Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Graveyard Book - Review

I'm not a critic. I'm not paid to write reviews of books. I'm a writer. That means I need every contact I can find in the writing world so I do not have the leeway to post negative reviews. Unfortunately everything I've read in the past month is completely undeserving of anything but the harshest reviews. That is the reason I'll be reviewing a rather old book I read quite a while ago: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.


From the publisher: Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place--he's the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians' time as well as their timely ghostly teachings--like the ability to Fade. Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead? And then there are things like ghouls that aren't really one thing or the other.

The Graveyard Book is unusual in almost every aspect. It can be considered a middle-grade book except there is so much a middle-grader wouldn't get. The main character goes from an infant to a young man over the arc of the story defying the arbitrary age restrictions assigned to reader levels. (Technically the book could span Children's Lit all the Way to New Adult). Each chapter is a short, contained adventure, connected to other chapters by the over-arching plot of the protagonist Nobody Owens. And it's masterfully done. The writing is beautiful in its phrasing while remaining elegantly simple. Gaiman creates a creepy, some times scary world, without being gory. Throughout are beautiful black and white illustrations and little tidbits of detail regarding various side-characters and sub-plots making the story infinitely more interesting than if he had simply spoon fed us all the details.


What to know: The over-arcing plot and some of the chapters might be a little too dark or scary for some young sensitive readers. For example, the story opens with the murder of Bod’s family. Although not graphic it is a grim subject, one which carries through much of the book. At other points various individuals try to kill and/or eat the Bod.

As I've already said, this is an amazing book and I can't recommend it enough. Gaiman writes with the beauty and creativity that I strive to pour into my own writing. I hope that none of you will be put off by the Middle Grade labeling of this beautifully crafted story and will give it a read.

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~SJA

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