Monday, September 27, 2010

The Graveyard Book, a Review

The Graveyard Book begins with a set of murders, gruesome and dark. An infant baby boy happens to crawl from his cradle during the murders and winds up in a nearby graveyard, where the inhabitants--ghosts, ghouls, and other paranormal things--agree to raise the child.

Nobody Owens grows up under the tutelage of Silas, a mysterious figure that's not quite dead, yet not living either. Life in the graveyard is different for Bod, but the boy adapts quickly and loves the place as his home.

Neil Gaiman is a wonderful storyteller. He has a way with words, like he somehow is able to pierce deep into the soul and speak directly to you. The prose is fantastic, and I daresay the man strings together words with magic. Reading The Graveyard Book (or, in my case, listening to the audio version) was a delightful experience, as all Gaiman tends to be.

In addition to Gaiman's exceptional word choices, the plot itself is rich with real characters. Bod is a young child coming to learn not only about life, but also about growing up in a graveyard with ghosts and what-not for guardians. His teachers and friends are all on a different spiritual plane, and the rare site of another human is something Bod cherishes. The boy has a great personality, and I enjoyed watching him grow and mature through the novel.

As I mentioned, I read the audio version of this book. Narrated by Neil Gaiman himself, the audio book seemed to offer its own type of magic for listening. I found myself captivated by Gaiman's reading. Plus, being the author, I'm sure he's able to act the part (adding inflections, etc. in dialog for example) better than any other narrator. World-famous banjo player Béla Fleck created and played the music that opens and closes each cd, and this music always fit the action.

The Graveyard Book is a deeply imaginative book, honored with a Newberry Award, Carnegie Medal, Hugo Award, and Locus Award. This highly decorated book deserves all the praise it gets. The story is dark at times, but never too dark, and I enjoyed it very much. The Graveyard Book is a fun read that I recommend to anyone. It hearkens back fond memories of childhood, and the trip with Bod was one I feel anyone could relate to.

12 comments:

Kailana said...

This was an entertaining book. One of the few Gaiman's I can say I really enjoyed.

naida said...

I've been meaning to read this one for a while. Great review.
http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

contemplatrix said...

I'm re-reading this. My first experience with this book was the audio-version. Now every time I read Silas talking, I hear Gaiman's voice.

~L

logankstewart said...

@Kailana: Not a Gaiman fan, eh? You may be the first person I've ever heard say that. Still, glad you liked this one.

@Naida: Thanks for stopping by, and for the compliment.

@L: Gaiman did such an excellent job at reading, especially with Silas. I liked the voices for the ghouls, too.

David Wagner said...

I got samples of this book and American Gods on iBooks for my iPad... I must say I was far more hooked by the Graveyard Book than by American Gods, which I found rather off-putting. I give it to you that the man sure can write.

I may have to start shopping for audio books next! I'm already hooked on Apps and Digital Books... why not, eh?

Good review, thanks Logan...

logankstewart said...

@David: Oh yes, Neil Gaiman can certainly write. American Gods was enjoyable, but odd, too. It's actually better in my memory, and I think I may re-read it one day, but The Graveyard Book was just all around fun.

By the way, Crystal shared with me a link to download and review free digital ARCS at a place called netgalley.com. You should check it out.

ibeeeg said...

Yes, I completely agree with you! I truly enjoyed this book. It went beyond my expectations. Gaiman, I do believe, does "string words together with magic."
The audio experience is exceptional. Gaiman definitely has a gift for storytelling.

Oh yes, I agree with you and @L...Gaiman's voice with Silas was fantastic...I think he is my favorite character.

logankstewart said...

@ibeeeg: Thank you, and thanks for stopping by.

Carl V. said...

Listening to it was a perfect choice. He puts such heart into it all. I'm glad to hear that you liked it so much.

logankstewart said...

@Carl: Aye, 'twas a fun read, as Gaiman always is.

Okie said...

Nice review. I think it would be fun to hear Gaiman read this himself. I may have to seek out that audio version. I've heard him speak in a couple of online videos and I can imagine he would be a very evocative reader.

I haven't read enough Gaiman yet....I need to get more. :)

logankstewart said...

@Okie: An excellent reader. His performance was very fun.