (2009), Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (2009), Indies Choice Book Award for Best Indie Young Adult Buzz Book (Fiction): (2009), Carnegie Medal in Literature (2010), British Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novel (2009) 

Plot Summary: Nobody Owens escapes death as a toddler and finds sanctuary from his would-be murderer in a nearby graveyard.  The resident ghosts agree to raise him in the safety of the graveyard, and Bod grows up surrounded by the dead, who become his family, friends, guardians and educators.  But with the killer still hunting for him, will Bod ever be able to live amongst the living?

Red Flags: Scary scenes, off-screen murder, some spookiness, ghoulies and ghosties
My Rating: A
I first read this several years ago, and then, with one thing or another, I had the urge to pick it up again.  I'm so glad I did!  I remembered liking it a lot, but I'd forgotten a lot of the details and this book is really, truly excellent.  The atmosphere, the writing, the way death is treated--so good.  I love the progression of Bod's character as he grows, I love the side characters (Liza Hempstock, eh?) and I love how everything comes together at the exciting and ultimately bittersweet end.   

I feel like there is so much more that could be said about this, but...I loved it.  Isn't that enough?  This is surely one of Neil Gaiman's very best books (the Newbery was well deserved), and one that I must add to my bookshelf, where it will sit alongside his also excellent Coraline.    

(Wouldn't Coraline and Bod be such great friends?) 

Memorable lines:
"'And there are always people who find their lives have become so unsupportable they believe the best thing they could do would be to hasten their transition to another plane of existence.'
'...Are they happier dead?'
'Sometimes.  Mostly, no.  It's like the people who believe they'll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn't work that way.  Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.  If you see what I mean.'"--ch. 4

"You're always you, and that don't change, and you're always changing, and there's nothing you can do about it."--ch. 8

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