Neil Gaiman: The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book
Neil Gaiman
(young adult fantasy)

I really enjoyed the premise of this book, and the imagery was classic Gaiman. I’d give it 4 1/2 stars, because there were some questions that I felt were really obvious (due to the main character’s age) left unanswered at the end of the book. However, the unanswered questions were more annoyances than anything.

The basic premise is that someone murder’s a whole family… except the toddler, who manages to escape. He makes his way up the hill to a graveyard, where the resident ghosts take it upon themselves to care for him. They are aided by a (presumed) vampire, who can interact with the world outside the graveyard, and can therefore get food and such for the child. (It’s never point-blank stated that he’s a vampire, but the signs are all there. As with the ghosts, though, he doesn’t harm the kid, so it doesn’t really matter if he’s a vampire or not. The only important things to the story are that he’s the boy’s guardian, he’s “neither living nor dead,” and he’s a bad-ass.)

I liked the idea of someone having the “freedom of the graveyard,” and therefore a living person being able to behave somewhat ghost-like. That was a neat concept. I also liked the organization that the murderer belonged to. (I won’t spoil anything here, though, because I feel it’s best discovered for oneself.) And even though it was a standard Catch-22, I liked the fact that the reason for the murders ended up happening only because of the murders. Hard to detail that without spoilers, but if you read the book (and you should!) you’ll know what I mean when you get there.

This is definitely worth picking up. I do wish I’d been able to use this as a book to suggest when I worked at the library and was asked what to read now that someone was done with Harry Potter. This is a better written novel, but fits the same age-range and genre. Worth picking up.

And for those who enjoy audiobooks, it’s even better, because NEIL GAIMAN HIMSELF narrates it, which means that all the names are correct, and the emphasis is placed where the author wanted it. Plus, his accent is lovely, and I really enjoyed having him read me his book.

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